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Zen and the Art of Yo Gabba Gabba

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bad mom when it comes to screen time. I blame my oldest daughter; she is a wonderful, kind, caring, brilliant girl, but…she talks.

All. The. Time.

And when she was little, and couldn’t talk, she cried.

All. The. Time.

She probably cried because she had so much to say and didn’t have the words to say it. But anyway, I discovered that if I let her watch TV, she’d stop crying (or talking) blessedly long enough for me to think a coherent thought. Or at least play a game of Plants vs. Zombies. Whichever thing I needed to do that day.

The point is, we’ve always been a TV family. I’ve watched all the standard kids shows, many times, to the point where now when I flip past Max and Ruby I kind of want to turn it on to see how those crazy kids are faring. (Did you know they have parents now?? I don’t know where they were all those years, but I guess they finally showed up from their extended bunny hiatus).

Most of the shows, even if, by my adult standards were dumb or silly, made sense. There were British pigs, there were explorers, there were mice that wore pants and gloves. Sure, if I thought about the plot or situation too much, questions arose. Did the Mickey Mouse gang actually live in the clubhouse, or just visit? What is that weird, white world that Pocoyo lives in? And why doesn’t Nina’s mom insist she pee before she leave the house? But most of these questions were minor at least, a little troubling at best.

But then there was Yo Gabba Gabba.

Try as I might, I could never wrap my mind around Yo Gabba Gabba. There were so many questions. I would sit with my then three-year-old while she ate her lunch on my lap and my mind would spin in a vortex of confusion.

For example:

  • Why does Muno look lik a giant “massager?” And do the costumers know his zipper is fully visible?
  • Is Brobee perpetually three? Why can’t he find creatures his own age? Does he actually have bones in his arms, or just floppy cartilage?
  • Is D.J. Lance some sort of god-like figure that controls the whole Gabba Universe? If so, what does this say about the nature of our existence?
  • What is that weird white Gooble thing that shows up once in a while – and if he’s not one of the original “statues” D.J. Lance brings to life, where does he come from? Is he a paler version of Muno, like a white asparagus?
  • Why is Toodee the only one who even vaguely resembles a real-life animal? And is she really just kind of a jerk? Maybe she feels superior to the others?
  • And don’t get me started on that woman that shows up in the shiny gold lame, or the episode with Jack Black.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

Most people would tell me I think too much (in fact, that’s happened more than once), but I couldn’t let it go. My mind needed to make sense of the whole mess, aside from just “all these people are on drugs.” There was no logic, no reason in the world of Gabba. Just color and irritating earworms that would stick with me for days, like “don’t bite your friends!,” or the ever-popular “there’s a party in my tummy – so yummy, so yummy!”

One day, though, it hit me. Like a bolt out of the LSD- fueled blue.

There is no why of Yo Gabba Gabba. It just is.

When I stopped trying to make sense of the show, I started enjoying it more and more. I couldn’t “get” it, because there’s nothing to “get.” It just existed. There were creatures, and they were weird, and they sang songs, and they were colorful, and that’s why the kids liked it. It didn’t have meaning on a larger scale. It was fun and entertaining and I just had to take it at face value.

I’ve had years of therapy and even an intensive cognitive behavioral therapy workshop that lasted six months, all in hopes of achieving that same level of inner peace. All of these efforts failed on some level where Gabba succeeded. I find this remarkable, and I’m sure as hell not telling my insurance provider.

Sometimes, now, when my brain starts spinning and trying to make sense of things, I have to think back to an unspoken Yo Gabba Gabba earworm.

I picture Muno and Foofa chanting to Gooble, with D.J. Lance smiling beatifically in the background:

“You…got…to let…that stuff… go!”

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