Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes hates almost all children’s TV – and the stuff she likes, her kids hate. But the most horrible shows of all are the ones with unbearable theme songs. These are the worst of the worst.
When I had my first baby we didn’t have a television because we didn’t want to expose our precious child to dreaded televisions. But that was five years ago. Five years ago I was getting sleep. Now my kids watch television in moderation, meaning: I only allow them to watch television 16 hours or so a day.
As such, the theme tunes for their favourite hellish television shows are burned into my brain like acid. Not the good kind of acid either. Acid that burns into your skin.
I wake in the night and I hear these songs and I can’t escape them. No amount of Lorazepam or cough medicine skulled straight from the bottle can stop BUB BUB BUBBY BUBBY FUCKING GUPPIES from screaming in my head.
I am woken every morning at 5am with “PAW TROLL PAY TROLL BE NEAR ONNA DUBBBA!” screamed into my ear at a decibel so high I am convinced it will be bleeding as I struggle toward the shower where I can only temporarily escape “PAW TROLL PAW TROLL PAW TROLL”.
So I write this in the hopes that you will do better at parenting than I. Because it’s too late for me. My children have seen Paw Patrol. So they love Paw Patrol. If I can save one parent from this unending orchestral nightmare it will be worth my pain and suffering.
Avoid these television shows AT ALL COSTS. Yes, some people will tell you to avoid Paw Patrol because it’s the children’s equivalent of a men’s rights podcast in terms of gender messaging – but also, avoid it for the song. And avoid these other horrors. Just don’t start them and then your children might not know they exist.
The worst of the worst
Paw Patrol – Just for sheer amount of times I have to hear this song screamed throughout my house and played on my TV it will share a crown for Worst Song with PJ Masks. When I asked for parents to tell me their worst songs Paw Patrol was a recurring feature/nightmare. Paw Patrol is like crack for kids. It seems like a good idea at the time, but then you’re hooked and you can’t stop twitching.
Wonder Pets – I’m a vegetarian but the songs on Wonder Pets make me want to eat duck just to shut that lisping bastard up. The desperately inane ‘Team Work What’s Gonna Work? Team Work’ anthem is surely the worst song to ever exist in the realm of children’s TV tunes.
Peppa Pig – It’s true your child has a British accent even though you live in Timaru because you’re a bad parent. Jokes! We are all bad parents.
Little Bus Tayo – The perpetually fucking useless Tayo has a stupid song to match his stupid face. Ta-yo Ta-yo he’s a little friendly bus. Speeding up. Slowing down. Ta-yo Ta-yo. All sung in a faux child’s voice that is in all likelihood a poorly paid animator who hates her life.
PJ Masks – PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS BED TIME RIGHT TIME NIGHT TIME FIGHT CRIME PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS until you fall into a swirling void where there is nothing but PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS PJ MASKS
Out of 797 votes on my Facebook poll, PJ Masks edged out Bubble Guppies 407 to 390 for most irritating.
Barney – Honourable mention to parents of older kids. I don’t know any kids who watch it these days but I do know, based on y’all telling me, that a shit load of parents continue to be haunted by the Barney theme tune.
Bubble Guppies – There’s not a worse song on the planet, let alone on TV than the Bubble Guppies theme tune. It is literally just the title over and over and over and over again. For reasons we will never understand, someone looped the Bubble Guppies theme song for ten hours on Youtube.
And the best (of the worst) because none of these theme songs are good:
Sesame Street – Nostalgia is a powerful drug.
Maisy Mouse – The Maisy Mouse theme song is bad (they all are) but it’s the least offensive in terms of tone and amount of lyrics. It is basically just Maisy, Maisy, Maisy, Maisy Mouse. Lyrical genius in its simplicity. This almost makes up for the fact that there is so little dialogue in the show. The show is basically just weird orgasm noises made by a genderless mouse wearing pants.
Fireman Sam – This theme song at least tells a story: “when he hears that fire alarm, Sam is always cool and calm“. He sure is. Fireman Sam is a hot mess who would absolutely want to do butt stuff.
Octonauts – Quite frankly Octonauts is just packed full of bangers. If you haven’t yelled from your kitchen CREATURE REPORT CREATURE REPORT are you really a parent? DANCE BREAK! GO WHALE SHARKS!
Damn, you should see me vacuuming “We’re done with our mission! Octonauts at ease! Until the next adventure!”
And as was said on the Facebook post about this topic, “Line up, everybody line up, line up, line up” reminds us of our clubbing days. Sweet memories.
Daniel Tiger – Look, I know. Daniel Tiger is more wholesome than a kale smoothie. It’s so sweet it’ll rot your teeth. But any friend of Mr Roger’s is a friend of mine. And Daniel Tiger songs have helped us a lot as a family. For instance, when my son won’t eat anything except plain white bread with nothing on it, I sing: “We gotta try new food coz it might taste good!” through gritted teeth. He just says “no” but I feel like I tried. Also the way the theme tune guy sings “Won’t you ride along with me” so breathlessly is just what this mama needs you feel me?
In all honesty though, Daniel Tiger absolutely has that Mr Roger’s feel of thinking from the perspective of a child. When my kids are driving me mad sometimes a song will pop into my head like “When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do” and it reminds me to slow it down and think from the perspective of my babies.
Doc McStuffins – I basically sing this song at the top of my lungs like I’m Mariah Carey until my children beg me to shut up. It is absolutely a hit. If Ariana Grande released it, I promise it would hit the charts. Also Doc McStuffins is an entirely tolerable television show that passes The Maisy Test.
So that’s it. That’s my list. (My husband said I had to include Miles from Tomorrowland – so honourable mention). I’m keen to hear yours.
Kia pai tou tatou Matariki! My Matariki goals were to stop watching so much bad TV. Which I will do after I watch Heartbreak Island in its entirety not as entertainment but as a study in human depravity. I wasn’t going to but that dude literally with a face like a half sucked mango who said “she doesn’t look like her photo” made me feel such pure incandescent rage that I momentarily forgot about the theme song to PJ Masks.
So I recommend it.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the day's best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.