If you are the parent of a small person aged over about one and under about six, you have Peppa Pig in your life. You may not have planned it that way, but you do. It’s a simple fact of existence, like “we breathe oxygen” or “trees are green” or “life is suffering”. Peppa Pig is in your life, and there’s nothing you can do about it; and that can get quite irritating when you’re aged over six, because Peppa, although immensely popular, is also immensely flawed.
This is not a tirade about how screentime is terrible for your toddler. You won’t get one of those here, or (as far as I can detect) on any parenting blog written by actual parents of actual children. No, this is just a huffy screed about all the things that annoy me about this particular damn pig.
1. George, the unwanted second child
I really feel bad for Peppa’s little brother George, a child clearly so unwelcome into the family unit that he doesn’t even have an alliterative name. All the other kids do – Suzy Sheep, Emily Elephant, Danny Dog, Rebecca Rabbit – in a convention that clearly signifies the owner of the name is a planned and treasured member of the family. Peppa’s parents appear to have been so taken aback by the arrival of a second piglet that they cast about in panic for a suitable name and came up with…George. George Pig. Trips off the tongue, doesn’t it? In exactly the same way that concrete does.
George is a bit younger than Peppa, who is herself of indeterminate preschool age, with the result that he can’t speak many words yet and suffers from an unchecked dinosaur compulsion. This gives everyone else in the show license to banish George from their piggy games on the grounds that George is “too little”. And Peppa is often just downright mean to her oinky little brother #bigsisterfail
Look, I get it: little brothers are rubbish. They smell and they follow you around everywhere and they can’t tie their own shoelaces. On top of these general issues, George really is a frightful wet. And it’s probably good for the parents to be sensitive to the needs of the younger child or whatever. But really, George is never going to grow into a fine upstanding young pig if he isn’t given the opportunity to join in with fun stuff, and as far as I can tell this whole “being little” thing is just code for “George, we don’t want you to be here.” From everyone. Mostly the adults in the piece. Poor George.
2. Mummy Pig’s constant passive-aggression towards Daddy Pig
Mummy Pig seems to have somehow got herself into this marriage, possibly because Daddy Pig is the only available member of her species in town and she didn’t fancy an exogamous union, and she plainly now bitterly regrets it. Rather than channeling this regret inwards and seeking to better herself – or just getting a goddamn divorce, it’s the 21st century after all – Mummy Pig spends her days making snide little digs at Daddy Pig: about his weight, his work ethic, his capability in any situation. Whenever Daddy Pig offers to do something, Mummy Pig’s immediate response is a chiding “Are you sure? Are you sure you can do that, you utter cretin, because last time I looked you were an incompetent crapbag and I wish I’d never married you?” (I’m paraphrasing that last bit).
In one episode, the MOTHERFUCKING QUEEN comes on television to announce a medal for the hardest-working person in Britain, and instead of responding to this news in a positive way with a game guess at who it might be*, or just shutting the fuck up and listening to find out, Mummy Pig reaches straight into her armoury of contemptuous jibes. “It won’t be you, Daddy Pig!” she trills. Bitch.
*spoiler: it’s Miss Rabbit.
3. Everyone mocks Rebecca Rabbit for her love of carrots
Like, what kind of values is this show promoting? Every time the kids in the show want to eat something or paint a picture of something or put something in a time capsule or dress up or pretend to be something, Rebecca nominates a carrot and everyone laughs at her. There’s a sort of mocking swannee-whistle effect in the soundtrack too, like “Oh Rebecca, you’re so fucking stupid for wanting to incorporate your favourite thing into your imaginative play.” Way to suppress the child’s creativity, everyone. Sheesh.
4. Everyone mocks Daddy Pig for everything
Now, I’ll grant sometimes Daddy Pig wades into situations with a little too much hubris, claiming to be an expert in French when he can’t actually speak a word and so on and so forth, but I think everyone should lay off the poor guy from time to time. He has enough to deal with, what with his shrew of a wife and his unwanted second child, and his leaky ceiling and his lawnmower that’s fallen apart and his rustbucket of a car and everything else that the world has stacked against him. Who could blame him for wanting to sit in the garden with a newspaper once in a while instead of doing a cardio workout, and for having a slight tummy podge? There’s no call to be constantly ridiculing “Daddy’s Big Tummy”. It’s not even that big FFS.
5. Mummy and Daddy Pig junk-praise Peppa constantly and as a result she is an insufferable twat
I worked in Early Years education for many years. I know all children think they’re the best at everything, and they don’t grow out of this until they’re about forty. But even by the standards of the agegroup Peppa is particularly lacking in humility, and it’s easy to see where her inflated sense of self springs from: Mummy and Daddy Pig constantly telling her she’s brilliant at everything despite her making no effort at all. “You make a brilliant detective, Peppa!” says Daddy Pig, having just located George’s toy dinosaur himself because Peppa did not in fact manage to detect it. “Fantastic, Peppa!” says Mummy Pig when Peppa is literally the last kid in the neighbourhood to ride a bike without stabilisers. Fantastic….or in fact quite basic?
I actually have quite serious objections to junk praise, by which I mean saying “brilliant” to something that could in fact be improved, or “fantastic” to behaviour that merely meets standard expectations, or praise that falls out of someone’s mouth so constantly that it ceases to be special and eventually the kids stop taking notice. Praise for a job well done is a potent thing, and should be used specifically and sparingly in order to be meaningful. Mummy and Daddy Pig really need to learn to target their praise a bit better if they’re going to prevent Peppa becoming any more of an arse than she already is.
6. Grandma and Grandpa Pig are intolerable bacon-boomers
Yeah, we get it Grandpa Pig. You grew up in the boom years, when jobs were plentiful, salaries were good and houses were affordable. You went to work, enjoyed free healthcare and education for the little piggies, and are now living a happily retired life in an enormous house with a huge garden that requires its own sit-on lawnmower. Your house is better than Daddy Pig’s. Your garden is better than Daddy Pig’s. Your lawnmower is better than Daddy Pig’s. Don’t think Daddy Pig hasn’t noticed, or that he doesn’t resent all the times Mummy Pig suggests you might like to come over and help because you’re so very capable and your lawnmower is so amazing. He’s noticed. We’ve all noticed, you porcine Little Englander. We all know you voted UPIG. Oink.
7. That fucking xylophone
If you’ve ever sat through an episode, you’ll know which xylophone I mean. The one that drills itself into your head and sits there for days; the xylophone that rivals Don’t Stop Believing as an earworm. In fact, I think I’d rather listen to a xylophone rendition of Don’t Stop Believing than any more repetitions of the Peppa soundtrack. Plinky plonky.
8. Literally nothing ever happens
Sample episode plot: Peppa goes to get her eyes tested. She tries on some glasses to see how they would look if she needs them (“fantastic”, of course). The test results come back. She does not need glasses. They all go home.
This is literally the entire content an actual episode of Peppa Pig. I have not left anything out for comic effect. Nothing. Ever. Happens.
9. A bunch of other miscellaneous stuff like they feed ducks bread when you’re not supposed to feed ducks bread, and the show perpetuates stereotypes of pigs being dirty by having them jump in muddy puddles all the time when pigs are totally not dirty, and why does everyone live on hills? And why does Miss Rabbit do all the jobs? And why is the Rabbit family the only one that lives in a species-specific burrow instead of the anthropomorphic houses that everyone else lives in? And lots of other stuff like that.
I mean, don’t get me started on “a collection of things that children’s literature and television programming gets factually wrong”. Butterflies don’t come out of cocoons, for starters. I KNOW RIGHT? But trust me on the bread. Ducks don’t eat bread.
In the interests of balance, here are some things that are not wrong with Peppa Pig: some of the dialogue is quite funny; Alexander Armstrong’s dry narration is always entertaining, and Richard Ridings has a splendidly resonant voice that makes everything sound right with the world. Also, we like the way that putting on an episode of Peppa Pig reliably allows us to do a laundry load (pro tip: two episodes and you’ve got yourself time for a relaxing bath, my friend. Awesome). But if they could sort out all the above before airing the next series that would be JUST GREAT.