Screen Time

Are the Aliens Wearing Life Jackets? and Other Questions From Kids’ TV Standards and Practices

"We're worried about Neil Apestrong."

Photo illustration by Slate. Images by Thinkstock and Screencap from Disney XD.

Why is it that Daniel Tiger never tells kids that fire is cool? Why can’t Maya the Bee’s sting trigger a severe allergic reaction? Because of standards and practices, or S&P, the department that protects the audience from getting hurt (and the network from getting sued) by reining in writers like me who are eager to take advantage of the fact that kids will imitate anything. We aren’t even allowed to communicate directly with S&P most of the time. Their instructions are delivered to us from on high by their faithful messengers, the network executives, not carved onto two stone tablets but rather in an email that nevertheless commands, “Thou shalt not depict skateboarding characters without proper safety attire.” It is truly a thankless job, yet they consistently exhibit the infinite patience and maturity it takes to safeguard the minds of future generations against … well, see for yourself:


Actual Notes I Have Received From Standards and Practices in My Career


  • We’ll need to review the design of the metal claw vacuum. Please ensure it appears fantastical and, when it attaches to his body, please avoid showing any point of injection.
  • Please revise the movie title Weiner-babes of Snowdog City.
  • Please substitute for “dork” as it is slang for penis.
  • Please substitute for “Fanny Pack” as Fanny can be problematic internationally.
  • To have a child named “Tacky Snotbucket” is inappropriate as it can be seen as name-calling since it clearly describes her lack of good taste and sinus conditions. Please revise.
  • Equating a raccoon’s family’s misfortune to a real-life human scenario that begins with unemployment and escalates to homelessness, lack of funds for medicine, and a child having to drop out of school to help support the family seems inappropriate, despite their admission that they love living in a garbage can. We don’t want to give the misperception that we are making light of or trying to derive humor from a tragic, human situation.
  • When we first see the aliens waking up on the beach, we should see that they are clearly wearing life jackets.
  • Please ensure all daredevil tight-ropers are only a few feet off the ground and wearing appropriate safety gear.
  • Please revise “Maybe you have brain damage” to something less specific like “Are you OK?”
  • Caution that the chimpanzee is not driving dangerously erratically. Please also revise his partner’s line to read something like “What are you doing? Slow down!” Additionally we should hear an apology for his unsafe driving when they’re reunited in Monkeymax Prison.
  • Please revise the hallway nuclear bomb scene. Nuclear bombs are an issue for international.
  • Please ensure that the DoubleChocaMochaFrappaEspresso-nator 9000 Coffee Blaster is fictitious and cleared by production legal.
  • Caution that the ancient statue of our main character is clearly NOT their God and they are clearly NOT worshipping it. We avoid religious elements in children’s programming.
  • Caution that oven mittens are worn when taking the soufflé out of the oven. Also, please substitute for the word “die” in “Don’t you die on me,” when the chef attempts CPR on the soufflé. CPR should be performed in accordance with AHA guidelines.
  • Caution that Legal clears MNASA (Monkey NASA) for use as fictitious.
  • In the car race scene, please revise “Then let’s put the pedal to the metal, ‘cause I feel the need for speed.” We don’t want to give the impression that we are encouraging driving at excessive speeds. As long as they never start the car, this segment should be fine.
  • A caution that Neil Apestrong’s violent puking occurs off-screen and stays within reasonable bounds of good taste.
  • Please lose all instances of “hubba hubba.”
  • Please revise stabbing the loud students with climbing spikes as this could be very dangerous if replicated. Using something more fantastical to make him yell would be preferred.
  • A caution on the intensity of the bus crashing into the volcano. It should be clear that the students are unharmed. At no point can we see “Lava raining down on their heads.”
  • It would be preferable if the ketchup didn’t spray directly into the teacher’s eyes. Having the ketchup spray his face would be a better option as long as he quickly wipes it off and we see he is unharmed.
  • A reminder that both characters should be wearing helmets while riding the T-Rex.