I am willing to admit that I got Disney+ solely to watch the Mandalorian, and have something to be excited about at work when I gushed with co-workers about it. But I quickly realized (a week after the season one finale) that I needed to find some other things to make Disney+ worth it if I was going to pay a subscription fee every month.
Well, it certainly wasn't hard, thanks to Disney's incredible hunger for more IPs, more money, and more original content to put on their streaming service. I've been enjoying lots of shows and specials on Disney+, and the most recent one has been Kiff!
Kiff is about a high-achieving, determined young squirrel (the namesake of the show) and her daily life and adventures in Table Town with her friends and family. There's fifteen episodes, and just one season to start, but hopefully there could be more if it proves popular enough. My cousin was the first one interested in it, and by episode three we were both hooked. It's a low stakes show, just fluff and fun, which is honestly right up my alley right about now.
In particular though, I want to talk about episodes seven and eight . . . two episodes that kind of hit me a little harder than I was anticipating! The thing about each episode is that there's two little stories packed into about 20 minutes. So we're gonna start with episode seven- where Kiff and her best friend Barry learn about the joy of living thanks to a little baby bunny, and the senior citizens of Table Town.
Each episode consists of two stories that fill up around 20 minutes, and the seventh episode comes out of nowhere with this emotional one-two punch, the first of which centers around Barry's baby brother Kristophe. Kristophe has this robot toy named Farley that he absolutely adores, and during a very unfortunate accident, Kiff manages to make the comfort item unacceptably filthy. Desperate to avoid the wrath of the deceptively adorable baby bunny, Kiff offers to "imitate" Farley while Barry takes the real one for a real fast cleaning. Look, yeah there's hijinks and laughs involved in both Kiff's unrelenting commitment to the bit (some creative license aside) and Barry's mad dash to find any way to clean the toy . . . but the real treasure here comes in the unexpected lesson Kiff learns from Kristophe.
Kristophe might be a baby, and Farley might be an inanimate object but . . . Kristophe is a wonderfully complex person who shares an incredible bond with something, a bond that many would be lucky to replicate with another person in their life. When Kiff starts tearing up at the end of her day, since Barry does eventually return with his mission accomplished, she makes sure to (while still imitating the toy) let Kristophe know that he's an incredibly special person and a joy to be with.
I-I guess this episode kind of hit because it's always been kind of extraordinary to me how kids are these little people who are learning and growing, and figuring out how they interpret the world, right? And sometimes people respect that, but sometimes people don't and it's just mind boggling to me that you could look at this little exploring human being and think that their only purpose is to serve as a decoration, for lack of a better term. Kids are so funny! They're so eager to learn and be a part of this world, and this episode was a really cute little story highlighting that.
Now the second story in episode seven is called "Two For One Hot Dogs." I don't even know how to explain the leap of logic, but Kiff and Barry are enticed to try a two for one hot dog deal that's advertised as "It Don't Get Better Than This." After enjoying the delicious park dogs, suddenly nothing about their day seemed as glorious as those two hot dogs. They begin to fear that their best days are behind them, worried that perhaps the hot dogs ruined their perception of their lives and the world around them, and that nothing ever would be better than those hot dogs for sale!
As these two tend to do, they get dramatic and, with the full belief that they're best days are gone, they check themselves in to a senior home. Shhh-shhh don't question how they were able to!! It ruins the vibe . . . well, long story short they get even more humdrum about being there, feeling exceptionally sorry for themselves that they're so young and have so little left to look forward to except decades of remembering the scant few "golden years" they've left behind. Listening to brassy jazz and getting ready for bed at 3:05 . . .
Just when we (I) think the episode is going to muddle through some lame attempt at closure for the ending, they kind of twist things on its head and end up surprising me! Kiff and Barry learn that the senior citizens have these wild and exciting parties! There's music, and dancing, and exciting games, water balloons and endless ice cream- hey, there's even the kid from the hot dog billboard who's now grown and has evolved to hamburgers now!
"It doesn't get any better than this!" he assures them, and it's then that Barry and Kiff realize that accepting a colorless and unfun life is no one's fate, it's a choice and one that you don't have to make if you've got the will and energy to make everyday a fantastic one. Because the best time is happening all the time!
Episode 8 might just be my favorite for its first story- Halfway There Day! A story so charming that my cousin and I will be celebrating it on its given day. July 2nd is Halfway Day, the day where we're officially halfway through the year! On that day you are supposedly meant to give only 50% effort, and encapsulate a completely relaxed vibe. As a matter of fact, if you are found having put in 100% effort, you actually get ostracized (which is, kind of weird but whatever it's a kid's episode). Kiff is . . . absolutely unable to give half effort in any aspect of her life, so this becomes a paradoxical problem of putting in too much effort to appear to have given no effort. Kiff heeds a warning tale from her mother of Beverly, the woman who tried too hard and got kicked out of the dinner crawl.
The same woman who Kiff meets in a tizzy of trying to not try, and who she inadvertently insults by using her name as a verb- "I almost pulled a Beverly! You know, the woman who tried too hard?" Beverly, insulted and vengeful, sabotages Kiff's admittedly solid attempt at half-trying, and nearly gets the whole family kicked out of the dinner crawl, and incites the whole neighborhood with her attempt at sabotage!
Until . . . gasp . . . Centaur Claws!!!
Centuar Claws, the centuar with a miagcal trash can, appears and reminds them all of the true meaning of Halfway There Day! Remember that weird feeling you got earlier, about learning that doing half effort was mandatory or else you faced social pariahdom? Well you were right! Because Centaur Claws gently chides the crew that the day was always about not feeling pressured to go 100%, not to only give 50%. The whole point is to accept how people are, and to not feel compelled to force more effort than you truly want. And that's such a great message right now when we're facing this crunch of pressure and trouble from seemingly every side! Don't feel pressured to give more of yourself than you can safely, healthily give every single day . . . And stop pressuring people to do what you want them to do! Let them do as they feel, do what makes them comfortable, and learn to accept that people are different from you! That last part especially.
I mean, yeah, other shows tend to do this- especially kids shows that like to teach younger audiences positive messaging but . . . Kiff's way of presenting these ideas were really cute, and just got to me a little more than I was expecting. Which is a sparkling credit to the writers that made this . . . So what's the lesson here kiddies???
Support the Writers Strike! Send a writer a cup of coffee, retweet their posts, give them little encouragements! People like them are making awesome, adorable shows like this all the time! Let the studios know that you want to see people get paid a decent wage because when art is alive, we're all happy!! And I said ALIVE. NOT AI.
Well, hanks for reading everyone. I hope I've enticed you all to go watch Kiff! She's cute and smart and determined and everything a little squirrel girl should be . . . and mark your calendars for Halfway There Day!