Throughout her young life, my daughter has gone from being absolutely obsessed with all things Frozen to not wanting to watch anything that wasn’t Kiki’s Delivery Service, as well as other movies and shows that became staples in our house for shorter periods of time. But the past few months, she wants to watch (and talk about) one show and one show only: Craig of the Creek.
At any given hour of any given day, Matt Burnett and Ben Levin’s Cartoon Network animated series is either playing on the living room TV, our little Google Hub in the kitchen, or my Nintendo Switch, which has pretty much become hers as of late.
After catching pieces of episodes here and there, I decided to check it out myself and see what all the fuss was about. And let me tell ya, this show is actually really, really good…
This Show Perfectly Captures The Joy Of Exploring The Woods With Your Friends
For the uninitiated, the show follows a young boy named Craig Williams and his two friends, Kelsey Pokoly and J.P. Mercer as they explore the creek and the patch of woods behind their neighborhood, where a world without parents and real life problems no longer exists. And honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that does a better job of capturing the joy of exploring the woods with your friends. Seriously.
Watching Craig of the Creek takes me back to those days of my youth spent exploring the ditch and connected bayou that cut through what seemed like a never-ending forest behind my childhood home. The freedom, the joy, the imaginative explorations of a world free of everyday concerns is something that has stuck with me all these years later. Memories and feelings long tucked away in my subconscious have resurfaced because of this show, and that’s something I didn’t expect to happen.
Craig Of The Creek Caters To Multiple Audiences Without Neglecting Any Of Them
As the members of the generation that grew up watching ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons have kids of their own, it’s not all shocking to see more and more animated series that appeal to both adults and children. And you can add Craig of the Creek to that list, because it’s one of those shows my kids and I can sit down and watch together without either of us getting bored or feeling lost. It’s a perfect combination of humor, heart, and nostalgia.
There’s a little something for everyone in each of the show’s episodes, which are typically no more than 11 minutes in length. Great jokes and incredible messages create this amazing experience that will leave you stuck to the couch for a few hours if you’re not careful. And though I love showing my kids shows like The Simpsons, more times than not, the jokes fly way over their heads (my son once asked when the show was going to be “funny”). That’s not the case with Craig of the Creek, and I’m cool with that.
The Voice Cast Is Absolutely Perfect
Another thing that I’ve learned watching Craig of the Creek is that the voice cast is absolutely perfect and adds so much to the show. Philip Solomon’s portrayal of Craig Williams, Noël Wells take on Kelsey Pokoly (Georgie Kidder voiced her in the first few episodes), and H. Michael Croner’s J.P. Mercer are obviously the highlights of the voice cast and they add this childhood wonder to their performances, but the rest of the actors are equally effective in their roles.
Legendary voice actor Phil LaMarr’s take on Craig’s older brother, Bernard Williams, adds a nice touch to the show, as does Lucia Cunningham’s portrayal of his younger sister, Jessica. Craig’s parents, Duane and Nicole, are voiced by Terry Crews and Kimberly Hébert Gregory, respectively, are tremendous in their performances, especially Crews, who can do no wrong. Even the hilarious Lil Rel Howery pops up from time to time as Craig’s Uncle Darnell, perfectly captures the essence of a boastful younger brother.
I Think It’s Awesome My Daughter Is Watching A Show That Celebrates Diversity And Multi-Layered Characters
I think it's great for my daughter and her siblings to watch a show like Craig of the Creek that is filled with not only a diverse cast but also multi-layered and three-dimensional characters who are incredibly rich for a children’s show.
Watch any given episode, and you’ll see kids of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds looking past their different upbringings and life experiences while playing in the creek behind their neighborhood. Shows like this go a long way in exposing younger viewers to people and cultures unlike their own, which can help foster a better understanding of the world around them. Combine that with incredible LGBTQ+ representation that is so eloquently written, and it just gets all the better.
‘In The Key Of The Creek’ Could Be The Best Musical Episode Of A Cartoon Ever
As a guy who spent much of his high school and college years playing in punk bands, going to punk shows, and even putting on a house show here and there, I have been a fan of the Craig of the Creek intro since before I even watched an episode with my kid. The music, written by Jeff Rosenstock, of bands like The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, Bomb the Music Industry, and several others, has always been a bright spot for the show, but the musical episode, “In the Key of the Creek” took things to the next level.
The episode, which follows Craig as he imagines a fantastical adventure in the creek during a rainy Saturday, features everything from synth-heavy anthems like “I Wish I Were at the Creek” to songs like “Do Ya Know?” that sound like some of the ska-punk bands featured on the Epitaph Records’ Punk-o-Rama compilations to some moody ska songs like “Tread Carefully” that are reminiscent of The Specials.
Lastly, Craig Of The Creek Does An Incredible Job Of Championing Childhood Imagination
But my absolute favorite thing about Craig of the Creek is the incredible way it champions childhood imagination. Going off into the woods and creating our own adventures was something my friends and I did all the time back in the day, and those were honestly some of the best days of my childhood.
I don’t know if my kids’ recent push to put down their devices and run outside to create some far-fetched story is a direct result of Craig of the Creek or not, but I like to think that the show’s way of championing imagination and creativity has something to do with it, if only slightly.
All in all, I’m glad my daughter (and now her two siblings) stumbled across Craig of the Creek, and I can’t wait to see what the show does next. And while it’s not yet known when or if the show’s fifth season will pop up on the 2023 TV schedule, I’ll be right there with my kids watching upon its debut.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.