Peppa Pig just seeps into family life. You can be insistent you’re not going to watch it, but via some kind of cultural osmosis, it happens, and suddenly your toddler wants Peppa, Peppa, Peppa, all the time. Even with the best will in the world, one can suddenly find oneself eight episodes in, tired and confused.
In this era of Prestige TV, adult viewers are used to detailed episode recaps, complex mythology and intricate world-building (think Game Of Thrones). With most of the TV we watch, we analyse the hell out of after – so how can we not do that when we’re watching Peppa Pig?
Here are just some of the questions I’ve been left pondering after watching that famous pig on telly.
1. How exactly do names work?
In the world of Peppa Pig, everyone has their species as their surname, which automatically makes some of the customs we have around names redundant: Mummy Pig’s maiden name was Pig, and her married name is Pig. That’s one in the eye for patrilineality: good stuff.
Children all have names beginning with the same letter as their surname (and therefore, species) – Peppa Pig, Suzy Sheep and so on – apart from Peppa’s brother, George Pig. Why does George buck the trend?
Adults’ names seem to be determined based on their parental status, an unusual societal development. Daddy Pig’s name is Daddy Pig. What was his name before having a child? And if Peppa or George have a child while Grandpa Pig is still alive, will Daddy Pig’s name change to Grandpa Pig, and Grandpa Pig’s to Great-Grandpa Pig?
Childless adults are named after their job – Police Officer Panda and Dr Brown Bear, for instance – but if they have jobs without titles they use standard honorifics, like Mr Bull, Miss Rabbit and so on. But at what point do non-parent animals go from using a real first name to using an honorific? Was Madame Gazelle ever Mademoiselle Gazelle? IT’S ALL SO UNCLEAR.
2. Why are some animals just animals?
The vast majority of Peppa Pig’s word is populated by intelligent, anthropomorphic, equal-sized versions of familiar animals. But zoos and pets also exist – there are pet fish, tortoises and birds. Did something happen in this universe that only affected mammals, gifting them with human-level intelligence while leaving other species untouched?
If so, how does one explain Oliver Ostrich?
3. Is inter-species romance a thing?
In a world where most friendships are cross-species, why are all families limited to one species? Wouldn’t it make sense that there would be romantic cross-species relationships as well? Different animals can’t necessarily breed with one another, but you’d expect a few couples to be wandering around where one’s an antelope and one’s a panda, or whatever. Don’t most people ideally want to date outside their surname?
Former Lib Dem leadership candidate Norman Lamb (who, despite having an animal surname, wouldn’t fit into the Peppa Pig world due to a lack of alliteration) previously asked why there weren’t any gay characters, and he’s absolutely right. They can create a world where gazelles are teachers and doctors do home visits for injuries as mild as “a bumped leg” (something the British Medical Journal have deemed “inappropriate”), but they can’t let two dudes, one of whom is a buffalo and the other of whom is a warthog, snog?
4. Is humour different there?
There are jokes in Peppa Pig, but figuring out the difference between a joke that gets a giggle from one character and a joke that makes every character on screen roll around on the floor rocking hysterically seems nigh-on impossible. Every other episode ends with a pedestrian statement like, “That was fun” that makes everyone collapse in paroxysms of laughter. It’s baffling.
5. How does employment work in Peppa’s universe?
Miss Rabbit has a different job every time we see her. It’s a running gag, but it’s also really irritating, as sometimes she’s doing a job she would clearly have needed years of training for, but seems to have just wandered into it.
Employment works in strange ways in the universe of the show, anyway – in one episode, Mummy Sheep and Suzy Sheep are about to move to another country because Mummy Sheep has got a new job, and then she gets a phone call and they aren’t doing that anymore. You don’t book flights before actually confirming your start date, surely? It’s handled remarkably casually considering they’re about to head to the airport. Employment law reform is overdue over there.
6. Does “everyone” really like all this stuff?
The episodes that don’t end with the characters laughing their heads off, end with some sort of pronouncement about “everyone” by the narrator. For example: “George loves castles. Everyone loves castles!”, or “Peppa loves jumping in muddy puddles. Everyone loves jumping in muddy puddles!”
To be fair, most of the things he mentions are fairly universally beloved, but a statement like that needs a citation... surely?