A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show features the details of various cultures' holiday celebrations, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and the Swedish traditions of an early morning holiday parade on December 14 and eating lutefish. Arthur's family decides to have an authentic Christmas dinner that Jesus might have actually had in Jerusalem. Arthur's friend says no one knows when Jesus was born and the Christmas holiday is probably based on the Roman calendar's winter solstice. Another friend shares Kwanzaa's origins and its traditional ice cream dessert.
The overall message is that there's no one right way to celebrate the holidays -- being with the ones you love is what's most important. Baxter sings that being together is the very best present of all and that there's no need for things from a mall. Arthur also learns "You don't always get what you want in life, sometimes you get something better."
Positive Role Models
One of Arthur's classmates shares that every holiday season his family volunteers at a soup kitchen. Arthur is patient when he has to wait in a long line to buy the perfect present for his mom. He's also thoughtful about trying to pick out meaningful gifts for his family. Uncle Fred does a nice and selfless thing for Arthur on Christmas morning.
Violence & Scariness
In one song, Baxter imagines going to outer space and meeting aliens with sharp teeth and lots of eyeballs, but they're friendly and laugh at his jokes. The fragile present Arthur buys his mom is almost broken multiple times and then finally is broken. Arthur is very upset and cries in his room on Christmas morning.
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Products & Purchases
Arthur and D.W. are influenced by radio and TV commercials when making their own Christmas lists and shopping for their loved ones. Muffy lives in a big house, throws a fancy Christmas party, gets 37 gifts for Christmas, and when she's sad her dad asks if she wants to go for a ride in "the Rolls" to cheer up.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know the overall message in Arthur's Perfect Christmas is that there's no one right way to celebrate the holidays -- being with the ones you love is what's most important. The show features the details of various cultures' holiday celebrations, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and the Swedish traditions of an early morning holiday parade on December 14 and eating lutefish, which the kids hold their nose around and push away. Kids also look down on the "traditional" Christmas dinner of hummus and camel meat. Muffy is a vain, spoiled character who isn't nice to her friend Francine. She celebrates that she got 37 presents; she says Francine sure could use some of her makeup; she sings a song about wanting to play make believe with Francine so she can take all the worst parts like the serving girl to her queen. She also says to Francine, "It's not like Hanukkah is as important as Christmas." None of this behavior is ever addressed. It's implied that Arthur's mom is the one buying presents for Santa; later D.W. is teased by other kids for sending a letter to Santa. On Christmas morning, she throws a fit when she doesn't get the present she wants from Santa. Additionally, Arthur dreams about his mom saying his gift is the perfect present and about his mom and grandparents telling him he's the perfect grandchild, while his little sister is told she's only "almost perfect." Meanwhile his friend is dealing with his recently divorced mom's anxiety over Christmas not being good enough.
Is It Any Good?
It's a rare thing to find an intentionally inclusive holiday special that kids will actually want to watch; thankfully, this show is packed with different holiday traditions, and it's also engaging. There's a lot for kids to relate to in Arthur's Perfect Christmas, no matter what their own traditions may be. Things go slightly off the rails when the storyline focuses on a newly divorced mother's anxiety about giving her son the perfect Christmas. It's over the top and will likely confuse younger viewers, though the eventual message that holidays can be whatever you want them to be is a good one. The character of Muffy, the spoiled rich girl who only thinks of herself, is similarly unsatisfying. While she does learn to be a better listener, her elitist attitude and greed are never properly addressed. On the other hand, young viewers will relate to some of the more realistic depictions of the holidays. Arthur's efforts to find his mom the perfect present, and his heartbreak when things go wrong, is something they'll feel right along with him. Also relatable is D.W.'s anguish over writing the perfect letter to Santa Claus. For reasons both good and bad, this holiday special will give families lots to talk about after the credits roll.
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