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Justice For The Backyardigans

When I was a kid I distinctly remember the TV shows my Mom would or would not watch with me. 


Sesame St: A-ok

Mr. Rogers: Nope.

The Muppet Show: Right there with me.


Once I became a parent myself I finally understood what was happening because there are two types of children's programming:


  1. Straightforward, this is for kids and kids only, don’t overthink it.

  2. We know parents are watching this too, so we’ve added some stuff for them.


I first figured this out during an episode of Sesame Street where The Count appears on a game show hosted by Guy Smiley and immediately informs the host that they call him The Count because he loves to count things.  Guy Smiley then responds, “Wonderful! Well I’m Guy Smiley and they call me Guy Smiley because I changed my name from Bernie Liederkranz!”


And every generation has their form of this.  When my oldest daughter was about 6 or 7 we discovered Regular Show.  Regular Show had a ton of bits that she found fun and funny and as a child of the 80’s I was always enthralled at how every episode deployed some type of 1980’s action movie trope.  Win-win.  (And yes, I still watch Regular Show to this day)


So looking at the current landscape of kids TV the consensus reigning champ is Bluey.  My friend Justin has two kids under the age of 5 and he has raved at how Bluey is the best because he’s happy to sit there and watch an episode with his children. And when I think of what we had available to us when our kids were toddlers it definitely seems like there were more shows I didn’t want to watch with my kids than the ones I would watch.


Of course there was only one I refused to even let my children watch and that was Caillou.  Because fuck that bald headed little motherfucker.


However there was one show that seems now to be lost to time: The Backyardigans. I don’t see anyone posting online about it while its contemporaries seem to get a lot of love on platforms like TikTok. And that’s a shame because that show was huge in our house.


Following the backyard adventures of Tyrone, Uniqua, Austin, Tasha and Pablo, The Backyardigans set up imaginary scenarios with show tune style songs.  And of course there were plenty of jokes and winks just for the parents.


Out of curiosity I watched an episode of Bluey to see what the hype was all about and while it seems like a perfectly fine kids show I didn’t think it did anything that special.  It mostly gets praised for how it empathetically handles the actions of young kids but that makes me believe that the show is more for the broken parents watching than for the kids themselves and perhaps that’s why the show has such buzz.  

And nothing I saw watching Bluey could hold a candle to the Racing Day, Samurai Pie or Surf’s Up episodes of The Backyardigans.  In fact I found Bluey and his family to be pretty insufferable.  


So to all the Bluey people out there, turn off that whiny Australian dog and boot up Paramount Plus where the first two seasons of The Backyardigans are streaming.  Or if you’re brave enough just jump into Regular Show with both feet.  I highly recommend starting with Season 3’s “Eggscellent”. 


Trust me, you and your kids will be happy that you did.


Drips & Dregs is the weekly column from Rock Fight Founder Colin True.

Sometimes outdoorsy and always outdoor adjacent, check in weekly to see what is on his mind.


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