To be honest, most kids’ TV shows are off the air in no time. Often times, a show begins to catch a fleeting fad, or the appeal of the concept just isn’t that timeless. Every now and then, however, we have a show like Sesame Street, The Wiggles (perhaps one of the most popular franchises in Australian TV and toys), or Howdy Doody, which ends up coming up with the right idea at the right time. and become not just a flash in the half hour of daily entertainment, but an integral element of the cultural landscape.
As anyone with a daughter, granddaughter, little sister, or niece knows, Dora the Explorer will likely be one of those shows. Having first aired in 1999, the show has been running for nearly a decade and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon. In 2004 alone, the franchise made $ 1 billion in revenue from television and toys.
The appeal that Dora the Explorer has to boys, and especially girls, is pretty simple. If you want princesses or party girls from Beverly Hills, you can choose from any number of dolls and TV shows. Glamorous hair and makeup girls are honestly a penny a dozen. Dora the Explorer has found a tragically unexplored niche in the fact that there really isn’t much for young girls who want some action and adventure in their lives.
Most toys and adventure shows are marketed for kids, but if you think about it, it’s kind of silly. Girls love Indiana Jones as much as boys. In fact, when the children’s sword and sorcerer toy cartoon series He Man and the Masters of the Universe aired, it quickly developed a huge following of young girls, simply because there was so little available for adventurous girls. at the time, and He Man offered a ton of female action heroes to cheer on.
For some adults, Dora the Explorer brings to mind memories of exploring the parks and forests around our childhood homes. We turned a stick and an old cord into a bow and arrow, imagining ourselves as Errol Flynn or Harrison Ford. As children, we want to explore and imagine ourselves as heroes on an incredible journey. For girls, there is very little on television and in toys that encourages this, and Dora the Explorer is not only a great idea, but she should have done it a long time ago.
Plus, Dora the Explorer has a well-developed cast of wonderful characters, and that’s important to any full-length kids show. Dora herself is fearless and capable, the excellent adventure heroine, while her partner, Boots the monkey, is fun and helpful. Swiper the masked fox who amuses himself by “stealing” people’s cherished memories is generally harmless enough, providing enough of a threat to keep children on the edge of their seats, but not enough to be scary. In further displaying Dora’s heroic character, she is generally upbeat and kind to all other characters, even to the point that she doesn’t hold a grudge against Swiper. These values are often lacking in children’s entertainment.
It’s interesting to note that while Dora the Explorer is generally aimed at a female audience, there are plenty of kids who love the show as well (not that they ever admitted it to their friends), prompting the producers to release the turn. -off, Go Diego Go, about Dora’s equally adventurous cousin Diego, who allows boys to join in on the adventure without having to admit they like a girl show.