PBS is losing one of its flagship programs. After 20 years on the public network, the Public Broadcasting Service reminded fans on Tuesday it has cancelled Caillou after two decades on the network. First premiering in the United States in September 2020, the series ended up broadcasting 144 episodes throughout the years. As of Tuesday, PBS revealed its intentions to no longer air new episodes of the beloved cartoon.
In addition to announcing the cancellation, the PBS Kids social media channels unveiled a website on how parents can communicate the cancellation to their kids.
"Now, before we go thinking that it’s silly to cry over the loss of a TV series, there’s actually scientific research about the attachment that people develop with media characters," Dr. Eric Rasmussen says on the PBS Site. "The relationships we form with these media friends are called 'parasocial relationships,' and we experience many of the same emotions with them as we do with our friends in real life. So, the more time we spend with our media friends, the greater the feelings of disappointment we’ll feel when they inevitably go away. It’s a real thing for adults and for children."
According to Rasmussen, the three steps parents can take include listening and empathizing, looking for the good in the situation, and empowering the future media choices of their children.
"While the end of a TV show or online game may not seem like a big deal to us, it can be a huge deal for kids," he adds. "As kids’ playtime and social interactions often involve media, it makes sense to meet kids where they are by helping them through these seemingly small disappointments. By learning how to deal with small media disappointments now, we can help set them up to deal with future setbacks in healthy, productive ways."