Don't Hug Me I'm Scared
Subverted Kids Show
A Subverted Kids Show was a term to refer to material that looked like it belonged to a children's television program, but upon closer inspection, turned out it was anything but kid friendly. One good example was the web series Don' Hug Me I'm Scared. This show looked like something out of Sesame Street or something made by The Jim Henson Company, but the themes and aesthetic became seriously twisted by the end of an episode. Starring the characters Red Guy, Yellow Guy, and Green Bird, Don't Hug Me I'm Scared was created by the group THIS IS IT Collective and featured its characters dealing with different, mundane topics, but in a way that made the viewer freak out about how these lessons took some astonishingly dark turns. In the first episode, which talked about creativity, the episode started fairly whimsical, but by the end of the episode the moral seemed to say that being too creative would lead to scariness and a life filled with nightmares. In the episode where the subject about time, the idea of the progress of time and the inevitable end to all things made the last few minutes of this episode become something that was even more scarier than the scary aesthetics of the first episode. Fortunately, the fourth episode, which dealt with technology, acknowledged past episodes in interesting ways and it was not as frightening to watch all the way through. Don't Hug Me I'm Scared was a fairy surreal piece of web content, but its freaky aesthetics were fairly interesting.
In the first episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared the theme was on creativity. Starting normally enough, this episode began with a talking notebook automatically singing, to the surprise of the three protagonists of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. Singing about how it liked to think about things creatively. One example involved an orange that looked ordinary, but through the notebook's eyes, it saw a face and legs which allowed it to walk around. Another example of creativeness involved seeing clouds and all of the different shapes it could take. One hint that this episode might become something scary involved the notebook pouring black paint all over a painting of a clown. It was not overtly scary, but the black paint slowly covering the colorful painting was somewhat unsettling. Pretty soon, after singing a line about how one should listen to the creative voices in one's brain, the episode switched into a montage of various acts of creativeness. Almost immediately disturbing moments like the Red Guy covering a human heart in glitter, the Green Bird eating a cake filled with bloody organs and painting the word death and adding pictures of skulls, and the the three characters acting mentally disturbed began popping up. After that little montage, the notebook ended the episode by promising that nobody should be creative ever again. As the first episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, this episode was what helped establish certain aspects about this series for viewers. It looked like something from Sesame Street, it had certain theme for every episode, and it always presented something that was unsettling for the viewers. Here, the moral seemed to be that being too creative can be scary, and it is a good idea to establish limits on creativity.
While Creativity may have shown viewers that having too much creativity may be somewhat frightening at some point, the second episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared dealt with the subject of time, which was a subject that always became depressing at some point. Starting ordinarily enough, Time, the second episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared had the three main characters sitting around a house waiting for a show to air. Suddenly, a clock started to come to life and suggested singing to pass the time. Of course, nobody knew who this clock was. But the clock just started singing regardless. At first the song seemed somewhat whimsical and talked about how time was all around us. Unfortunately, the three characters, and the viewers, were forced to hear this song despite protests. So in the next parts of the clock's song, the viewer and the three characters got to hear about the past and how many things eventually rot away overtime. After talking about the past, the clock then showed visuals about the future and some of the innovations that came to be thanks to the progress of time. Unfortunately, at this point Time became somewhat more disturbing, with visuals of dead or eaten fish, the Yeallow Guy's ears bleeding, and all of the characters aging and decaying at the same time. Here, the viewers got to see the characters turn into visceral versions of themselves as their flesh began to rot away. Fortunately, while the viewer had to learn the lesson that everybody eventually runs out of time, none of the main characters were permanently hurt.
Technology, the fourth episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared was different in that it did not turn into a nightmarish episode like the older episodes. Sure it started out weird, what with the misdirection with the talking globe, the computer with the strangely organic digital mind, and the surreal moments within the digital world, but this was probably the least frightening of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared's content. Perhaps the scariest this episode got was the reference of the Time episode, but that was really it. Basically, Technology dealt with a talking computer who constantly talked about how it was this marvel of technology, how it made the world so much better, and how it was going to show the protagonists of this show some wonderful things. Hilariously, the Red Guy points out that they already had a computer, but the bigger computer wanted all the attention. Unfortunately, the Red Guy kind of got the big computer mad, which resulted in Don't Hug Me I'm Scared introducing one of the more surreal moments in its repertoire. Here the viewer was introduced to the concept of digital avatars. Essentially, people in the real world were able to project themselves into the digital world, even the computer. However, another aspect about technology that this episode acknowledged was the concept of glitches. The glitch in this case caused a part of the episode to go on a loop for a few minutes until the Red Guy decided to get out of the room. And end on a very weird note.
Don't Hug Me I'm Scared was a fairly recent example of a Subverted Kids Show. Basically, some aspect of this show was presented as not suited for children despite the show as a whole being presented as children friendly. The characters looked like characters from Sesame Street, the songs started out very whimsical, and everything was bright and colorful. Which made the nightmarish plot twists all the more shocking. Which was awesome for some viewers, apparently.