Seriously Weird Show

When I heard about Heidi Klum’s new Kids Say the Darndest Things-rip-off Seriously Funny Kids, I made a note to watch the premiere. Eight o’clock on Tuesday, February 15, however, found me in my neutral position: on the couch watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on my laptop despite the Rogers cable box staring at me from on top of the TV promising hundreds of channels to suit any mood. At around 9:30 I realized I had missed the show. (Maybe I should come up with a better system than writing things down on scraps of paper and shoving them in my bag. I guess that system’s called an iPhone but I’m fiercely and irrationally loyal to my red-and-black Samsung flip phone; we’re about to celebrate our third anniversary together.) ANYWAY, last night I caught a few minutes of the show during a Sunday evening lull and I was surprisingly repelled. I didn’t expect to particularly like the show; I think it’s safe to say I’m not exactly the its target audience. But I also didn’t expect to react with such visceral disgust.

I saw four segments before I reached my threshold. First, I watched a close-up of a boy, maybe four years old (although I”ll be the first to admit my estimates re: age may be wildly off the mark) with a huge booger hanging off his right nostril. I think the booger eventually popped but I can’t be sure exactly how this transpired because my roommate and I instantly shielded our eyes the moment the child’s mucous overtook about two-thirds of the TV screen. This went on for an agonizing period of time (probably only about a minute but it seemed like hours) before the poor kid was put out of his misery.

Next came a segment called “What is it? What is it for?” This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, i.e.,  Klum asking a kid what he or she thinks a particular object is and what it’s used for. To maximize the HILARITY, the objects are all relics of the past for these kids – ten-inch record, floppy disk, lava lamp. The clip begs its laughs off the fact that the kids logically would have no way of knowing what these things are (and, perhaps unintentionally, the awful greenscreen backdrop). One girl correctly identifies the record but claims it hasn’t been in use since the 12th century. Incidentally, this line is the closest thing to “funny” that comes out of any of the kids’ mouths.

The show raises the stakes with a Jamie-Kennedy-esque scene in which two little girls, probably sisters, sit at a desk facing a TV set. Soon an image of Heidi Klum appears onscreen; she tells the girls she’s stuck in the TV and begs them to help her get out. Apparently the only way for her to escape is for the girls to humiliate themselves at Klum’s command. She asks them to make up songs and perform magic to release her from her prison, and it is absolutely painful to watch. The girls, of course, really believe Klum is stuck in the TV and that it’s their responsibility to rescue her, and their stress and confusion is far from funny. When the TV switches to static and Klum strides triumphantly onto the set, the girls’ reward is simply a moment in her presence.

The last thing I watched before changing the channel was a creepy interview between Klum and a blond boy who looked about 7 years old in which the boy repeatedly calls Klum a “hottie,” much to her apparent enjoyment. Look, obviously any show looking to bank on the “awww” factor by featuring regular, everyday kids talking about regular, everyday things is gonna exploit its stars to some degree. For the most part, the kids aren’t trying to be funny;  the show is using the formula of exposing children’s purity and innocence by showcasing their ignorance. Maybe I’m being idealistic but there must be a less sinister way to show off how funny kids can be.

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