At a glance, parental hatred for Blippi and his insanely popular YouTube video series seems irrational.
After all, the guy (real name: Stevin John) pulls in hundreds of millions of clicks all over the globe every time he plays at a park or bops around a children’s museum. But for moms and dads who view Blippi disdainfully, his voice, orange spectacle frames, spelling errors and perceived lack of water safety in and around swimming pools has sparked everything from playful parodies to vitriolic posts on Reddit.
Amazon Kids+ (a paid add-on to Prime Video) is hoping to improve that perception with its new family-friendly series Blippi’s Treehouse, which is now streaming and includes his more palatable bestie Meekah (Sprout alum Kaitlyn Becker), puppets Patch and Scratch, celebrity guests such as Jordin Sparks and a curriculum shaped by an educational consultant.
There are also field trips, a library and animated shorts to help kids learn about everything from dinosaurs to aerodynamics. Four episodes will drop on Amazon Kids+ every other month, and the premiere installment is also available on YouTube.
“His content is so entertaining, and kids love him,” Veronica Pickett, head of original series at Amazon Kids+, tells TVLine. “It’s also educational, which is something we really responded to when coming up with Blippi’s Treehouse. When kids watch him, they learn new things in a way that’s authentic and natural.”
The addition of cartwheeling Meekah also adds a new layer to the viewing experience, says Katelynn Heil, general manager of Blippi for Moonbug Entertainment. For instance, Blippi is reactive, but Meekah is proactive, she says.
“All of us are excited about the addition of Meekah to the franchise,” Heil reveals. “Kaitlin Becker, who plays her, could not be more phenomenal. We met her about a year and a half ago when we were thinking of bringing a female cohost to the brand. She’s got experience in edutainment, and she’s a mom herself. Audiences immediately responded to her, and some fans even dressed up like her for Halloween.”
The harder sell will be trying to convince adults who call Blippi a Pee-wee Herman rip-off that he’s not, especially when Blippi’s Treehouse sounds a heck of a lot like Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Moonbug’s Heil argues that Blippi is more modern, inclusive and relatable.
“The show is all about bringing more of what fans already love while introducing elements that are new,” Heil adds. “Stevin was inspired by Pee-wee when creating Blippi, but he was also inspired by Mister Rogers and a lot of other live-action educators.”
Are you going to give Blippi’s Treehouse a try? Why or why not? Drop your thoughts in the comments.