Pee-wee's Playhouse TV Poster Image

Pee-wee's Playhouse

(i)

 

Brilliant, double-edged silliness has broad appeal.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show is meant to entertain, but Pee-wee sometimes learns some things from Globey and Magic Screen.

Positive messages

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. 

Sexy stuff

Only adults will pick up on the subversive innuendo.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

What's the story?

PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE stars Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman, the exuberant man-child who spends his days in a whimsical playhouse in Puppetland with an assortment of human and puppet friends. Mixing live animation, puppetry, animation, and vintage cartoons, the show introduces viewers to an array of wacky characters, including Captain Carl (Phil Hartman), Reba the Mail Lady (S. Epatha Merkerson), and Cowboy Curtis (Laurence Fishburne). The playhouse also is home to talking furniture such as Chairry the armchair (voiced by Alison Monk), Magic Screen (Monk again), and Mr. Window (Ric Heitzman). Running gags such as a secret word that prompts the characters to scream, and a wish that usually has unexpected consequences, make for even more laughs. 

Is it any good?

QUALITY

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. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether Pee-wee's behavior is suitable in Pee-wee's Playhouse. Is he a role model for kids? Should he be? How could kids approach a situation from the show differently, and why shouldn't they emulate his rudeness?

  • What, if anything, can you learn from these characters about friendship? Do they always get along? How do they resolve problems that come up?

  • Why does this show continue to be popular with viewers? Can you think of another character who can match Pee-wee's wackiness? Does he ever seem concerned about how other people react to his unique personality?

  • How do the characters in Pee-wee's Playhouse demonstrate curiosity and teamwork? Why are these important character strengths?

TV details

Premiere date:September 13, 1986
Cast:John Paragon, Laurence Fishburne, Paul Reubens
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
Character strengths:Curiosity, Teamwork
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Pee-wee's Playhouse was written by

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Teen, 15 years old Written byCartoonaholic_C... April 9, 2008

Weird Place to Air This Show

Why air it on [adult swim] when it can be aired on general CN anyway? Still Good, by the way.
Teen, 15 years old Written bybubbo April 9, 2008
Adult Written byGhcool April 9, 2008

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