Episodes From Children’s Shows That Addressed Serious Issues – By Zach Mirsky

Episodes From Children’s Shows That Addressed Serious Issues
Show: Hey Arnold
Episode: Helga on the Couch
Aired: December 4, 1999
The plot:
The new school psychologist, Dr. Bliss, takes notice of Helga’s violent behavior and bullying towards her peers. She believes that her aggressive behavior might be hiding bigger issues underneath, so she calls Helga in for an appointment and with some prying, she gives in and goes to the appointment.
Helga leaves school, freaked out. When she gets home, her parents confront her because she’s recommended for therapy and her dad, Bob complains and says that this would’ve never happened to Olga, her sister.
It is in this appointment where we get insight as to why she behaves this way. She reveals a terribly sad picture of her family life. The episode shows flashbacks to her as a young child. Her parents play favorites and gives Helga minimal attention and praise, unlike the favoritism they show to her sister Olga. This episode shows with very painful accuracy, the effects of parental favoritism. On that note, Hey Arnold doesn’t get nearly enough credit for addressing the social issues that big city kids face.
Show: Doug
Episode: Doug’s Chubby Buddy
Aired: September 27, 1997
The plot:
It is very well known that both modern society and the media shows very unrealistic standards for what beauty is. To impressionable children and teens, this can be extremely problematic. In the show, Doug’s crush, Patty Mayonnaise, has always been portrayed as very skinny. She becomes convinced that she is fat after watching and worshipping a skinny teen TV star. A commercial for a dieting kit called “Waste Away” features the TV star and it becomes her main focal point.
She unhealthily diets and excessively exercises and when Doug confronts her coach with worry, he only shuts him down and explains that only athletes diet. Eventually, she stops eating altogether. After completing a long jump, she passes out and gets an explanation for the dangers of not moderating when dieting. Originally, at the end of the episode, there was supposed to be a short monologue by the actress playing Patty Mayonnaise explaining how serious eating disorders are and how to get help. That was later taken down and now there’s a long pause before the episode actually ends.
Show: That’s So Raven
Episode: True Colors
Aired: February 4, 2005
The plot: While racism is everywhere, few shows in the early 2000s cared to address this huge issue. At the time, a season three episode of That’s So Raven called True Colors tackled it in a very straight forward manner. The episode starts with Raven and Chelsea at a retail store doing an interview. Raven nails it while Chelsea does not do as well. Back at school, the friends are chatting and she finds out Chelsea got the job and she didn’t, and it confuses her since Raven did better than Chelsea. Raven has one of her visions and finds out the owner said to Chelsea that she doesn’t hire black people, leaving her distraught. She comes up with a plan and recruits a news station to catch the racist store manager. Chelsea wears a hat with a camera in it and catches the lady saying that she doesn’t hire black peoples to Chelsea.
These are just a few examples of very important episodes of from my childhood that have impacted me. Other people will have different lists and opinions but these are mine.

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