A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show is meant to entertain, but Pee-wee sometimes learns some things from Globey and Magic Screen.
Though some anti-authoritarian messages lurk in the periphery, more straightforward themes incorporate the basics of sharing and cooperation. Pee-wee himself is the poster child for embracing your own uniqueness, and kids will appreciate how comfortable he is in his own skin. Themes include curiosity and teamwork.
Positive Role Models
Pee-wee shows some negative traits, such as petty jealousy, but for the most part he's curious, cheerful, sensitive, enthusiastic, and kind. His zany bunch of friends -- human, animal, inanimate, and floral -- help lift his spirits when he's down and help him turn gloom into happiness. Unique human characters all are good sports as they bounce off Pee-wee's fluctuating moods and wacky humor.
Violence & Scariness
Some slapstick stuff such as crashing through walls, but no injuries.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Only adults will pick up on the subversive innuendo.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pee-wee's Playhouse is filled with silly slapstick comedy that many adults love as much as kids do. This '80s cult classic's creative incorporation of puppetry and various animation styles gives it visual appeal, and a recurring cast of quirky characters keep things unpredictable. Pee-wee sometimes behaves disagreeably and rudely, but it's meant for laughs and never has a negative impact on the other characters. Some of the show's humor is a bit subversive, but that part will probably go right over most kids' heads.
Is It Any Good?
Reubens pulls off a kind of Bugs Bunny trick in this show, entertaining the kiddies while giving grown-ups something to smirk at. The magic of Pee-Wee's Playhouse is its dual audience: Children notice only the show's imaginative charm, while adults warm to the sly subversive nature of many of the characters and situations. With decades having passed since the show's production, it's also fun to watch the early work of now-well-known actors Fishburne and Merkerson.
Most of the Playhouse gags still seem quite innovative today, and its incorporative animation style is a nice change of pace from today's CGI-heavy series. Pee-wee's cooking segments are particularly choice, as are any interactions with Jambi the Genie (John Paragon). Because so many adults find Pee-wee's zaniness enchanting, this '80s series is quite the cult classic. That said, though, Reubens' unique entertainment style can be an acquired taste, and it may not strike your fancy the first time you watch. Kids, on the other hand, won't think twice about loving it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.