Max and Ruby are brother and sister. Max is three years old, Ruby is seven. They are also rabbits:
‘Max & Ruby celebrates the triumph of the individual against the impossible odds of being little… What goes on in the mind of a three-year-old boy is very different from what goes on in the mind of a seven-year-old girl, and Max and Ruby enjoy working and playing together in spite of their conflicting agendas. The brother and sister relationship is at the heart of these stories….’
Unfortunately, Max & Ruby is also one of Ian’s favorite shows on Noggin. Kelly and I hate this show. I have nothing against bunnies, or rabbits. Or bunny rabbits. I also think Max is awesome. My problem is with Ruby, and with the siblings’ parents.
Every episode is about Ruby having fun with friends, and Max tagging along. No one likes to feel left out, especially toddlers, and so when Max is bored and wants a little attention, Ruby just pushes him out of the way with a box of toys. They never play together, and Max never gets his way.
She belongs to the Bunny Scouts, and once took Max on a camping trip with the troop. Just as the girls were making s’mores and were about to tell ghost stories around the campfire, Ruby tells Max to go to bed. And then gets upset when he won’t stay in bed. Marshmallows. Ghost stories. Fire! She expects her three-year-old brother to stay away from fire?
Max gets the shaft. Always. It’s Ruby’s way or…nothing. Max can’t even take the highway – he’s only three. Ruby and a friend were painting, and Max was only allowed to be their model. When he kept trying to paint, Ruby only scolded him and said that Max was too young.
Ruby is a harpy. She’s a shrewish hare whose loving attention I wouldn’t wish upon Cinderella’s wicked step-mother. I know these are strong feelings toward a cartoon rabbit, and I’m dealing with that, but I really can’t stand her. She’s selfish and unrepentant, and is a vine strangling her brother’s childhood.
What bothers me about this show is that it’s supposed to be about the relationship between a brother and sister. This isn’t a relationship, it’s a dictatorship. Ruby and Max, like all siblings, have their conflicts, but they’re never resolved. Ruby never compromises with Max, nor does she apologize for her actions. Max is not taken seriously, and never has the chance to express himself.
And who’s responsible for Ruby’s reign of terror? The parents, whom we never see. Ever. There’s food in the fridge, clothing in the drawers, and a roof over heads, but there’s never a hair (Ouch. Sorry.) seen of the parents. Occasionally Grandma stops by, and the Bunny Scouts have an adult leader, but for the most part Ruby and Max on on their own. Who’s raising these kids!
I know these are probably subtle issues which Ian won’t notice until he’s lost interest in the show, but the reason I won’t allow him to watch Max & Ruby again is more tangible.
This weekend Ruby and her friend, Louise, were painting a banner for a party. Because Ruby can’t be bothered to take an interest in her brother, she tells him to play with the Louise’s little cousin, Morris, who’s also been forced to tag along. Morris takes a page from Ruby’s book, hordes the best toys for himself, and won’t share with Max. ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’ is all Morris can say. Is Morris’ boundless greed ever checked? Of course not. Ruby and Louise just tell the two boys to share, and no discipline ever takes place.
After the show, Ian reaches for our camera, with which he knows he is not allowed to play. I ask for it, and he looks at me, frowns, and says, ‘Mine!’