Why I Hate Caillou

I am probably not alone in my parental aspiration to try and accept everything that Jack likes in life.

But I hate Caillou.

For the unitiated or childless: Caillou is a cartoon about a four-year old Canadian boy who is bald. His name is pronounced Kai-You. He has a sister named Rosie and a cat named Gilbert. The cartoon follows his adventures.

I use the word “adventures” loosely and very, very generously.

My hatred starts with the theme song. In theory, I think everyone should have a personal theme song. But these lyrics are the inane ramblings of a patient in a physchiatric ward. Even worse, the song is incredibly catchy, so I find myself humming it during meetings or my drive into work.

This is a sample lyric:

Growing up is not so tough/Except when I’ve had enough/But there’s lots of fun stuff/I’m Caillou

It’s that second line I don’t get. There is nothing about this kid’s life that will cause enough trauma to make him not want to grow up.

All of Caillou’s “stories” are told by his grandmother. It’s no worse a creative choice than any other they make on this show, except she narrates things that are happening right on screen. “Caillou was cold, so he put on his coat to go outside.” We KNOW, Grandma. We can see it right there. I think even Jack finds her input to be an insult to his intelligence.

Grandma’s voiceover is done with this sugary, shaky breathlessness that is meant to sound like an old person to a young child, but does not sound like any old person I have ever heard in real life.

After about two minutes, you want to take grandma by the elbow and lead her to a nice chair out on the porch where she can narrate to her heart’s content without you having to listen to her.

“There goes a bus down the street.”

“Here come the mailman, with a sack full of letters.”

“I just wet myself.”

Caillou giggles constantly. I don’t know if that is normal behavior for a four year-old.

He giggles when he puts on his snow pants. At his grandfather’s horrible jokes. At getting a spoon from a cabinet. Most his giggling is prompted by things are not inherently fun or laugh-inducing experiences. Either the show is trying to brainwash children into thinking that they need to always be happy or there is something seriously wrong with this kid.

My vote is for the latter. Because the only other person I know, real or fictional, who giggles inappropriately all the time is The Joker.

Despite his jovial nature, Caillou is a flavorless, vanilla child who lives in a flavorless, vanilla world. His biggest conflicts — Caillou is upset with a friend who fell on him while they were playing — have no teeth to them because Caillou never actually DOES anything. You just hear his senile old grandmother telling you that Caillou was upset with his friend while Caillou stands around with the same blank expression on his big, round face.

I want to see Caillou smack his friend in the mouth. That’s what kids really do. Then maybe kids who watch would learn a lesson worth learning instead of, “If you pout long enough, everything will work out fine.”

Of course, Jack is obsessed with the show. When an episode is over, he’ll turn to me and tap his fingers together and say, “More Caillou. More Caillou.”

So I will watch it with him, because I don’t ever want him to think that the only thing I will do with him are things that I like. Or that I’ll make fun of him for liking this. With the colors and the songs and the simple storylines, I can understand why he does.

I try to keep my commentary to myself when he’s watching, but it’s another story when the wife is involved.

Her: “Why do you think he’s bald?”

Me: “Maybe he has a disease. Leprosy or something.”

Her: “That would explain a lot.”

Caillou probably wouldn’t annoy me so much if so much of really young kids’ culture wasn’t … how do I put this delicately … crap. Most kids’ books, and I mean the ones at the youngish end of the spectrum here, are terrible, little more than a bound set of descriptions.

Like Goodnight Moon. Have you ever read Goodnight Moon? Don’t. It’s awful. There’s no story.

Maybe I’m holding things for Jack to a standard they aren’t meant to fulfill. The cartoons I watched as a kid were beyond stupid and probably fueled by massive amounts of pot in the writers’ room — The Brady Kids and Scooby-Doo and H.R. Puffenstuff and my beloved SuperFriends, which does not hold up well at all — but at least the characters did something other than sitting and coloring or thinking about riding on a slide.

Maybe what bugs me is Caillou’s example of dazed petulance. Jack never sits still. I don’t want him turning this kid into his role model.

Whatever the reason, I’m hoping this grumpiness toward a four-year old animated boy isn’t a sign of things to come. Of me, shuffling out onto the porch in my slippers, shaking my fist at kids to get off my lawn. All parents want to think they’re still cool. Why else would the minivan be reinvented as The Swagger Wagon?

Jack, because you love him, you keep on with your boy, Caillou. I’m not faulting you for your tastes in entertainment. I guess I’m ticked that some group of people could produce such mushy pudding and put it on television.

But I can’t wait until you’re old enough to introduce you to Bugs Bunny.

Now there’s a cartoon.

 

  108 comments for “Why I Hate Caillou

  1. Kelly Sommeling
    February 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    One night I said,” I think our daughter is so f*in whiny because of that little bitch Caillou and I think we should ban him!”
    The very next day at work I asked a guy, “Hey! You have a 3 year old, does she watch Caillou?” His reply,”Not anymore, We banned him from our house.”
    I just about fell over! I thought I was alone. Then I searched and found this page. If anyone wants to put together a petition to have him taken off the air, I’m in! His voice is done by a girl, always! I looked it up. Why? Man up! He makes my ears bleed!

  2. Alex Thompson
    March 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    I have a two year old and another on the way. For a two year old, my boy is pretty smart and already has his favorite books and shows. He likes Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street, both of which I think are great, but this Caillou is evil.
    There is a difference between entertainment geared towards children and complete insanity.
    Out of boredom I googled the words “hate caillou” (Yeah, bad sign). This was the fourth site that popped up. There were 392,000 search results for parents dislike of this unrealistic demon child. I was amazed and yet not surprised.
    I try to get involved with what my son is doing but this I just can’t do. They ask too much! I agree with this article. Real kids do not act like this. They fight and scream and argue. When my friends and I played, we wrestled and chased each other around as cops and robbers. When we couldn’t resolve who won a game, someone hit someone, and there was nothing wrong with that. We actually learned to resolve conflict better by getting it out when we were young.
    The parents are unreal too, no one has that much patience. No one can stand to have everything they do questioned by a whiny child and not get frustrated and yell “GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY…I DONT CARE IF ITS RAINING”.
    Anyway, its not that I hate kid shows, its just something about this show makes me angry. Sesame Street is great, my son loves it and So do I. There is humor for everyone and my son learns a ton of stuff. I won’t ban Caillou, but we may have to inconveniently go to the store when the show is on.

    • Me
      May 4, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Caillou has terminal cancer and that’s why he’s bald. His parents know that he will die and feel and every time they punish him because they know he won’t live a full life. This is why he gets away with being such a brat.

  3. April 21, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I made sure my sons knew all about Looney Toons, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Transformers, GI Joe, Reboot and all the stuff I watched growing up.

    This cartoon… just sounds moronic.
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  4. June 21, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Technically, vanilla is not flavorless. I agree with everything else about this blog, though.
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  5. louis
    July 5, 2013 at 7:23 am

    caillou is a stupid show with actors who are not real fake caillou is fake i dont like caillou and you wanna know why it dosnt help me i mean what the fuck is caillou away caillou is a stupid ass

  6. Eric
    July 9, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I’m sorry, but your post is out of date. The Joker doesn’t laugh incessantly anymore. He smashes pencils into people’s eyes. ;-)

  7. Tod
    July 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I found your site by looking up “Callou laughing.” What’s with all the giggling and laughing all the time by everybody on the show? What’s so funny about putting on boots, or talking to mom, or every single thing. That’s what gets to me. (That and the “more Caillou” that my two year old daughter says at the end of each episode that she watches, as well as the “watch Caillou” that pops out of her on a regular basis.)

    Otherwise I am not nearly as annoyed by this as Sponge Bob (which is never on at our house), Elmo’s incessant laughing – which even my daughter has already outgrown, or other over-the-top shows. For what it is worth, my daughter likes another bald guy, Curly Howard, and that is a good sign..

    • Tod
      July 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      I forgot to mention that theme song. I hum that thing all day long — it is too dang catchy. At least I don’t know most of the words. Even my daughter tells me to stop humming it.

  8. Leigh
    August 15, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Thank God I’m not alone in my hatred of this stupid show. I can not stand what a whiny sissy kid this Caillou is! And my two year old DEMANDS it every day. He requests it constantly. More Ti-U… More Ti-U he pleads. I also thought this kid had a disease so I goggled it. Turns out they left him bald….are you ready for this…. So ALL children could identify with him. They go on to say he does not have brown hair or red hair or black hair… Etc so all kids can relate. What about the black kids… Or indian kids… Or Asian kids……. Hello!!! My biggest issue is that he looks like a cancer patient, it’s misleading. And I just hate his stupid whiny voice. I agree the grandmothers narration is equally irritating. I wish I could ban him from the house but it is the only cartoon my child will watch and sometimes I need it on to regain my sanity of living with a toddler. I should mention I have a master’s degree in child development and the show does focus on stuff that seems challenging for kids… Sharing, getting a boo boo, being scred of the dark, hating bath time….. And I have seen real growth… My child will finally let me wash his hair without completely freaking out…. Is doing better with handling scapes and even says stuff like…. Ti-u hurt… Band aid… Ice…. When he gets hurt so he knows how to fix it and cope with it…… And even got over his insane and irrational phobia of the swimming pool after watching that Whiney brat on tv in the pool……but still There’s got to be a better way!!! If he gets all whiney and spoiled ill have no one to blame but my self for allowing himto watch it. i wish we could find a better role model…. but we must ask ourselves… why are our kids so drawn to this show. why doesn’t Ciallou annoy THEM??? And agreed. The song sucks and is always stuck in my head which sucks even more!!!

  9. Bethanie
    September 27, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Actually, Caillou is supposed to be a child with terminal cancer. That’s why 1. he’s bald 2. the 2nd line of the theme song is what it is (because he won’t grow up. he’s supposed to pass when he’s 5) and 3. why he gets away with all the whining and such. If you knew your child was only going to live a couple more years, it’s hard to punish them for their wrong doings and you want them to be happy in the time they have left. That’s also why he’s almost always with his family and going on “adventures” and pretending to be so many different things. He won’t get the chance to grow up and be anything because, as I’ve pointed out, he won’t get the opportunity to grow up. Also, this explains the grandmother narrating and the white mist around the edges in every episode: the grandmother is telling/remembering the life of her grandson who was no longer with them. They’re like memories. But that pretty much sums it up.

    • Dan B
      November 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Although this post isn’t technically correct, I must applaud you for such an in-depth and detailed attempt. Lol.

    • kelly
      May 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      sorry but no.

  10. Adriann
    September 29, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    To the person who said Caillou is terminally ill…yeah that’s not correct. Even the creators of Caillou say its BC he represents all children not just red heads or blondes etc. Way to make it morbid without justification. Besides it could have just been alopecia. Either way hes annoying and a waste of air time.

  11. Rox
    October 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I’m so glad I found this…I am a Children’s Librarian and I absolutely HATE this little turd. We have a ton of Caillou books in our library, and I can’t page through a single one of them without rolling my eyes. This post is really everything that I think about Caillou…boring, lame and weirdly bald. I realize they were trying to create a character that all kids could relate to, but very few children are BALD! Even the suggestion of some hair would make him seem less like a freakish alien. As for his boring ‘adventures’ devoid of conflict, maybe he’s just Canadian? They don’t fight up there, or even have disagreements, or so I’ve heard.

  12. November 12, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    While I don’t feel as strongly about as this article and some of the comments, I can relate and understand the dis-taste for the (who we call “cancer patient”) Caillou.

    I think my anger really comes from how obedient and together his parents are. They always have time to do whatever he wants to do without a problem. “Oh, you wanna paint today? Lets get your art shirt, take all the paints outside and just never mind the mess because I have all the time in the world to clean it up” ” Oh you wanna go to Clementines? Well., I don’t have a car but I will spend my day with you to get you to the subway to make sure you’re not upset for not getting to go!”
    They are never upset. They take every situation as a learning tool. Who has the time to be these perfect parents?!?!? The narrator doesn’t upset me so much but I can hear it as condescending at times.

    And why is he named Caillou but every one else has a regular name? Is it a French/Canadian thing?

  13. s. gilbert
    November 21, 2013 at 6:17 am

    I will admit, we watched Caillou. I figured “Hey! It’s on PBS. It’s got to be good for my kid, right?” Yeah, that crap got turned off once I saw the effect it was having on my child. Yes, you read that right… it didn’t get turned off because it’s an incredibly annoying show. It got turned off because it was turning my formally sunny, easy going child into a petulant, recalcitrant whiner! So… Oh darn, look! Caillou is cancelled! No more Caillou! So sad. Let’s watch Kipper instead!

    In my experience, Caillou is universally hated by parents. Why then, is it still on the air? Why do parents let their kids watch it? I asked a parent I know that question and she said “If I turn it off in this house we will have to go through some rehab…it could be ugly…like the shakes and withdrawals.” So. Frickin. What!! If you KEEP it off (i.e. not giving into the terrorists… I mean…. children) then eventually they forget about it. A week or so worth of pain is WELL WORTH not having Caillou’s voice coming out of your child’s mouth, pouting and saying “I don’t WANT to” (nails on a chalkboard, that one) Last time I checked, WE are the parents. We pay for cable, ergo, we have the final say on what gets watched.

    Just. Turn. It. OFF!!!

    If enough parents stop gritting their teeth and just turn it off…. Caillou WILL go away!

  14. Doc Rotwang!
    December 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Thank goodness this little jerk is fictional. If he weren’t, I’d feel bad about wanting to slap him with a truck.

  15. mike
    February 18, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    The narrator is not the grandmother. If you watch the Canadian version you see a different grandmother with different kids and she says its time to read. They grab their Caillou doll and sit around her while they read about the character Chaillou. Say it on YouTube. No idea why the American version edits this out. But this would explain some of the weirdness you hate. The website explains why he is bald. Pretty stupid actually. He does not have curly or red or other hair so he can be perceived as any kid, but clearly he is White of European decent. They also discuss the correctness of having a perfect Mother and Father. Not very progressive. However, my kid, also Jack, loves this show, so I can deal with it. mike

  16. Dale King
    March 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    My daughter watched the episode where Caillou was scared of the dark. She was never scared of the dark UNTIL watching the episode. The episode had the opposite of the intended effect.

    And whats with the backgrounds? Is there a shortage of colored pixels so that you can’t actually draw to the edge of the screen?

  17. Ltc
    March 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Yeah my son watches this show at nana’s house and now all he says is “I caaaaaaaan’t do it!” For EVERYTHING.

    One day he came up to me and started to pretend to whine and cry and throw his hands in the air. Then he smiled and said, “I’m Caillou!” UGH!!

  18. Just sayin'
    April 2, 2014 at 11:23 am

    First off I found this page trying to look up the origin of the name Caillou!
    It is very laughable to me that grown adults spend so much time complaining about a cartoon geared for children! A cartoon meant to teach happy and respectful behavior with a mix of problem solving and love! It isn’t for you!!!! I know many children who watched it and NEVER had a behavior problem……so stew on that! And it is also laughable to me that people posted about Dr. Seuss being so much better….he was a drug addict that hated children…! He wanted to write novels but got stuck writing for children… he even wrote things that like “hop on pop” to hopefully get them in trouble for doing it themselves!!!
    I am glad though that some people think a 2-4 yr old can follow cartoons like transformers, batman…etc this age is better at following Mr. Rogers!!!

    I am laughing so hard right now!!!

    • kelly
      May 6, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Just Sayin. Happy and respectful behavior? Girl, you are not watching Caillou!!!! He never says please and thank you, his parents let him whine all day and and he never is told no!!!!!!!!!!! Ugh.

  19. Just sayin'
    April 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

    “Not everything is easy in the life of a child. Like adults, children go through difficult periods, but they lack the communication skills to articulate everything they feel. Caillou’s experiences are an attempt to translate the inner life of a child and his varied and sometimes contradictory feelings.

    In this very specific slant, the texts approach problems and conflicts typical of child development from a child’s point of view. By encouraging communication between parent and child, the Caillou books help parents deal with subjects that could otherwise become sources of frustration for children and grown-ups.”

    “We develop books that take place first and foremost through the eyes of a child, rather than reflecting reality as seen by adults. Thus, all Caillou books are told from Caillou’s point of view.

    Caillou’s adventures are written for children, but they can also serve as a guiding light for parents. Caillou’s adventures give parents insight into the psychological and emotional development of their children.

    Caillou’s Mommy and Daddy are not the epitome of good parents. Caillou is at a stage in his development when parents are models to be imitated; in his idealized world, his parents are perfect. He is so busy learning to become a person that he doesn’t question the world around him.”

    Both of those explanations and more can be found on the creators page!!! ;)

  20. Rachel
    April 17, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    I just keep reminding myself that he’s like this because he’s French Canadian and the writers of this show believe ringette is a sport

  21. April 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    FUCKING DUH! I’M 9, AND I KNOW WHY CALLIOU IS BALD!

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  23. Tim Cook
    May 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Caillou’s voice dubbed by Harvey Fierstein

  24. Tim Cook
    May 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Someone else hates him enough to do his own voice over.

  25. June 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

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  26. Tonie
    June 22, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    OMG! We hate Caillou! I’m so glad there are others who hate this show. So annoying! The worst part of that theme song is his saying he’s had enough. What?! Uh, no. Kid cannot say he’s had enough. And I hate when granny says, Caillou was upset, Caillou didn’t understand. Ugh!!

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  29. September 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    So I found this blog and I read it all the way to the end. I have to admit I have the same reservations as you do. However, I have an 18 year old and a 10 year old. From the beginning I banned Barney and Friends, as well as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Sponge Bob. I didn’t like the condescending tone the former two used with the children and I just HATE the latter. It’s never to early to introduce quality animation to your child. They may not understand the scope of the story line, but they enjoy the antics. Always do what you feel is in your child’s best interest. And if you don’t think that Caillou is redirect him to something better.

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  31. September 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

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  32. Brenda
    November 13, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    This will probably answer all ur questions lol as to why Caillou is so “annoying”

    http://www.chouette-publishing.com/EN/caillou/your-questions#question-160

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