My kids are obsessed with the TV show Peppa Pig. In case you are not familiar with it, which is likely unless you also have small children, it’s a British series about a family of pigs and the other animal families they are friends with, and it centers around 4-year-old Peppa and her little brother, George. It’s actually pretty adorable and not super annoying, even when you, the grown-up, end up watching a whole bunch of episodes in a row. It features nice little moments like a bull who loves his china tea set breaking it and having to take it to a china shop to get repaired, where the rabbit who owns the shop gets to yelp, “Oh, it’s a bull in a china shop!” See? Hilariously cute, and the kids don’t get it! That joke was just for you!
Anyway, my favorite thing about Peppa – other than the fact that the animations are simplistic almost on the level of stick figures, like a talented kid drew them – is the fact that, almost once an episode, everyone in the final scene starts laughing together at something that has transpired, and they always laugh so hard that they fall over. The episode typically ends with them laughing as they lay on the ground in a big group, so tickled by whatever the situation may be that they just can’t stay upright.
I love this. I love it because it somehow feels like it encapsulates the best parts of childhood, the wonder and the hilarity that can be found in so many odd places and that tend to evaporate the older we get, the more we are bogged down by the many details of orchestrating a life. It’s like the fact that, as we age, we are expected to parse down what we like to do into ever smaller units until we have something manageable to focus on, to explore or create a career out of. There isn’t as much room for expansiveness; we don’t have the time. We can’t hold on to all of the fascinating tangents of our youth. The world doesn’t exactly forbid it, but it is very good at preventing it. And it’s harder and harder to find the humor, the more you are buried under paperwork and bills and health problems and all other crap that needs to be attended to. At some point, it is necessary to accept that, unless you are wealthy enough that you can forgo acceptance and opt for outsourcing.
But at least there is Peppa, insisting that the Queen put on her boots before jumping in muddy puddles together (of course Peppa meets the Queen. Wouldn’t you want to invite a bunch of your subjects over if they were all anthropomorphized animals?) There is her friend Kylie Kangaroo, humbly but joyfully out-jumping everyone. There are Mummy and Daddy Pig, having the most harmless and sweet disagreements ever. There is Tiddles the Tortoise (for some reason, he’s a pet, not a “person”). There is that laughter. And it’s the best part.