#2. Austin & Ally and Fame
The record industry is known for vindictive mockery of good taste and greediness. Probably once it was known for something to do with music but, man, let's not be naive. There are record execs who would give your grandpa a record deal if the sound of him passing kidney stones could sell a few albums, then they'd screw him out of most of the profits and blame it on pirates. Yarr!
Austin and Ally is a tepid glimpse into the world of teen idols, except that in no conceivable or even attempted way does it broach anything bordering on realism. And that's fine. Children shouldn't have to be exposed to the soul-crushing realism of what it takes to make it in the music industry. Let's face it. If Justin Bieber hasn't paid to watch a homeless person be murdered in front of him for his own amusement, then I'm the Pope. And I am not the Pope. I don't even have a hat.
The show is about Austin, an overnight internet sensation who gets a record deal and becomes a recording hearth-throb, or what we can now refer to as Pre-Hobo Murder Bieber. The hilarious twist is that the song that made him famous was written by this girl Ally who has terrible stage fright and can't perform herself, so they become partners. Oh, man! Hijinks! Or just the way 90% of all singers work, whatever.
The kids in the show are 16 and, predictably, have no parents. The crime committed by the show, therefore, is not the proliferation of yet more bubblegum pop, poorly-rendered characters or predictable story lines. It's that it's fooling a generation of children into thinking they can upload videos of themselves singing onto Youtube and expect not to be mercilessly fucked, both metaphorically and literally, by hordes of sleazy record execs without any parental involvement whatsoever. It's never a bad idea to give kids hope, but all hope needs to be tempered by reality and for every Justin Bieber success story, there are probably about 300 of this guy.
#1. Jessie and Child-Rearing
Someone has likely written a paper in a sociology class on the nature of children's shows and the irresponsibility of the parents therein, but I bet it's a boring-as-shit read and no one in it gets called a "twat." Why bother reading that? Instead let's learn about the emotionally bankrupt lives of people in the show Jessie.
Jessie is a show about a nanny. Her name is Jessie. It's quite clever. She cares for an ethnic zoo of children for reasons my research never adequately explained. Nonetheless, there's a little Indian boy who Apu would find slightly over the top, a sassy little black girl, a spoiled white girl and Danny Zuko. Unlike our other shows, these kids do have parents -- they're just so hateful and brimming with neglect that they are literally never home, thus leaving the children in the care of a teenage girl and an ill-tempered fat man of a butler. He's fat because fat is funny. Ask any Disney executive. Then chuckle at the hijinks of Pumbaa or that fat-ass potato from Toy Story.
You can almost feel the creators of this show congratulating themselves for having an ethnically diverse cast and for showing kids that being unwanted crosses all cultural boundaries. Wikipedia tells me it was hatched by someone who wrote for both Charles in Charge and The Nanny who is not Rain Man, so there's no legitimate excuse for not being able to come up with a single new idea. But at least they present a family that loves children so much, they adopted them from the terrible squalor of India, Uganda and Detroit, and then never spends any time with them. I would have made that Detroit joke on my own if one kid in the show hadn't legitimately been adopted from there.
For most people adopting children is probably a serious decision based, at least in part, on the desire to actually see the children you've adopted every once in a while and maybe raise them in some way. But on TV that's bullshit.