Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Review by A Parent For A Parent

If you were like me when you were a kid, you were probably a fan of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  There was something cool about an old guy in a sweater giving out life lessons and talking to puppets.  Unfortunately, Mr. Rogers died, and PBS figured today’s kids would rather watch a cartoon tiger rather than an old man, so they replaced him with Daniel Tiger.

If your child is around the toddler age, they may be interested in what’s going on in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  My son doesn’t watch it consistently, but we’ve seen a bunch of episodes (usually before school in the mornings.  He likes it enough to have a Daniel Tiger trolley complete with his mom (for some reason his dad got left out) and some safety equipment (which is unnecessary)

Although I haven’t watched every single episode, I can say I’m qualified to give my review of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and if you as a parent should like it, and what your child will like about it).

The Good

In 2021, the idea of having my son watch a show with an old man talking to puppets actually seems a bit creepy, so I am actually kind of glad that Mr. Rogers turned into Daniel Tiger….I was even too creeped out to see Tom Hanks play Mr. Rogers in that recent movie…and I love Tom Hanks.  Anyway, Daniel Tiger is a likeable character and has some friends that kids can connect with.  He sings songs with his family and they talk about some of the things that your toddler may be going through.  For example, the episode where Daniel (or DT as I call him) goes to the doctor to get a shot.  My son really connects with that one because he’s not a fan of the doctor and (spoiler alert!) Daniel Tiger wasn’t at first either.

Also, probably one of the more exciting parts is in between episodes when Daniel Tiger will segway to someone else in his neighborhood (sometimes a real person) who is doing whatever they talked about in the episode…. for example, going to the doctor.  This really helps children to connect with what’s going on during the show, as they see kids their age doing the same things as DT.

The show overall makes you (and your child) feel good and is kind of relaxing to watch….and I’m not saying that because I’m usually tired and want to relax while watching it.  The show captures some of the spirit of Mr. Rogers and how he wanted kids to feel safe while watching his show.  That’s something that parents can appreciate.

The Bad

This may sound a little nit picky, but I’ll say it anyway.  I don’t think some of the characters carry over too well from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.  The whole kingdom with King Friday and Prince Tuesday and Prince Wednesday doesn’t really work for the year 2021 with our current environment.

I know it probably didn’t fit perfectly in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s when it was Mr. Rodger’s world, but for some reason it feels even more awkward now.  I get it, it’s obviously “make believe” but why would people want to live under a monarchy?  I get that Daniel Tiger is a talking Tiger so I guess we can throw reality out the window from the start, but the whole King and Queen vibe doesn’t really work for me.  Although it probably wouldn’t make me feel much better if it was a President either. 

If I could give some advice to the writers, I’d probably just dethrone the King and rename the whole royal family and make them be regular people.  Is it that important for children to know what a King and Queen is?  My geography and world history isn’t great, but I’d bet that in the countries where you can watch Daniel Tiger, none of them are run by a King (and let’s not count England because I have as much ruling power over England as Prince Harry does.)

The Ugly

I’ll cut right to it here.  Some of the lessons of the day in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood are a bit of a stretch.  I was watching one recently (with my son, not by myself) where King Friday declared that everyone would vote on whether they wanted a slide or swings at the playground.  Now on the surface this sounds cute, but if you dig deeper, not only does it not make any sense within the show, it also isn’t practical.

So back to the whole King and Queen thing, if the Tiger family and their friends are living under a monarchy, why would they vote on if they want a slide or swing set.  That seems like something the royal family would just decide.  More importantly, in America, the voting age is 18.  Most of the children watching these episodes are a way away from turning 18, so I’m not sure why voting is something important to teach to kids. 

Another rough episode was where DT got to be King for the day.  I’m not sure what this had to do with anything but all it did was cause my son to ask why Daniel Tiger had a crown on his head.  Explaining what a King is to a 2-year-old wasn’t really something I wanted to get into at 7:30am so I just told him it was a hat. 

I get it, with some many episodes, there are eventually going to be some duds.  It’s understandable.  But some of the duds just make no sense, and I’d rather them not have a new episode.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I give Daniel Tiger my stamp of approval for a couple reasons.  The topics they cover are helpful and kids can connect to them.  While there are some misses; the music, the characters, and the general vibe of the show make you feel good.  I will also leave Daniel Tiger one last compliment and say it’s probably one of the top 3 shows on PBS today.  So, here’s to you Mr. Tiger.

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