Children’s Television Survival Guide: Charlie and Lola

I’m gonna be honest for a moment: there is very little on the Disney Junior channel that I enjoy. Jake is just as bad as Dora, and don’t even get me started on Sophia the Whiner and her horrible snob of a stepsister who fakes like she’s learned a lesson about friendships after being a bitch for the entire episode. VOMIT. Still, we all know I adore Days of Handy Manny’s Lives, and then there’s my favorite show on that channel, which is the subject of today’s edition of my Children’s Television Survival Guide series: Charlie and Lola.

First off, this show is fucking ADORABLE. Not in a “My Little Pony” or “Care Bears” too-cute-by-half way. I mean it’s adorable the way Mr. Rogers was adorable. The way watching your kids cuddling on the couch while watching this show is adorable. It’s sweet without being cloying. It’s dark chocolate ice cream with unsweetened raspberry purée. It is, in a word, perfectly adorable. If you are so cynical as to find Charlie and Lola to be anything but adorable, then you, my friend, are a grinch and may need a heart transplant.

Charlie is Lola’s older brother, and they are drawn in a scribbly fashion. I’d guess Charlie is about 9 or 10, and Lola appears to be about 5. They speak with English accents, and they share a room and attend the same school, so I would guess Lola is in kindergarten, since she can’t read yet. Charlie is kind to Lola, and Lola is loving to Charlie, but like real siblings, sometimes they disagree and get frustrated with each other. Unlike Sophia and her bitch of a stepsister, however, their relationship is clearly built on mutual respect, and they often do extremely kind things for each other.

For example, in one episode Charlie organized a pretend camping adventure in their back yard, and although Lola wasn’t enjoying herself that much due to the extremely poor weather, she played along because it was making her brother happy, until she really couldn’t take the rain anymore and expressed her unhappiness to her brother, and then Charlie came up with a way to play camping adventure indoors instead. Did you get that? The older brother actually wanted to include his little sister in his activity, AND she participated even though she wasn’t having fun because she wanted to be with her brother, AND he thought about her feelings and found a way for them both to be happy. And you know what? Neither of them once went tattling to their parents. They worked out their problems themselves based on mutual respect and love. See? Mr. Rogers-Style Adorable.

The other thing I like about the show is, it really is a show about two regular kids. They don’t need some kind of hook, like princesses, or pirates, or monsters who like to hug and have annoying voices, to sell the show. Charlie and Lola are enough, just as they are, to draw us in. No fancy animation, no obvious product tie-ins, just good quality television.

Final selling point, and I know this isn’t a huge deal, but I also love the opening theme song for this show because although it’s a bit catchy, it has no words to get stuck in my head. (Come to think of it, neither does Handy Manny really.) It’s the little things.

The downside of Charlie and Lola is that when it ends, you have to change the channel as quickly as possible or you’ll wind up in the hell that is most of the rest of the lineup on that channel. (Chuggington’s theme song is horrible. I’m just saying.) Perhaps consider watching this one On Demand?

And there you have it, Charlie and Lola: another to add to the list of survivable children’s television. Do you have a show that you think I could make survivable for you? Post in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!