Cartoon Network, HBO Max Target Preschoolers with Woke Animated Shows

WarnerMedia/Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Cartoon Network and HBO Max are launching a new slate of programming aimed at preschoolers that will spotlight diversity, representation, and other woke issues, with shows like Little Ellen, which includes same-sex couples from producer Ellen DeGeneres, and Mush-Mush & The Mushables, about tiny guardians of the forest.

The new programming slate, called “Cartoonito,” debuted Monday on both the Cartoon Network and HBO Max, which are divisions of WarnerMedia.

In a press release, WarnerMedia said all “Cartoonito” preschool content will align with Cartoon Network’s recently announced tagline “Redraw Your World,” which aims to “empower kids to feel comfortable with who they are, embrace their uniqueness and believe anything is possible.”

WarnerMedia also said the programming will be based on something called “Humancentric Learning,” which it vaguely defined as the endeavor to “support every child’s humanness by celebrating their unique selves and encouraging them to interact with others with empathy, respect, and fairness.”

Among the new titles is the animated Little Ellen, which tells the story of a young Ellen DeGeneres and includes same-sex couples.

Ellen DeGeneres speaks at a ceremony honoring Pink with the 2,656th Star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame on February 05, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

“It’s these sweet little characters that always have the best intentions and are hopefully teaching kindness and supporting one another, and everything that a cartoon should be,” DeGeneres told the Associated Press.

“But it just happens to have a couple of characters that have same-sex parents. which is great. I think it’s always important for kids to be exposed to what is reality. This is reality,” she said. “It’s supportive.”

Ellen DeGeneres recently came under fire for overseeing a toxic work culture at her long-running daytime talk show, with allegations that male managers engaged in sexual harassment and assault on other male employees.

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The line-up also includes Jessica’s Big Little World, a spin-off of Cartoon Network’s Craig of the Creek, which featured gender non-binary and other LGBTQ characters.

A re-booted Tom & Jerry series is also part of the new slate. In addition to cat-and-mouse hijinks, the new show will spotlight what WarnerMedia called a “core learning curriculum, based in education and essential readiness research.”

Bea’s Block, an animated series from the Sesame Workshop, will celebrate multi-cultural diversity in an imaginary world of block toys. The series will premiere in 2022.

WarnerMedia said it is not trying to push a social agenda on kids.

“We are not aiming to push boundaries. We are aiming to be very intentional about what it is that we’re showing and saying, and what the kids are learning,” Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming for Warner Bros., told the AP.

“We are lucky to be able to be starting this at a time when we are all so much clearer now about what representation looks like.”

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