Calliou The Grownup
Calliou The Grownup

‘Caillou the Grownup’ Shows the Terrifying Future of a Spoiled Child

This YouTube series imagines the titular (some might say obnoxious) character of the original PBS children's series as an adult — with the same off-putting mindset he had as a child.

We all know that one person who was never held accountable for their actions and it shows. They are rude, disrespectful and obnoxious. Some people will blame their parents, while others say that children possess the autonomy to offset a lack of parental discipline. Whichever side of this debate you fall on, imagine the worst-case scenario, where not only does a child grow up without being taught to respect others but also bullies and exploits their parents. This is the premise of AOK’s YouTube series “Caillou the Grownup.”

The Public Broadcasting Service is responsible for many children’s television shows, including “Arthur,” “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and “Caillou,” which teach children about life and learning, building an educational foundation for their future. AOK takes these shows and imagines a twisted future for their characters. Instead of aiming their content at children, AOK’s creators target the adults that grew up with PBS shows and spin them on their head.

The Premise of AOK’s “Caillou the Grownup”

“Caillou” was primarily a kids show geared toward small children. It followed the adventures of a small boy, Caillou, who would use his childish imagination to interact with the world around him. His childish behavior is the basis of AOK’s parody. AOK imagines a world where Caillou’s character has simply aged while still maintaining his childlike behavior, manipulating his parents to get his way.

AOK makes it very clear that “Caillou the Grownup” closely follows the premise of its source material. Most of AOK’s parodies revamp the original theme song to evoke nostalgia while hinting at the new show’s premise. In PBS’ “Caillou,” the original theme song contains the lines “I’m just a kid who’s four, each day I grow some more, I like exploring, I’m Caillou” and “growing up is not so tough, except when I’ve had enough.” In “Caillou the Grownup,” however, lines like “Now I’m 22, each day I think it’s cool I never grew up” mimics the perspective of a pretentious man-child.

Going From Innocent Kid to an Obnoxious Man-Child

“Caillou the Grownup” shows how Caillou is a manipulative monster due to his own choices, not his mother and father’s parenting style. The first episode of AOK’s “Caillou the Grownup” establishes a clear contrast between a child’s innocence and an incompetent, manipulative adult. As the first episode progresses, Caillou’s father labels him a “dumpster fire,” but also blames himself for Caillou being “whiney, spoiled and immature.”

At first, it appears as though Caillou’s dysfunction falls on his parents’ shoulders. Further exchanges with his father reveal that not only is he aware of how he appears to others, but he will be keen on exploiting it. Caillou threatens his dad, who responds by calling him a “monster.” Caillou ultimately feeds into his dad’s insecurities, replying that he “is just the monster you created” and that “I will ruin you.” This exchange makes it clear that “Caillou the Grownup” is not going to be lighthearted.

Manipulative Behavior Damages Caillou’s Relationships

Because Caillou seemingly makes it his personal mission to be a manipulative monster, it’s no surprise that he drags his family through his personal, day-to-day shenanigans. He disrupts the smooth functioning of normal, adult life, and creates chaos for his family during holidays, the global pandemic and even vacation. Caillou’s behavior drives a wedge between his dad and the rest of the family, all of whom struggle with how best to handle his behavior.

Who do you blame for bad behavior — the child or the parents who raised them? It’s a difficult question. AOK establishes that Caillou’s actions are meticulously calculated, planned and thus any consequences he faces in the show are his fault, not the fault of his parents.

When other characters point out Caillou’s manipulative and sometimes violent tendencies, he proceeds to act like a child, resorting to his father for protection. When other characters make fun of him for this, asking if his father will spank them, Caillou replies, “Daddy doesn’t spank anyone, that’s why I’m like this.” His childish tendencies don’t only manifest inside of his family, where he knows he can get away with it, but in public as well, where people certainly recognize it for what it is.

The Direction of “Caillou the Grownup”

In each episode, Caillou’s behavior just becomes worse and worse, and only time will tell just how far AOK is willing to push on “Caillou the Grownup.” Starting from the first episode, Caillou has transformed from a simple adult who never learned responsibility to a manipulative individual who is bent on bringing harm, embarrassment and danger to those around him. This often leads fans to wonder just how far AOK will take “Caillou the Grownup.”

As of now, “Caillou the Grownup” totals seven episodes, showcasing topics including dating, sex, quarantine, Thanksgiving, vacations and work. Caillou’s behavior drives the series to daring and unexpected heights. Much of the series’s humor derives from the fact that it sticks with the style and mannerisms found in the original, just placed in a very different context.

“Caillou the Grownup” is not the only show that AOK has parodied but it does offer insight into the life of a child with no rules. Teaching children good behavior should be handled with tact and care, and it is work worth taking seriously. Though a lack of discipline may not necessarily lead to the terrible behavior of Caillou in “Caillou the Grownup,” the act of parenting is presented as something requiring a delicate balance. As the series ramps up, only time will tell just how Caillou handles adulthood.

Summer Brotman, University of California, Los Angeles

Writer Profile

Summer Brotman

University of California, Los Angeles
English with Professional Writing Minor

Summer is a lover of books, comics, television and movies. She hopes to make her mark on the world with her own stories, whether they make it on the big screen or become your new favorite book.

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