Max and Ruby live alone with no adult bunny supervision.
Max, a 3-year-old rabbit, speaks in one-word sentences and loves to play with anything slimy, mucky or sticky.
Ruby, his obsessive-compulsive sister, does all the cooking and cleaning and seeks Bunny Scout merit badges when her little brother isn’t torturing her.
They star in an animated TV show for children on Nick Jr.
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The kiddie network claims the series teaches lessons in kindness, working together, and respecting and listening to others.
It is based on books by author Rosemary Wells. She says the stories are funny and gentle and make a point for pre-school viewers.
Their parents are never seen and the creator says this allows Max and Ruby to resolve conflicts on their own in a humorous and entertaining way.
The concept sounds delightful. How much harm could a simple story about two little rabbits with floppy ears cause a child?
What we really have is Max, a jerk in training, who takes off his clothes and covers his body with finger paint, who is relentless with his incessant one-word comments and who never faces consequences for his actions.
Then there is Ruby, long-suffering Ruby. She is 7 years old but is slave labor in their home, picking up toys and making cookies and enduring the mischief and mayhem of her brother.
The theme is constant and the message is clear.
Max can do anything he wants to do and get away with it.
Anyone who has a child in the house knows how addictive shows such as this one can become.
Preschoolers learn many positive things from them but in some cases what they learn is troubling.
At our house a conversational child sometimes reverts to one-word grunts.
She mimics Max and his misbehaving ways and is proud of it. If she had her way, she would watch this one show from breakfast to bedtime.
Not every kid show on Nick Jr. threatens our child’s well-being.
The Backyardigans is fantasy put to song and dance. Olivia is a precocious pig whose wardrobe is red. Peppa Pig snorts with a British accent. Joe, the host of Blues Clues, sings a clever song about potty training. Oswald is a polite blue octopus who plays the piano while his persnickety friend Henry does the Penguin Polka.
Many of these shows have theme songs that you’ll wake up singing in the middle of the night, but they also teach life lessons and even provide tutoring in foreign languages.
But they aren’t Captain Kangaroo or Mr. Rogers or, to go way back in time, Howdy Doody.
We’re on a one family campaign to send Max and Ruby on a permanent hippity-hop down the bunny trail.
Max needs a hard swat to his cottontail and Ruby needs a life.
We just need relief.
Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. He is also found at www.richardhyattcolumbus.com