Peppa Pig and its perplexing mysteries
Peppa Pig is a family friendly show, with some perplexing mysteries to it. No Prime Ministers were involved in this article.
Given the tough time that pigs are getting in the press right now, courtesy of a story that shows just how on the money Black Mirror is, we thought it was worth re-saluting a more family friendly pig: Peppa.
In the world of bacon-themed cartoons, they don't come much bigger than Peppa Pig. The show has around four million billion viewers, and is currently showing on every channel in the UK, even Discovery Science, probably.
The Peppa Pig universe contains a few elements that raise questions in the minds of the adults who watch it with their kids/are too hungover to watch anything else. As the only sane adult who watches Peppa Pig with a level of concentration normally only found by people who watch The Wire, I have decided to put my philosopher hat on and attempt to answer some of the deeper questions raised by the show. The following are my theories on why things are the way they are in Peppa's world. When my theories are not too insane, I back them up with actual facts.
1. Why does everyone live on a hill?
Peppa's house is built on top of what looks like Mount Snowdon. So is her school. So are her friends' houses. The reason all the animals on that show have such skinny legs? To get anywhere at all they have to walk or cycle up a near vertical incline. Even if you're a pig and are supposed to be fat, living in this town guarantees you have legs like pipe cleaners.
Should we blame Daddy Pig, who works as an architect and so presumably had a hand in the decision to build every house on a hill? Well actually no, we should blame the creators – Phil Davies, Neville Astley and Mark Baker. In an interview with the Financial Times, of all things, Mark Baker reveals why the show is so visually striking.
(Every frame is from a child's perspective) “...which is why Peppa's house is on its own, at the top of a hill. When a child draws their house, even if it's in a terrace, the child will usually draw it by itself.” (And the hill?) “...Well, it's just that having a huge hill like that is so funny.”
In short – Peppa Pig is deliberately designed to emulate a typical child's drawing style. This might also explain why all the characters have their noses growing out of the side of their heads.
Another possible theory is that the town is prone to flooding, and building on high ground is a good flood defence. This is demonstrated in an episode from series three (The Biggest Muddy Puddle In The World), where the town has flooded, and Peppa's hill has become a desert island.
2. Why does Miss Rabbit do all the jobs?
This question has created many an argument online (usually started by me). During the show's run, Miss Rabbit has been seen doing the following jobs – helicopter pilot, aquarium caretaker, gift shop assistant (at the aquarium), supermarket cashier, face painter (tiger faces only), nurse, dental nurse, library assistant, bus driver, ice cream seller, theme park ticket seller, train driver, recycling centre operator. There are probably a lot of jobs I've missed. I mean, the town needs a proctologist, and undertaker and a PPI claims specialist, so she probably does those too.
Is there really only one Miss Rabbit doing all these jobs, or is there a whole litter of Miss Rabbits, all making sure the town runs smoothly? Well, both are sort of true. In the episode Miss Rabbit's Day Off, Miss Rabbit breaks her ankle, and the whole town has to pitch in to take over her jobs. And in an episode from series four, Miss Rabbit is given The Queen's award for industry; for Miss Rabbit to have enough time off to actually collect her award, The Queen has to declare a national holiday. Both these episodes prove that one rabbit does many jobs.
However, Miss Rabbit is not the only Rabbit. She has a sister – 'stay at home mum' Mummy Rabbit, mother of Rebecca and Richard Rabbit. In Miss Rabbit's Day Off, Rebecca is seen asking her mother why she never does any work like Miss Rabbit. Mummy Rabbit immediately becomes all indignant and defensive, and answers with something along the lines of 'Well it isn't exactly a walk in the park looking after you, you know'.
Nevertheless, I think the moral of this story is clear – if you can find a man stupid enough to marry you, then you never have to work a day in your life. If, however, you're one of life's single losers, then you must be punished for all eternity by having to do all the jobs in the world just to keep yourself in Tesco Value carrots, you massive failure.
One last thing – Miss Rabbit is the only female who doesn't wear eyeliner. This is presumably because she never has a long enough break from all her drudgery to put any on.
3. Why are some animals still animals?
Most animals in the Peppa Pig universe are as human as you and me – they wear clothes, live in houses, and argue over what to watch on TV. But there are a few exceptions to this rule. Ducks, for example, are just ducks – they swim around on the pond, quacking and eating bread. The same goes for Tiddles, the show's tortoise, although bizarrely he behaves more like a cat than a tortoise – in one episode he gets stuck up a tree, and has to be rescued by the vet. Polly the parrot, who lives with Granny and Grandpa Pig, sits on a perch, repeating the occasional word. Other pets owned by the children include a goldfish, a stick insect, and a gecko.
So why the divide? Why do some animals get to be bipedal and have credit cards, while others have to remain as nature intended, minding their own business and pooing on the floor? I think the answer is simple – mammals get to be human, birds, fish and reptiles do not.
What is the exact function of non-mammals in Peppa Pig? One blogger for the Houston Press puts it very succinctly – 'they are slaves and food'. His post also proves that, somewhere out there, someone overthinks Peppa Pig as much as I do.
The author of this post goes on to liken Peppa Pig to Orwell's Animal Farm, positing a post-apocalyptic world where all humans have been wiped out, leaving the other mammals at the top of the food chain. All the inferior animals have now taken on the role previously filled by the mammals – they are pets and livestock. While it is not explicitly stated whether or not chickens are eaten, I think it's safe to assume they are, thanks to the existence of the Fox family. The characters on the show definitely do eat eggs, because they often have cakes and pancakes.
On a side note – my boyfriend just said “But Madame Gazelle is a bird!...” before going to have a nice lie down.
4. How does Mummy Pig wear a bikini?
In various summer episodes, as well as the Peppa Pig 'Holiday' app, Mummy Pig is seen wearing a bikini.
This would imply that she has a human rather than a pig body. In real life, pigs are born with up to fourteen boobs, which may or may not all become active depending on how many children the pig gives birth to.
This is what Mummy Pig should look like under her bikini:
The explanation for this oversight? There probably isn't one. It probably wasn't an issue the creators thought of when they designed Mummy Pig. Well, they didn't count on someone like me having too much free time on their hands, and being able to think of things like this. Ha, I showed them.
Of course, it could be argued that the reason Mummy Pig only has two boobs is because she has only given birth to two children. That would sort of make sense, and would be consistent with real world biology, but I prefer to think that Mummy Pig has just stuffed all fourteen boobs into that bikini top.
5. Why are all the animals the same size?
Emily Elephant is the same size as Rebecca Rabbit, who is the same size as Kylie Kangaroo, who is the same size as Doctor Hamster. This would not happen in real life. Therefore, I would like to expand on the Houston Press blogger's theory. Peppa Pig must live in some sort of post-apocalyptic world, where humans have been wiped out by a nuclear war. The animals, quite sensibly, decided not to get involved in this war, and have therefore survived. However, they have all been mutated by the radiation left over from the war. All the animals are now huge, which is why they are the same size as Emily Elephant. Emily is a relatively small elephant because she's still a child, but when she grows up she will be two hundred feet tall. This is the only possible explanation.
In fact, the animals' size does appear to be at least partly based on their ages – the older you are, the bigger you are. Granny and Grandpa Pig are slightly bigger than Mummy and Daddy Pig, when in reality they should have stopped growing some time ago, possibly even becoming smaller. This clearly does not extend to the non-mammals though, as using this logic, Tiddles the tortoise would probably be the size of a house by now, and would be able to crush his mammalian overlords.
6. Why do Peppa and George only have one set of grandparents?
Granny Pig and Grandpa Pig are Mummy Pig's parents, and are the only set of grandparents we ever see. I don't recall ever hearing anything about Daddy Pig's parents. There are several possible reasons for this -
- Daddy Pig's parents are dead
- Daddy Pig hates his parents
- Mummy Pig and her family do not approve of Daddy Pig's parents
- Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig are brother and sister
I highly doubt it's the last one, so I'm inclined to go with the third explanation. This is because Mummy Pig's parents are rich and scarily posh. I can imagine some big, unmentionable family drama that happened long ago, that stemmed from Daddy Pig coming from a lower social class than Mummy Pig. I can see Daddy Pig as originally being from the 'wrong side of the tracks', but thanks to hard work, he managed to make something of himself. Granny and Grandpa Pig have come to accept Daddy Pig, albeit reluctantly, although his parents are banished on account of how his mother has BNP tattoos on her neck, and his dad is a known shoplifter.
Of course, there could be another explanation. It could be the case that having more than one set of grandparents would make the universe too confusing for preschool children. Perhaps only one set of grandparents are needed to explain the concept. Maybe a lot of viewers only have one set of grandparents, and the producers didn't want to raise too many awkward questions within families. After all, the producers have tried to make the families diverse, while still remaining as faithful as possible to the standard idea of a nuclear family.
Personally, I prefer the neck tattoo theory.
7. Why are Peppa and George in the same class at school?
Peppa is four years old, and George is eighteen months old. They are both in the same class at school, along with all of Peppa's friends and all of George's friends. They have the same teacher (the inexplicably French Madame Gazelle) and the same lessons. My question is this – if George is at school aged eighteen months, then surely Peppa would have been at school when she was eighteen months old? If this was the case, then Peppa would have been learning the same things then as George is learning now. Except that Peppa is also learning the same things now as George is learning now. I have a headache. Is Peppa destined to repeat the same school year over and over again? Or has George been dropped in the deep end at school, and must have the same lessons as the four year olds? Also, why are any of them at school?
Some people might argue that it isn't a school, it's a playgroup, which is why all the kids are lumped together. But there are two answers to this. Firstly, that place is far too structured to be a playgroup. I've worked in a playgroup, and what Peppa and George go to is a school. This is demonstrated by the fact that all the kids sit there behaving and listening to the teacher. They actually learn things, instead of fighting over the sandpit and doing a wee in the corner of the room then trying to cover it up. Secondly, it is referred to as a school on several occasions, most notably whenever something out of the ordinary is taking place, such as the 'school fete' and the 'school play'.
The most likely explanation for this is that the creators wanted to introduce the viewing children to the idea of going to something like a school, and this was the simplest way to do it. They pulled the same trick in Rainbow, when Zippy, George and Bungle all started playgroup together, even though in other episodes Bungle was left to look after the others when Geoffrey went out, meaning Bungle must have been some sort of teenager. Once again, I'm putting far too much thought into this.
I hope this article has gone some way towards answering the questions I'm sure have been keeping you all awake at night. Me? I'm sick of thinking about Peppa Pig. I'm also hungry, so now I'm going to go eat some of her relatives for tea...
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