Like Paw Patrol, but with more bitches.
January 21, 2016 12:11 PM   Subscribe

My two-year-old daughter is obsessed with Paw Patrol. I'm not in love with the gender representation on the show. What shows are similar but with better diversity in terms of gender?

We watch a lot of TV with the kiddo. Her current obsession is Paw Patrol. There are exactly four episodes available on demand, which she has already watched a dozen times each. If I have to watch the episode about the mer-pup moon one more time, I might turn into a mer-pup myself. I really dislike the gender representation on the show, which is made worse by the fact that Everest doesn't appear in any of the episodes we've seen. I would really like the media my daughter consumes to pass the Bechdel test.

She seems to like the fact that there are dogs, the gadgets, and the amount of shouting. She enjoys shouting the names of characters at the screen.

She also likes robots, space, and mermaids (but is meh on bubble guppies). Her other big TV obsession is Steven Universe, so I'm okay with going above a toddler target audience so long as it's not too heavy on violence. We're familiar with most of the PBS Kids oeuvre. She really digs Miles from Tomorrowland, to the point where she will sometimes let me put that on instead of Paw Patrol, but not always. She seems to have a strong preference for CGI shows. She likes Sesame Street & Mickey Mouse Clubhouse & Daniel Tiger well enough but I think she likes stuff that's a little more action oriented. We have access to amazon prime, hulu, netflix, and whatever is available on Time Warner on Demand. What Bechdel-passing shows should we try with her?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sid! the Science! kid!
posted by bq at 12:18 PM on January 21, 2016


Magic School Bus and Little Einsteins are big hits in our toddler house. (Both streaming on Netflix)
posted by jillithd at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2016


Oh, I should have mentioned that both Sid & Superwhy are also big hits with her (I tend to try to steer her toward Superwhy because Sid's uncanny valley element gives me the willies). Especially interested in non-PBS answers since those are our go-tos. Keep 'em coming!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:23 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Has she tried "My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic"? Most episodes don't pass the reverse Bechdel Test. That is, EVERY EPISODE passes the Bechdel Test, and if you try hard you can find episodes where a guy talks to another guy about something that isn't a gal. It's colorful, there are a wide variety of characters (some of whom shout?), there's a lot of episodes, and it's engaging enough that many adults watch it of their own free will. And it's on Netflix.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:27 PM on January 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


My daughter likes all the same stuff yours likes. The two new Care Bears series on Netflix was an obsession for a while, though lately she mostly just wants to watch Wallykazam, PJ Masks, and The Lion Guard on infinite loop.
posted by gerryblog at 12:29 PM on January 21, 2016


Seconding Little Einsteins. Also recommend Team Umizoomi. Between those shows you've got math and the arts covered, there's fairly equal gender representation, and both my son and daughter love them.
posted by amro at 12:32 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Near and dear to my heart, girl. I, too, regularly yelp for help.

My top answer is: Backyardigans. There are 5 main characters, 2 are girls, and they all pretend to be a variety of exciting people/characters with almost no regard for gender stereotypes. It holds up surprisingly well to rewatchings.

Less-good but reasonable possibilities:
Wild Kratts: Exciting! Animal-themed! Animated! Occasionally passes the Bechdel test! The two main characters are men though so the distribution of screen time in unequal.

Dinosaur Train: Roughly equal gender representation! CGI! Kinda slow, and, in its way, worse on gender than some shows with fewer female characters (A lot of Mom Knows Best and Bumbling Dad stereotypes.)

Sid the Science Kid: Good gender representation! Neat ways of approaching scientific concepts! Dusted with the same type of kid crack as Paw Patrol! I don't mind it but my husband finds it positively insufferable.

Bob the Builder: For whatever reason I think almost all the vehicles are women, but that may be my headcanon. It rubbed off on my kid though, he thinks so too.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:33 PM on January 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Chuggington usually passes the Bechdel test, despite mostly male trains. My kid watches it way too much and loves to shout the train names and sing the stupid theme song. He's also really into Peg + Cat, the Backyardigans, and Dinosaur Train.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 12:35 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have to say --- the Tinkerbell movies are some of the best kept secrets of strong female characters using ingenuity and thought to solve problems. My daughter loves those movies, and they all pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.

Peg + Cat is a HUGE hit for my kids (boy, 7, girl, 4) as is Odd Squad -- seriously. Odd Squad is amazeballs.
posted by zizzle at 12:36 PM on January 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


My 3yo Paw Patrol enthusiast has recently been choosing Nature Cat (PBS) over PP. It's a fun show and the main character are an even M/F split. Another favourite is Wild Kratts. While the brothers are the main characters, there is also a female engineer and a female computer data analyst. And my toddler can now tell you more than you'll ever need to know about lemurs.
posted by subluxor at 12:39 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


My 3-year-old daughter likes Jake and the Neverland Pirates, which features one female main character (Izzy) but also a lot of women in the rotating characters (mermaids and a few adult pirates). Not every episode passes Bechdel, but a number of them do.

She also likes PJ Masks, where one of the three PJ Masks (Amaya/Owlette) and one of the three villains (Luna Girl) are girls. The PJ Masks generally confront one enemy at a time and the show is pretty good about spreading that out... actually I feel like Luna Girl shows up more frequently than the other two villains. I'm not loving PJ Masks so much myself, because my daughter is picking up thinks like "nah nah nah" from it, so we sort of minimize it.

This one is really random and not Bechdel-y due to small cast, but my daughter loves this Russian cartoon on YouTube called Masha and the Bear. There are both Russian and English versions available, but honestly we prefer the Russian ones... you don't need to understand the words to get the show. Masha is a Dennis-the-Menace type of character who is friends with a retired circus bear who lives near her. The show is mostly Masha interacting with the various animals, and she is the only one who talks. (There are a few episodes where Father Christmas appears and a few with Masha's female cousin, who also talk.) Lots of action and physical comedy, and I don't mind watching any of the 50-some episodes over and over either. Episodes are about 7 minutes long, and there are some playlists that combine episodes. The only part of an episode I didn't like was a Christmas one where the episode had English closed captioning revealing that Masha's comment about a blue stuffed bunny was, "That's for boys." She then handed it over to the wolves who live in the abandoned ambulance, so I guess they are boys. Some of the animals are clearly gendered, like the bears and the wolves, but most are not.

Oh, and agree on the Tinkerbell movies! Lots of women, lots of problem-solving, and they really develop Tinkerbell past her original Peter Pan characterization into a DIYer/maker.

My daughter also likes Little Einsteins but my problem with that show is the Eurocentrism. You're in China, and you've used Chinese art, why not some Chinese music? Other parts of the world don't even get their art used.
posted by scarnato at 12:40 PM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Zizzle said what I was going to say: Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell is awesome and I'm a really cranky feminist. Tinkerbell has a variety of character types but all of them are great in their own way. There are boy fairies as well though they are secondary characters. Tinkerbell and friends have thrilling adventures, are very creative and industrious and the plots and scripts are entertaining. The animation quality is quite high and it is a ridiculous, goddamn travesty that there is not a line of engineering and adventure toys based on the Tinkerbell brand. Get all the movies. They are apparently done making them. (We are sad.)

My daughter also likes Octonauts, Dinosaur Train, My Little Pony and Wild Kratts.

She's also a huge, huge fan of How to Train Your Dragon. Astrid is a fantastic character. There is a extreme goofball girl character (one of the twins) and the abilities and interests of the characters are very equitable which is rare.
posted by amanda at 12:43 PM on January 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Try Shimmer and Shine. It's a newish show on Nick Jr. My son loves Paw Patrol also. Oh, and Peppa Pig!
posted by gentian at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2016


She might be slightly too young, but my four-year-old LOVES Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That. The moms are always in the kitchen, but Sally is awesome and many of the characters are female.
posted by chocotaco at 1:12 PM on January 21, 2016


Nthing PJ Masks. I actually love that show myself, and I'm forty something....! Amaya (Owlette) rocks!
posted by ramix at 1:12 PM on January 21, 2016


It's aimed at an age group a older than 2, but SheZow (available on Netflix) is about a boy who turns into a girl superhero.
posted by Leontine at 1:13 PM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Masha and the Bear in Russian (more magical than English). It's the only thing my 3 year old watches on YouTube besides 1980s Raffi concerts. Masha is badass, and if you watch enough you start to catch onto some Cyrillic.
posted by Maarika at 1:13 PM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Note that the good mayor in Paw Patrol is a woman (the bad mayor of the next town is a man). My daughter is really disappointed when an episode doesn't have Skye though, her favorite.

She also likes Shimmer & Shine, Little Charmers & Peppa Pig which all pass the test.
posted by w0mbat at 1:24 PM on January 21, 2016


What country are you in? There are some really fantastic shows on CBeebies (UK) and TVO (Ontario, Canada) which may be available in the US and / or streaming. Two that I love are Tinga Tinga Tales (African-inspired folktales! Great music! Funny writing!) and Charlie and Lola (super cute little girl and her brother). If you can get it, Katie Morag is also lovely and a lot less frenetic than some typical North American shows. ... Actually, just saw that she prefers more action-oriented CGI shows, so these may not be up her street. But certainly would recommend trying them, maybe if she goes off those shows.
posted by apcmwh at 1:54 PM on January 21, 2016


Octonauts, Octonauts, Octonauts for something less terrible than paw patrol (the two female characters are the engineer and photographer). Also, Sarah and Duck for a nice mellow show with calming music that adults can tolerate.
posted by benzenedream at 2:51 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


We are really into Kate and Mim Mim right now, which you can find on Netflix. Kate is a smart grade schooler who goes on make-believe adventures with her stuffed bunny. It's cheerful and silly and Kate is plucky and brave and generous.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 3:02 PM on January 21, 2016


Team Umizoomi and Octonauts were good for us.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2016


Yo Gabba Gabba! Half of the main four are female. There's also a music break in each episode and I think they do a nice job of featuring women musicians. My Little Ponies is also all -female and has nice stories about friendship and team work. I think 2 might be a tad young for MLP though, she may follow the episodes better at 3 or 4. Oh and I agree, peg + cat is great! Tinker bell is surprisingly feminist friendly too.
posted by areaperson at 3:21 PM on January 21, 2016


Nthing Octonauts. They rock.
posted by Chairboy at 3:23 PM on January 21, 2016


Kid and I watched a shit-ton of Doc McStuffins when she was in the hospital last year and it was reasonable enough to watch. I can't speak as to how it fares as a watch-alike to the the other suggestions here, but Doc is a good character.
posted by telepanda at 3:29 PM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really liked PB&J Otter, because the older sister was always so smart and guiding of her two younger brothers. Also this isn't animated, but what about Out of the Box? I loved how they always made a lot of projects, and the fact that there's a black man and an asian woman being the hosts is amazing.
posted by yueliang at 4:17 PM on January 21, 2016


Justin Time (available on Netflix). It does start with a boy in every episode, but Olive is the real star in every episode. she is more informed, more culturally literate, and able to move the plot forward.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:30 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Octonauts was the first one that came to my mind. Doc McStuffins is another big hit here. You might also like 'Peg + Cat' which is a female lead and math...perhaps more a 4-5 year old show, but a favorite here.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 4:57 PM on January 21, 2016


I was actually thinking about this issue lately, as my four-year-old has watched every My Little Pony and Peg + Cat episode Netflix has to offer. I think I'm going to direct him to Scooby-Doo next, even though I have always personally thought it was stupid. BUT it does have a gender-balanced cast with at least one smart, competent woman in Velma; plus I like him to watch shows where the characters are self-directed, not just waiting around to be told what to do by a teacher/team leader/stationmaster.
posted by daisystomper at 8:59 PM on January 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seconding Doc McStuffins.
posted by mippy at 4:54 AM on January 22, 2016


Wonder Pets is an old Nick Jr series that's on Amazon Prime. Lots of action, music, and problem solving since their goal is to save baby animals from perils without adult help. Two of the three main characters are female. I can't think of any episode that doesn't pass the Bechdel Test. And there are 3 seasons so there's variety. My daughter also loves Doc McStuffin & Daniel Tiger.
posted by bluesapphires at 6:11 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


In addition to all of the above, my kid really likes Tayo the Little Bus on Hulu. Some of the buses are female, as is the only mechanic. The episodes are each 11 minutes, which was great for him at age 2.
posted by judith at 6:20 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


She might like "Bo on the Go" (available on Netflix).
posted by belladonna at 8:53 AM on January 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


My two year old son is obsessed with Peppa Pig (it is my favorite) and Little Einsteins. He also watches a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (plenty of Minnie Mouse in there) and he likes Doc McStuffins as well. We also like Kate and Mim Mim and Masha and the Bear is really fun!
posted by rainydayfilms at 6:27 PM on January 22, 2016


I know this question is a week old, but I had to pop in, because I can't believe no one mentioned Power Puff Girls! All of the episodes are available on Netflix.

Also seconding Wonder Pets.
posted by grrlaction at 8:39 PM on January 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is an old thread, but I didn't see a mention of Miles From Tomorrowland. The title might have a boy's name in it, but their mom Loretta is the captain of the ship and sister Loretta is kick ass. I love this show. (and Now I realize it's because it was in the original question. Whoops. Comprehension for the win)
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:33 AM on May 29, 2016


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