My memories of “Caillou” are the same as those of every other parent: bad.
“Memories” is the wrong word. It’s closer to PTSD. That little bald-headed monster is my Saigon. Sometimes late at night, Caillou’s machine gun whine strafes my soul with lines of dialogue I can’t unhear: “Daddy, I want a chocolate chip cookie! Daddy, my toy car broke! DADDY, I DON’T WANT TO TAKE A BATH!”
No problem, Caillou! Daddy will use the tub to drown himself!
The only good thing about this crime against humanity is that “Caillou” could be a valuable tool against overpopulation. If I had seen just one episode before fatherhood, I would’ve told my wife I was ducking out to Sobeys before making a beeline to the vasectomy clinic.
Snip away, doc. I can’t risk ending up with a Caillou of my own.
The Canadian TV show — arguably our second-worst cultural export behind Nickelback — was in the news this week after PBS Kids cancelled the series. The network offered tips on how to break the bad news to the little ones, though my guess is the big ones were too busy popping Champagne corks to pay heed.
“Caillou” will continue to air in Canada and other countries that are ambivalent about the Geneva Conventions. And that titular character — a needy brat in dire need of a timeout — will continue to abuse mom and dad POWs with his temper tantrums and wretched squealing. The last time I mentioned Caillou in this space, four years ago, it was a reference to an episode where the family goes to a fancy restaurant.
For anyone who believes PBS was hasty in putting the kibosh on Lucifer — I mean, Caillou — this episode is worth watching. The petulance of a 4-year-old, the pointless storyline, the watercolour backgrounds immune to continuity, the terrible parenting — this one has it all.
As soon as they arrive, the grandma narrator points out Caillou is the only child in the bistro, which makes him feel proud but is proof his parents are wildly inconsiderate to other adults. When my daughters were young enough to still be prone to meltdowns, I didn’t take them to Canoe or Susur.
We went to places that had crayons on the table and chicken fingers on the menu.
But Caillou’s hapless guardians force their psychopathic spawn into a candlelit public space, where he promptly complains about the darkness and then nearly bowls over a tray-carrying waiter as he bolts to see an aquarium that seems to be holding Nemo’s third cousin. Caillou refuses to sit in his chair like a big boy and demands to order his own grub, which is a problem since there are no pictures and this lunatic can’t read.
He ends up with spaghetti and takes one bite before pushing it away with a scowl.
And what do his hippie-dippy parents do? They knock back a bottle of red wine and say jacksquat as he crawls under the table and waits for ice cream. The restaurant is packed when they arrive. A few minutes later, it’s empty and it’s not hard to see why.
I know it’s unbecoming for a grown-man to hate on a cartoon character. But I don’t care. I hate the way Caillou once sadistically pinched the cheek of his new baby sister, Rosie, because he was jealous. I hate the way he brushes his teeth, with the paste foaming around his mouth like a Doberman with rabies. I hate the way he pounds his tiny fists of fury on the floor when he doesn’t get to go to the circus. I hate how he bursts into tears when he can’t go first on the park swing. I hate Caillou.
You know why this future serial killer has no hair? Because even follicles are destroyed by proximity to his bellyaching. Gilbert the cat looks at Caillou with contempt.
And we, the parents of the free world, are all Gilbert.
Is it any wonder there are anti-Caillou groups on Facebook that use language I can’t repeat in a family newspaper? Is anyone surprised there’ve been dozens of petitions, including one on Change.org: “Remove Caillou From YouTube And Every Channel.”
No, Caillou isn’t the only annoying character on children’s TV. But he is the most annoying. And I’m including Barney, the chronically unsupervised Max & Ruby, those Wiggles freaks and Dora. Little girl, you’re not exploring. You’re just running your yap.
I have done my time in the kiddie TV gulag. I have watched every Disney movie, every Barbie extravaganza, every Monster High monstrosity. I still have terrifying flashbacks to that demented “Shushybye” video. Where is the man who sang lead on that dreamy insanity? I want to buy him a drink and slap him in his Shushybye face.
But despite all of the craziness parental eyeballs will absorb, the only character I truly hated was this dipstick Caillou. He was the cartoon equivalent of Donald Trump: never learning, always shirking responsibility, a forever grating wail of me-me-me.
PBS just took a brave step to put 2021 on the right track. Bravo.
Now all of the networks around the world need to issue a permanent timeout.
I wish I never met you, Caillou. Now I just need to forget.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Is it time to send Caillou packing?