We don’t watch Paw Patrol in my house. I tell my wife and daughters that it’s because I find it annoying, or see nothing of value in it, or whatever. But the truth is, it terrifies me. To watch an episode is to be trapped in a world where something has gone horribly wrong with no clue as to what or why. Here are a few theories as to what may have happened.
1- Scientific Experimentation Gone Wrong
The talking dogs are a dead giveaway. Clearly, something has happened to disturb the natural order of things. Some mutation has given Man’s Best Friend the power not only of speech, but of complex reasoning. It’s obvious that this was a deliberate act, a contagion released into the environment by some well-meaning, but deeply misguided scientist. The order of beings it effects are just too convenient. Dogs and Cats but not Birds or Fish. Someone with a brilliant mind and an attachment to pets so deep that they were compelled to elevate those creatures to become man’s intellectual equal, regardless of the cost.
And truly, the costs were terrible. It was not only the animals’ minds that were effected. Many humans, once proud, upstanding members of society, have been reduced to drooling imbeciles by the contagion. Capt’n Turbot, once an esteemed marine biologist, is reduced to relying on a preteen boy and his pets for survival. Almost every adult we meet in the show is like this. Helpless, adrift. Unable to survive, let alone govern or breed, on their own, they must turn to their pets. Once their playthings, these creatures have become their only chance of living through the day.
Prediction: If this theory is true, we should soon start to see the infrastructure of Adventure Bay start to deteriorate, as the mentally impoverished denizens are unable to maintain or improve it. Within a few years, nature will have taken back the town, leaving Mayor Goodway and her constituents living on the beach, surviving only on what scraps of food Chase deigns to throw them.
2- Conservative Propaganda
Of course, there is another explanation for the idiocy of the human characters. Perhaps it is a deliberate ploy by the writers of the show to forward their ideology. “But surely,” you naively insist “PAW Patrol’s only ideology is that being kind & helpful is good.” Not so, simple dad! Consider the human characters we spend time with in PAW Patrol. Two mayors (Mayor Goodway and Mayor Humdinger), a marine biologist (Cap’n Turbot) and an immigrant photographer (Francois). These professions are not chosen at random. They represent what the right refers to as “the Liberal Elite”, scientists, artists, career politicians. Francois, as a photographer, stands in for both indolent artists and the incompetant media. (It’s also no coincidence he’s French: Liberalism began during the Englightenment, a movement partly started by French intellectuals and artists [including Francois Quesnay])*. In almost every episode of Paw Patrol, it is one of these elites who cause problems, either by their incompetance or, in the case of Mayor Humdinger, their self-interest.
And who is opposing them? The PAW Patrol, an organization completely independent from Goodway’s incompetent administration. (An administration that, in one episode, spends a good deal of time and money on a solid gold statue of the Mayor’s ancestor.) In the world of PAW Patrol, most of the services normally run by local government (police, fire & rescue, trash pick-up, etc), are now run by what appears to be a single, privately owned company. And that company is run by a child. And staffed by dogs. Liberals would have you believe that such a move would result in disaster. But The PAW Patrol is an efficient, successful team. They always save the day. The message is clear: Emergency services would be run more effectively by a child and 6 dogs than by local government.
Prediction: If this theory is true, expect to see an episode in the near future in which the pups have to rescue a coal miner from the dangers of excessive health and safety regulations.
3- Ryder’s Dissociative Episode
It’s not likely, but there is a small chance that I’m reading too much into the show. Maybe all the random stuff in there really is just random, the product of a childish mind just trying to make sense of the world.
Before the start of the show, a ten-year-old Canadian boy undergoes some trauma, possibly connected to the loss of his parents. Unable to cope with a world in which the adults he trusted—the adults, whose job it was to keep him safe—were unable to stop this happening to him, Ryder retreated into a fantasy world of his own construction. Here, he is safe in a literal tower of steel and glass (note it’s design: very similar to Toronto’s CN tower, perhaps somewhere he visited with his parents). He surrounds himself with his beloved pets, the only creatures who would never desert him. He places so much trust in them that he gives them the task of keeping him safe, replacing the human emergency services that let him down with the PAW Patrol. In this world, he can solve any problem, deal with any emergency. Nothing can hurt him. As time goes on, Ryder becomes more and more invested in this perfect world and more disconnected from reality. First introducing the mer-pups, then the sunken city of Atlantis, then the robo-pup, finally leaving any connection with the real world behind as he and the pups board the air patroller and take off into the depths of Ryder’s mind.
Prediction: If this theory is true, there would be absolutely no way to tell. Ryder would solve every problem, the pups would always save the day, just as happens in the show every. single. episode.
*Before you @-me, I’m aware that this sense of Liberalism, as a political system, is different from the way it is used in the phrase “Liberal Elite”, where it refers to left-of-center politics within said political system.