Doc McStuffins, an animated television show for preschoolers, first produced by Disney Junior in 2012, is about a 6-year-old girl who acts as a doctor to toys. When a toy isn’t performing properly, Doc takes it to her playhouse in her backyard, which is set up as a doctor’s office with a waiting room in the front room and an exam room in the back. With her stuffed animals acting as assistants, Doc uses critical thinking skills to perform check-ups on the toys and find out what the problem is. Then she writes down their ailment in her Big Book of Boo Boos and prescribes a solution or treatment for the problem. A celebratory song is often sung after a successful treatment.
Although the show doesn’t really focus on science or human medicine, the characters are well-developed and the dialogue is rich and believable. Character development is prioritized over plot devices and the characters’ reactions are believable and not overdramatized or overlooked. Doc McStuffins is such a real and human child that she’s easy and fun to watch and cheer on and her humanity and eagerness to help others bring a lot of heart and warmth to the show. The show also reflects a more diverse society by having an African American main character and featuring a mom in the traditionally masculine profession of doctor, while Doc’s dad is the one who stays home and cooks and takes care of the house, jobs considered to traditionally more feminine. Additionally, as a Common Sense Media reviewer states, Doc McStuffins is “series that sends excellent messages to kids about imaginative play, caring for others, and problem solving” that encourages “independence and a can-do attitude” (Ashby).
Although the show is not driven by a product marketing campaign, the show does lend itself quite well to commercial products. Doc’s friends and patients are toys, which are very easily made into toys that children can ask for in the store. And while this doesn’t seem to have influenced the show itself or affected its quality, it may mean that every trip to Target coincides with pleas for a Stuffy or Lambie or Doc McStuffin’s doctor bag and coat to be purchased. However, the show is highly-rated, encourages children to sympathize with others and to engage in critical thinking, has well-written characters that are positive role models, enjoyable songs (unless you have to listen to them on repeat 500 times in a row, I imagine), and is adorable. Just give in to the adorablitis and maybe limit it to one Stuffy plush.
Ashby, E. Doc McStuffins. Common Sense Media. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-reviews/doc-mcstuffins