Why 'Caillou' Brings Up Feelings Of Hate In One Generation And Love In Another


Caillou, the French-Canadian cartoon series aimed at preschoolers and based on the books of the same name that was produced over the course of more than a decade despite encompassing only five seasons because children's TV is weird, is maybe the most divisive cartoon in recent history. Despite being a staple of PBS Kids, there's a whole movement of people who could probably use a hobby creating "I hate Caillou" subreddits and Facebook pages to rage against the "shameless whiner" of a main character.

That's pretty shocking to viewers who either were or had preschool-age kids in the mid- to late-2000s. They've only seen a sweet, imaginative boy who spends each episode demonstrating how to positively manage emotions and attending a suspiciously expensive-looking preschool, given that neither of his parents seem to work. It turns out there are basically two different Caillous.

One, which aired from 1996 to 2003, did indeed feature a nightmare whine monster. It also had all these weird real-life segments featuring puppet versions of Caillou's pets and toys in some kind of Toy Story situation that come out of nowhere to confuse and frighten you. 

Then the show took a three-year hiatus and completely retooled itself for the fourth and fifth seasons, chiefly by scrapping all that puppet bullshit, getting its protagonist out of the house and into the aforementioned bougie preschool, and most significantly, making him much less of an asshole.

Since there's such a narrow window of time to be a Caillou watcher, people who had outgrown him (and their parents) had no idea he'd changed, and neither did people who were just discovering him. As a result, alternating generations are equally confused by each other's perceptions of Caillou. Either way, you should probably take a long look at your life if you harbor so much wrath toward any particular toddler.

Manna throws only slightly more sophisticated tantrums than Caillou on Twitter.

Top image: PBS

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