Why Your Children's Television Program Sucks: Dora The ExplorerSA look at the awful children's programming you're forced to endure before you can finally kick the kids out of the TV room to watch sports for eight hours. Illustration by Jim Cooke.

The Show

Dora the Explorer

The Theme Song

Doo doo doo doo doo Dora!
Doo doo doo doo doo Dora!
Doo doo doo doo doo Dora!
Dora Dora Dora the Exploraaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

(Note: If you get an old episode of Dora, you get the opening sequence of her walking around what appears to be the lamest side-scroller video game ever made. It makes Rastan look like something directed by Christopher Nolan. The first episodes of Dora must have been produced on a stolen ThinkPad. For newer episodes, you get Dora flying through the jungle and shit, swinging around like Spider-Man with a bowl cut.)

The Mythology

Dora has been on the air for 13 years now, but it feels as if it’s been around for five times as long. Even non-parents know who Dora is, and that’s very much to their detriment, because Dora sucks. Dora is a tiny little girl of pan-Latino ancestry who has virtually NO parental supervision of any kind. Dora’s mom, who is apparently too goddamn busy to be a hands-on parent, happily lets her shrieking child go wandering off to any number of potentially dangerous and far-off places. Who just allows a child to head off to Tall Mountain with a purple monkey as a chaperone? And who lets their kid play soccer against a roaming pack of dinosaurs? They foul HARD. It’s irresponsible, is what it is.

Episode Format

Every episode of Dora involves our spunky little heroine drawn into an adventure that requires her to navigate three separate obstacles before finally getting the sparkly jewels back from the mean king or whatever the goddamn fuck. And Dora forces you to remember these three obstacles by shouting them at you in a bizarre, lunatic Aztec war chant. "BRIDGE! LAKE! GOOEY GEYSER! BRIDGE! LAKE! GOOEY GEYSER!" Then you gotta sing this whole awful song, which I will repeat here because I know it by heart because FUCK:

Come on vamanos!
Everybody let’s go!
Come on let’s get to it!
I know that we can do it!
Where are we going?
(clap clap clap)
(screams name of destination)
Where are we going?
(clap clap clap)
(screams name of destination)
Where are we going?
(clap clap clap)
(screams name of destination)
(interlude)
(screams name of destination one final time)

This is how the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated. But more important, this shows you just how empty and predictable every episode of Dora is. Why do they chant, “Where are we going?” three times? To burn airtime, people. Like a Gregg Easterbrook column, 90 percent of a Dora script already exists in Autotext. Just change “Gooey Geyser” to “Enchanted Taco Hut” and you’ve got yourself a new episode. Kids know this. My kids don’t even buy into Dora anymore. They know that this shit is staler than week-old pita bread. I can’t imagine what the writers room for Dora is like. These are all probably guys who were aiming to write the next Modern Family. Instead, they’re stuck in a windowless room in Orlando trying to figure out a chant for Dora that will also work in an ice show. Life is merciless.

Characters

Dora: Just the loudest child anyone has ever conceived of. Dora never speaks quietly. She talks in this deranged cheer-shout that can be heard from miles away. Even now, with no TV on, I can hear Dora commanding me to choose which item from her backpack will help open the magic barn door (SPOILER ALERT: It was a key!). Closet lesbian.

Boots: Dora’s best friend. Not a pet. Very important that you know that the purple monkey doing Dora’s bidding isn’t some kind of perverse indentured primate manservant. Just a buddy helping out. Sure, people. Whatever.

Backpack: Magic backpack that holds everything but requires you to listen to its stupid song as a kind of cover charge for its use. You get the same eight songs every week. I’m so tired. I’m so very tired.

Swiper: The “villain,” a masked fox. And really, does he need the mask? Doesn’t that actually give his identity AWAY? Take it off and Swiper is just a normal fox. He might be able to sneak up on Boots and snap his neck with his powerful jawtrap that way. Instead, he throws on a Green Hornet mask that announces to the whole world that he’s about to steal your shit. All Dora has to do to stop Swiper from nicking all her Junior Kotex is hold up her hand and go, “SWIPER NO SWIPING!” (You are encouraged to join in with her.) Then Swiper lets out his catchphrase—”Oh, mannnnnn!”—and sulks away. Yes, that’s his catchphrase. The bar for writing on kids’ TV shows is lower than you could ever possibly fathom.

Swiper is the Chief Villain in the world of Dora, but in half of the episodes, they pretty much make him a good guy, which defeats the whole purpose of it. Nothing ruins a villain faster than a cheap face turn. I strongly feel that the essence of Swiper has been lost.

Map: Fuck the Map. The Map is horrible: “DORA WANTS TO GET TO THE GOOEY GEYSER! WELL I KNOW A WAY TO THE GOOEY GEYSER!!!” It’s like being yelled at by a Lower East Side deli owner for eight minutes. Just the worst. Why did they hire Mario Cantone’s voice double for this? And his song is somehow even worse. “I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP I’M THE MAP!” Really? I thought you were an ice cream cone! No shit, buddy.

Benny the Bull, Isa the Iguana, Tico the Squirrel: Assorted talking animals.

Superbabies: Dora’s lying twin baby siblings who were introduced late in the series’s run for a cheap ratings boost. Because adding a baby to a series always adds new life to it!

Best Episode

None.

Worst Episodes

"Meet Diego!” This is the one in which we are first introduced to Dora’s older cousin, Diego, in a blatant launch vehicle for the spinoff series Go Diego Go!, which is even worse than Dora. It’s like when Kate Walsh got an entire episode of Grey’s Anatomy as a de facto pilot episode of Private Practice. YOU GUYS KNOW WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ’BOUT.

Pros

Dora was the first big bilingual children’s cartoon. For many English-speaking kids, it’s their first exposure to the Spanish language, which is nice. For many bilingual kids, it’s accessible, which is nice. I just wish it didn’t come in the guise of a screaming latchkey idiot child. I guarantee you there are angry rednecks out there who bristle every time Dora starts yelling in Spanish at their kids. THIS IS ’MERICA. SPEAK ’MERICAN, LITTLE SEN-YO-RITA.

Cons

LOUD. So loud. Dora addresses the viewer directly all the time, and I just want her to leave me the hell alone. I think it’s great that she’s proud of me for helping her get to the Jellybean Desert, but I don’t need that “WE DID IT” song humping my face for five minutes every week as my reward.

And Dora now exists in every possible medium: games, toys, school supplies, toothpaste, and so on. She’s omnipresent. Like God, if God were a loud pain in the ass. I can’t escape her. I turn on my CPU, and she’s demanding that I add more balloons to her train. Piss off, lady. Do your own homework for once.

Previously in WYCTPS: Max & Ruby | Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! | Chuggington

Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at drew@deadspin.com. You can also order Drew's new book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.