16 Hudson is a new animated show for kids of pre-school age. It focuses on four kids who live in the apartment building at that address who range from ages four to seven: Lili (Iranian), Amala (half-Irish, half-East Indian), Sam (Chinese) and Luc (Haitian). Luc is also adopted by Paul and Bayani, making 16 Hudson the first preschool show to feature a main character with two dads.
Each of the 39 episodes is about 7 minutes long, featuring the adventures of the kids. The show balances the multicultural lives of the children and their families, highlighting specific holidays, festivals or traditions of the families, and the everyday adventures and antics of the pre-schoolers. Each of the short stories has a little lesson nestled within the plot, the colorful animation and the humor.
Just over a year ago, I had the privilege to read a number of the scripts and offer feedback from a gay dad's point of view. Shabnam Rezaei, co-creator of the show and founder of its production company, Big Bad Boo Studios, reached out to me via Gays With Kids, to see if I would get involved. Among the scripts I read was "Huggle Day," which features a celebration of Luc's adoption day, and "Double Dad's Day" about how the children experience a special Father's Day event.
I asked Shabnam what she hopes to achieve with the show. She said, "A large portion of society is not being represented in kids' media and that needs to change. I have two kids and I know my family and so many families in our lives are not being shown on TV. To have role models, to have people you can look up to that normalize your existence at a young age gives you a feeling of self-worth and builds your confidence. I want every child to feel loved, self-assured and important. That matters."
In reading the scripts, I commented on how much my son has in common with Luc: a multi-racial adoption, two dads, plus an abundant, almost reckless energy and loads of questions without even waiting for answers. And one more: when I watched the "Huggle Day" episode with my kids for the first time, my son immediately said, "Luc looks like me!" Perfect, I thought, that's exactly what kind of show I want to see, because he still doesn't get to say that often.
Shabnam says she wants more feedback. "Tell other dads to write to us and let us know what they want to see more of and what resources they feel are missing. Also to write in to TVO Kids and Knowledge Kids to let them know they enjoy the show and that they want more episodes. We want to gain some traction with this content and see a lot more of it out there. We don't want to be a unicorn or something special. We want to be like any other show."