‘Peg + Cat’ makes TV history in my house

Something just happened to me that has NEVER happened before.

My seven year old daughter is home sick today. Just before 9AM, I made her some toast, got her glass of water and blanket, plopped her in front of the TV, and turned on PBS. Randomly turned on PBS, mind you. I didn’t consult any menus, didn’t order anything On Demand, just turned on my TV to channel 9, and then something quite extraordinary happened. Across my TV screen, there was no Caillou, no Curious George, no Arthur or Clifford the Red Dog or any of the other male protagonists from the regular PBS early morning line up who I’ve blogged extensively about. Instead, there on my TV, in early morning prime sick kid hours, there was a female protagonist! A red-haired girl, and– this is truly breaking news: the series is titled for her. This new series is called “Peg and the Cat.”

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I had heard this show was coming out and posted about it on Reel Girl’s Facebook page. But, my experience with PBS shows starring girls like “WordGirl” or “Chole’s Closet” (the latter which is pretty heavy on rainbows, not to mention her adventures come from her clothes, how original for a girl) is that they are never on. I have to hunt them down. The reason that’s a problem is the inconvenience become an obstacle between kids and strong female characters. It keeps shows starring girls in the “special interest” category.

This episode of “Peg” begins with her cat stuck in a tree. Her cat is hilarious. My daughter was cracking up. I liked the cat, but being cynical, I was thinking: Girl star, girl in title of show, she’s going to be surrounded by males. But the next scene, was mind-blowing. To find help to get Cat down, Peg goes to her neighbor’s garage. In that garage were two neighbors: an African-American woman and an Asian woman. Do you realize what I’m writing heer? Three females, zero males, diversity, and they all shared the screen in an eponymous show about a female character– all this randomly turned on in my house in the morning hours.

You’re not going to believe it, but this story gets even better. Peg tells the neighbors that she needs help, and they try to give her a pink dress, which one of them happens to be making, then a tiara, and a bow. Now, if this scene had taken over the story,  I would’ve been annoyed. I’m tired of the trope where the strong girl rips off her restricting corset or her frilly dress, just like I am sick of the narrative where the strong princesses gets to decide who to marry. Why does marriage have to be an issue in the story at all? Who cares what she’s wearing? Does her outfit have to be a plot issue? Would it be for a male character? So though I liked Peg rejecting the dress, tiara, and bow, and found it charmingly meta, a female character refusing the gendered accoutrements always in cartoons, I prepared myself for Peg’s narrative now being dominated by a discussion of her appearance. However, I was wrong again. Peg moved on in 5 seconds to her original purpose of finding tools to rescue cat. There was no digression at all, not even a joke about her rejection of pink, tiaras, and bows. That may be a first for me to see on TV as well.

In the next scene, a male friend comes to help Peg and he is African-American. He assists but does not take over. He offers to catch Cat, Cat says no, and then Peg uses her tools to make Cat a slide to get down.

I am so excited about this show! I only saw one episode but it made history today in my house. I have a good feeling it will continue to.

9 thoughts on “‘Peg + Cat’ makes TV history in my house

  1. It would be great…if the Asian and Black “neighbor ladies” weren’t stereotypes with unnecessary, heavy accents. One step forward for girls, ten steps back for minorities. As a Black mother, I prefer not to let my son watch. Trying to find a kid show that actually has lead characters of color that aren’t marginalized stereotypes is like searching for the holy grail. All I’ve got is Doc McStuffin.

  2. I really enjoy this show with my 3 year old girl!! Caillou does too much whining and is not helping one bit! She loves the counting and the solving the problem song

  3. Another great thing about this show is that it is all about basic math skills. A GIRL ROCKING HER MATH SKILLS! Makes this math-nerd mama smile. My 5-year old son likes this show, although he typically only sees the episodes that are on the pbs web site.

  4. It’s a great show. My daughters new favorite. On her behalf and because she’s reminded me many times, the title of the show is “Peg + (plus) cat”.
    I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in future episodes. The ones I’ve seen have all been the same breath of freah air that you describe and the music is great too.

    • Hi Myssie,

      Thanks for the correction– is that possibly why I couldn’t get it on Netfix? Is there a way to watchw hen it’s not on?

      Margot

  5. If you have access to BBC iPlayer you should check out Katie Moray. Great stories, wonderful women characters, and all about Katie Morag, who wears wellies, is independent, and barely mentions rainbows.

  6. It’s so great to see a show like this out for kids, there really aren’t enough like it. This actually reminds me of a cartoon I enjoyed when I was around 9 or 10 called “Ebb and Flow” based off of a series of children’s of books, staring a girl and her dog(female) and sometimes the girl’s mom. http://www.kino.de/kinofilm/ebb-und-flo/fotoshow/95308/252524
    The characters would go on adventures and learn lessons, all heavily based on the friendship between the girl and her dog.

    As far as I can remember the characters did not fall into any of the classic gender stereotypes, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be around much anymore, nor is it very known about.

    Anywho, it’s good to know that there are still cartoons like “Peg and the Cat” out there. Thanks a lot for the post!

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