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Does a Dose of Controversy Help An Animated TV Show?

by Charles Kenny
June 3, 2013 12:01 AM
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Shezow purple image

This past week there was a bit of a hubbub surrounding the latest show to be broadcast on The Hub. Entitled SheZow, it revolves around a 12 year old boy named Guy who acquires superhero powers that also have the effect of turning him into a girl.

The show has been broadcast in the home states of the production companies (Australia and Canada) without incident, but in the week prior to its US premiere, concerns were raised regarding the nature of the show's content.

This (naturally) raised the show's profile even further (what's known as the Streisand Effect) and led to the Hub releasing the first episode online for free to potentially aid parents in their decision-making.

When all is said and done though, did the controversy help or hinder the show? Do controversial shows really have an edge when it comes to their success?

Looking back at The Simpsons and the controversy hoops that that show went through in its early years, they clearly did it no harm at all. In fact, the show went above and beyond by actively poking fun at their detractors and engaging with them too. Two Bad Neighbors remains a favourite of fans a critics alike and a highwater mark of animated political satire.

On another level, SpongeBob Squarepants has been on the receiving end of criticism multiple times for supposedly indoctrinating kids with immoral messages. That show too, has suffered no ill-effects and continues to make billions for Viacom. 

It's understandable that once a show becomes a hit, there can be plethora of voices clamoring to bring it down for all sorts of reasons. However, given that a show like SheZow with next to no broadcast history in a country can be a target based on its premise alone, is the attention paid to it a good thing, or ultimately a scar and detriment to its long term success?

Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.

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More: SheZow


  • Johnny | June 5, 2013 1:54 AMReply

    Would this show have been just another completely ignored cheaply produced flash cartoon if the element of cross dressing had not been a part of the basic premise? Yes.

    People need to get over their issues with cross dressing and this show needs to be called out for using it as a just a cheap gag.

  • Roberto Severino | June 4, 2013 4:46 PMReply

    Pete, I found this show to be pretty tame especially for the kind of subject matter that it's been getting heat for. The real thing that should be pissing off people and making them change the channel is the terrible Flash animation and lame designs.

  • Pete Emslie | June 4, 2013 10:41 AMReply

    I seriously wonder who the real target audience is for this show. If the creator was honest, I think he'd have to admit that it's really aimed at the ultra-liberal teen and twentysomething crowd, not young kids. Maybe young girls might like it, but I'd suggest that most young boys would be very much put off by the premise, as it's got a high degree of the "Ick" factor. Frankly, if I'd stumbled upon this show when I was a young kid, I'd have switched the channel over to "The Flintstones" real fast!

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