• Laura Orr

Will the Masha Fans Please Stand Up?

Updated: Aug 10


Premise

From Wikipedia: “Masha and the Bear is loosely based on an oral folk story of the same name. The series focuses on a little girl named Masha and a paternal bear who keeps her from disaster. Masha lives in the forest with her dog, goat and pig and everyday Masha forces the animals to play with her, causing them to be afraid of her. The bear tries to get rid of Masha when he catches her making a mess in his home but is unsuccessful, and he learns that Masha is very resourceful, smart, and mischievious. Sometimes that causes her to get into a lot of "funny"...well I'm doing the quotes...situations. This was originally recorded in Russian, and was adapted for television for American audiences.”

If Laura and Kara could sum it up: young, parentless, child terrorizes woodland creatures for laughs.


Facts about the show

Masha and the Bear became one of just 20 videos that managed to surpass 1 billion views on YouTube by early 2016. It has earned a spot in the Guinness World Records as the most viewed animated video on YouTube. In 2015, Animation Magazine recognized the Russian cartoon on their list of TV shows destined to be classics. This show has been dubbed in 35 languages.


Is it fluffy or educational

Some might argue that it’s educational, but we think it’s fluffy like a porcupine.


Who is the audience?

Children 8 years old or younger.


What will kids like about it?

It’s a slapstick show, which is amusing for most kids.


Will parents like it?

We say no, the internet says yes. We have yet to meet a parent who enjoys this show, however.


The good

Masha can show some caring behavior, she is tenacious, and she's a problem-solver. There were a couple episodes where she noticed bear was having a problem and she tried to help him.

It's very cute animation. It's fun. It's not too overwhelming. The concepts are very simple.

There are funny parts, but usually, it's when Masha is not in the picture. Some of the secondary characters provide a lot of comedy. For example, there are two wolves who live in an abandoned ambulance. They're hungry all the time, and they do funny things to try to get food, and they often fail. The things that they do are usually charming and amusing for audiences of all ages.


The problematic

Masha frequently hurts and harasses animals on this show, making her a bad example for how to treat other living things. Animals are seen hiding from her in the opening scene of the very first season, letting us know that this girl is a terror. She continually tortures bear as a main premise of the show, which gives off the message that hurting/pestering animals (or humans) is funny.

Given the parental nature of Bear, and the way he is treated on the show, it also can give off the message that it’s okay to disrespect your parents and be ungrateful for all of the things that they do for you. Masha sticks her tongue out. She clings her silverware on the table while chanting "feed me". If Bear tries to get her to do activities, she doesn't like she yells "boring" at him. And so, the dynamic there, where she is treating him this way, will inspire children to do the same thing. Laura thinks that the problem with this show being as effective as it is, is the decision to have Masha be human and Bear be a bear. Because if Masha were a little baby bear, this might seem a little bit cutesier and fun. But, because Masha's a little girl, kids are going to feel more aligned with that. And they might feel more inspired to behave this way. And if if bear was a human, this would be way more problematic. People would be like, "wow, this little girl is treating her father terribly", but because he's a bear, I think people are more inclined to welcome this story in their home.

Other characteristics that we found in Masha is that she is a bully, mean to animals, disrespectful to bear, fully lacking consequences, destructive, inconsiderate of others needs, won't respect people things or space, and disruptive.

Laura cites an article published in the Journal of Developmental Science, where scientists conducted a study among 100 kids to assess sharing behavior after reading certain types of books. They divided the children into three groups. One group, they read to them, a book where an animal learn to share. And another group, they read to them a book where a human learned to share, and the third group, they read them a book about planting seeds. After that, they found that the kids who read a book about humans learning to share showed more sharing behavior afterwards than the kids in the other two groups. This is saying that if you are trying to influence a child, or if you're trying to teach a child to behave in a more pro-social way, your best bet is to use a child protagonist.

in August 2017 students at the Faculty of psychology at Moscow State University included Masha and the Bear in the list of animations that should not be shown to children.


Final Verdict

You aren't going to find Masha fans over here, people. What you are going to find, is two mamas who agree that this show is not good for kids, nor is it entertaining.


Wheels-off moments

Laura notices a timer in Kara’s bathroom, which sparks a conversation about the use of timers during certain activities. It’s actually quite a useful endeavor if you have kids! For example, they can be used to time showers, to elicit sharing, maybe to even have a parent break from your responsibilities!

The hosts also talk about the shows they are watching. Kara talks about the show Manifest and how it’s abrupt end sparked the online community to sign a petition to bring it back.Laura is watching a Netflix docuseries called The Movies that Made Us and another Netflix dating show called Sexy Beasts. Both are fascinating for different reasons, but we will leave you with a stunning visual from Sexy Beasts.




Laura and Kara read a letter from Emma, a Texas mom who’s son is peeing everywhere! Emma’s husband brushes it off, so Emma is left cleaning up the mess and struggling to redirect her son’s behavior. Kara can definitely relate and shares a story about her son peeing in front of a row of grandparents at a child’s birthday party. Can all parents of boys relate? We think so. Laura suggests having a come to Jesus conversation with Emma’s husband about how things are going to be if he doesn’t get on the same page. And if he does finally agree to help manage the behavior, Laura recommends a reward system with strict rules about using the bathroom in the toilet only. Laura recognizes that this might seem strict, but insists that sometimes, we have to be strict at first before we can teach exceptions. Kara, for example, likes to hike with her son, so she has made an exception for using the restroom outside when on hikes. When you gotta go, you gotta go!


Do you agree with what the ladies had to say during this episode? Leave a comment!



Resources mentioned on the show

The Untold Truth Of Masha And The Bear (thelist.com)

Do storybooks with anthropomorphized animal characters promote prosocial behaviors in young children? - Larsen - 2018 - Developmental Science - Wiley Online Library

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