We’ve got our first glimpse of what Apple TV+’s kid-friendly programming is going to look like, thanks to trailers for Ghostwriter and Helpsters.
Ghostwriter reboots a popular children’s mystery/fantasy series that originally ran from 1992 through 1994. It involved a group of diverse kids who solve crimes and mysteries with the help of a ghost, which can communicate only by rearranging letters and words to form sentences.
Helpsters, meanwhile, is a Sesame Street-style show all about learning to help. The question: Can these shows help Apple TV+ become a success?
Apple’s kid-friendly programming
Breaking from the original series, Apple’s version of Ghostwriter involves a haunted bookstore that releases fictional characters into the real world. It sounds like Night at the Museum or the movie version of Goosebumps.
In the just-released trailer (you can see it and Helpsters‘ trailers here), the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland makes an appearance. Only the characters played by actors Amadi Chapata, Justin Sanchez, Isaac Arellanes and Hannah Levinson can see the rabbit.
Unlike trailers for other Apple TV+ series, the Ghostwriter teaser consists of a single scene rather than a compilation of moments. The original TV show was educational, focused on teaching elementary school kids to read and write. However, it remains hard to get a handle on exactly how Apple’s version will play.
The Apple TV+ show certainly doesn’t seem to reimagine the show as more adult. However, if there’s a good script, Ghostwriter could turn out to be enjoyable family entertainment, rather than totally kid-focused. Other books spotted in the trailer include two books from Paolini’s Eragon series, Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass and The Amber Spyglass, and Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks in Spring. Whether those are Easter eggs or references to future episodes isn’t clear.
If there’s a modicum of doubt about the exact target audience of Ghostwriter, that’s not the case for Helpsters. Made by the folks at Sesame Workshop, it’s clearly aimed at preschool kids. The show is about a group of puppets who work in a store. As far as I’m aware, these puppets are not existing Sesame Street characters like Big Bird, but rather original characters.
Why these Apple TV+ shows are so important
Of all the Apple TV+ shows, these are least aimed at my demographic. However, there is good reason to be interested in them. The biggest challenge facing streaming services right now is Disney+. All the Marvel and Star Wars content will help make Disney’s service a hit. But I suspect that many parents will subscribe just to get classic Disney content.
With Apple TV+ supposedly shying away from adult themes, making good kid-friendly content could be one way to carve out a name for itself. Cupertino therefore needs to knock it out of the park with its first family-friendly shows.
As someone with a 2-year-old kid obsessed with shows like Peppa Pig, it’s pretty evident how much money there is to be made by appealing to this demographic. Furthermore, I suspect that shows aimed at kids are far more likely to be rewatched multiple times. That gives them a longer shelf life.
If Apple can get this right, it could be onto a winner. Of course, we’ll have to wait until November 1 when Apple TV+ launches to find out.