Lost & Found: Wonder Showzen


Wonder Showzen is one of those bizarre TV creations that shouldn’t have been allowed to air. A kids programme designed for adults, it blends animation with live-action to create an alternative variety show that is ingenious yet undeniably offensive.

Its opening credits set the scene for what’s to come, announcing, “Wonder Showzen contains offensive, despicable content that is too controversial and too awesome for actual children.”

It’s understandable that its assortment of cartoons, puppets and musical numbers could easily be misconstrued, but its subject content is far too mature and insulting to be considered appropriate fodder for children.

Each episode revolves around themes that range from slavery to justice and act as the focal point around which the various sketches are presented. Of the sketches themselves, one of the more memorable segments is “Beat Kids”, where children acting as roving reporters ask controversial questions to people on the street. In one scene, a young girl walks up to a corporate looking man and asks, “Who did you exploit today?”

The similarity Wonder Showzen shares with programmes such as Sesame Street is uncanny, but where the latter uses puppets as a learning platform to teach kids how to read, count and behave correctly in society, the former uses the same technique of child/puppet interaction to create searing satire for adults. Instigated mainly through the sarcastic, yellow fluff ball Chauncey Darlington Butler, questions are posed such as, “Where do babies come from?” and “What is your greatest wish?” the most notable answer being, “I wish I had my innocence back.” It’s this commentary on American culture that gives the show its razor-sharp edge and allows it to stand out against other tentative styled comedy.

While moments tread a fine line between humour and political correctness, the means at which it’s presented is intended ironically. However, it’s understandable that many viewers could find the content somewhat racist and tasteless.

For those that like their TV unorthodox and outlandish, this is a comedic gem that places standard conventions on their head; a hilariously risqué show that points out all that’s askew in society.

Taken from The Studentpublished Tue Feb 28th 2012.

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