Conservative kids’ shows find a market
Independent studios tout conservative and moral programming as alternatives to Hollywood and Disney
Mark and Emily Werle of Harmony, Pa., are parents of three children between the ages of 9 and 12. Emily said that as the kids get older, the family hasn’t seen TV shows that support the values she and her husband teach — “at least mirroring morals and a lot of character traits and serving others,” she said. The kids enjoy YouTube and games, and the family has movie nights, avoiding teen dramas and often watching films with sci-fi or fantasy themes. The parents watch their kids’ reactions to see how their behavior is being impacted by the media they see.
“We’re always looking for [shows] to be character-building, for the most part,” Mark said. Emily noted that while parental controls are good on apps and websites, they don’t always work.
To meet the needs of families like the Werles, studios and distributors are investing in children’s programming with conservative values. The conservative news company The Daily Wire announced late last month it is expanding its video entertainment to include children’s programming.
The Daily Wire has recently produced shows for adult audiences that feature dark and gritty themes, such as Terror on the Prairie and Shut In, a film about a woman locked in a pantry by her ex-boyfriend. The company will now put at least $100 million into children’s media in the coming three years, according to co-CEO Jeremy Boreing. In an announcement, the company said the decision was a response to progressivism at other media companies, including Disney, whose CEO Bob Chapek took a stand against a recently passed Florida bill that bars public school teachers from giving lessons about sexual orientation to students from kindergarten through third grade.
In its announcement, The Daily Wire referenced American families’ worries about left-wing media “brainwashing” their children. It pointed to its coverage of a recent incident involving leaked videos, in which a Disney executive stated her “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” for the company’s programming. In 2020, the Netflix original series The Baby-Sitter’s Club, based on a teen book series, features a transgender child and promotes transgender ideology.
In contrast, Angel Studios (The Chosen) revealed it has made progress on its animated movie about the Biblical story of David, slated for release in 2024. According to the project’s Facebook page, the creators hope to make “an epic movie with a powerful message while standing alongside the likes of Moana and Tangled for quality and entertainment value.”
An animated fantasy series, The Wingfeather Saga, is also in the works from Angel Studios, based on Christian author and musician Andrew Peterson’s books of the same name. Planned for release next winter, the show is executive produced by J. Chris Wall (VeggieTales), according to its funding page.
Streaming services like PureFlix and RightNow Media also offer wholesome and faith-based children’s programming, including the Bibleman and VeggieTales series. The Beverlys, a PureFlix original series about three orphan girls, has a Disney-channel feel, according to CEO Michael Scott. He touted PureFlix as a safe space for both kids and adults to avoid objectionable content that can be ubiquitous on other streaming services.
RightNow President Brian Mosley describes his company’s series The Creators as a show about kids who make movies that promote virtue.
“For us, it’s always going to be about discipleship,” said Mosley. He said RightNow Media provides media resources for churches, which in turn make it available to member families, giving parents discipleship opportunities with their kids.
Hollywood productions can often be dark with violence and sex, said Scott, the PureFlix CEO. “People are looking ultimately, I think — especially in today’s world with all that’s going on — they’re looking to be inspired.”
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