Children’s Horror: What the fuck is going on in Lazy Town?

Hi, everyone who came here looking for Lazy Town themed pornography! There isn’t any here, sorry! Enjoy the read, though – this was one of my favourites. Or you could play my game – it has plenty of swearing and sexual references, promise!

As I’m attempting to ease myself gingerly back into the slightly-too-hot bath water of writing without scalding the testicles of my, I don’t know, ennui or something, I figure I’ll return to a former source of productivity: fucked up children’s television. The boy is still a couch potato in the making, and fairly indiscriminate in his tastes, so he’ll sit in front of pretty much anything with bright colours. He took a shine to Chuggington, but I’ve already gone over the horrors of train-based children’s entertainment, and Chuggington doesn’t really add much disquiet to the genre. (Apart from Hoot and Toot, the conjoined twin trains – I’m not sure what’s more disturbing: the fact that they can tear themselves apart and reattach if they want to, or the fact that, knowing this, they choose to spend almost all of their time stuck together anyway.)

There’s a scheming maniac who lives under the town.

No, of all the things we’ve allowed the boy to funnel down his optic nerves, Lazy Town has so far been the most worrying. A joint Icelandic-British-American production, it’s the brainchild of Nordic superhuman Magnús Scheving. Magnús – Christ, even his name makes him sound like a superhero – is a former champion gymnast who writes, directs, sings the theme song and, I assume, builds the sets, hammering nails in with his bare fingers while performing post-production using editing software he coded himself. Lazy Town wrapped in 2007 – he must be secretly running the planet by now. About the only thing he didn’t excel at was creating a children’s show that won’t cause you to wake in the middle of the night screaming “wait, what? WHAT?!

Just have a look:

(I could start with the Vengaboys-esque soundtrack, but let’s not be music snobs, especially when there’s so much else to have a go at.)

The setup of the show is that a young girl called Stephanie comes to Lazy Town, where everyone is lazy. To get them all up and moving again, she calls on the supernaturally energetic Sportacus (Hr. Scheving) to motivate and help out the citizens. Things are complicated by Robbie Rotten, the scheming maniac who lives under the town. There’s a scheming maniac who lives under the town.

Actually, no, I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s look at the citizens of Lazy Town first. The first thing to note is that there are only six of them. The second is that they’re all puppets (the spookiest kind of puppet, too – the sort with hand-puppet-style rubber heads, but actual human hands, a la the Swedish Chef). Also of interest is the fact that four of them are children, none of whom appear to be related to the only two adults (the town mayor and his assistant). I haven’t seen every episode, but to my knowledge the complete absence of parents is never addressed. Just to rub it in, Stephanie came to Lazy Town because she’s apparently the mayor’s niece, despite him being a puppet and her a human.

So far, so weird. Every episode revolves around the kids trying to have fun and do something a bit active, while Sportacus helps them out in the most gratuitously acrobatic manner possible. Stephanie usually acts as his sidekick, although to be honest, if there’s a word to describe their relationship that isn’t “grooming”, I’m yet to find it. While they’re doing this, Robbie Rotten tries to stop them so that he can get some peace and quiet. Why he doesn’t take some time out from constructing supervillain staples like shrink rays and robot dogs to build better soundproofing into his lair is never discussed; instead he embarks on a wacky scheme every episode, which inevitably involves him wearing a wacky disguise, which the other characters inevitably fall for. Seriously – every time they’re surprised when it’s Robbie under the costume. Of course it’s Robbie! It’s always fucking Robbie! There’s no-one else it could be! There’s literally no-one else!!

Oh God, there’s literally no-one else.

That’s the explanation isn’t it? Lazy Town is actually a post-apocalyptic scenario in a world depopulated by some unspecified disaster. Lazy Town must be situated in one of the last un-devastated pockets of nature left on the otherwise smoking husk of the planet, to which Stephanie has fled following the collapse of society. Her near-manic perkiness could be put down to barely-suppressed hysteria over the horrors she’s already witnessed in her brief life. I doubt she really is the mayor’s niece – that’s probably just a comforting shared delusion they’re choosing to cling to, in order to bring some familial warmth to their doomed refuge.

And it would take a person of near superhuman ability to make their way in such a world, as Sportacus does – I probably should have twigged from the fact that he lives in an airship (in which he could easily float unthreatened above the ravaged wastelands), while Robbie skulks in a heavily reinforced subterranean bunker. This theory would also explain the look of Robbie and the Lazy Towners, too – they aren’t puppets; they’re horribly deformed mutants.

I said above that Lazy Town wrapped in 2007 – while checking up on some details for this post, I found that a new season started up again this year. Now that I’ve seen through to the dark secret at the heart of it, I am, to be honest, much more comfortable with my four-year-old son watching it.

2 thoughts on “Children’s Horror: What the fuck is going on in Lazy Town?

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