Recently I watched an open mic act do about 2 minutes of material on Peppa Pig.He is a student and I am a mother of small humans. Clearly children's tv is our common ground so I was all ready to cheer him on, until he made an egregious error. He did approximately 90 seconds of material on watching Peppa eat a bacon sandwich. In that 90 seconds he lost me and every other parent in the room. The reason his lazy Peppa Pig material played so badly was because the people who make that show have worked very hard to ensure that there is a consistent internal logic to the show, which is something those of us who are forced watch it multiple times every day really appreciate. So the first lesson I learnt is don't make mistakes in your material; your error may be so glaringly obvious to some people that you lose the respect of half your audience*. I know sod all about dogs but you can be damn sure I will fact-check any material pertaining to them with my friend the vet. The second lesson is, to paraphrase Piny Senior, there is no stand up comedy so bad that you cannot learn something from it. Or indeed generate your own material...
Within the world of Peppa Pig there is a clear hierarchy of animals - mammals are the highest functioning obviously - though this lovely post does have some justified comments on some of the inconsistencies that this brings up, for example, why Santa and the Queen are the only humans in this world. Generally speaking, however, the hierarchy is as follows - mammals are sentient; birds, reptiles and fish are not. Goldie the Goldfish and Polly the Parrot do seem to have some sort of higher level of cognition, but I know people who treat their dogs as sentient and will still quite happily gnaw on the bones of other animals, so I'm happy put this down to normal cognitive dissonance.
To maintain this hierarchy only vegetarian food is shown being eaten; mainly plain spaghetti, cereal, lots of fruit and vegetables and endless stacks of pancakes. I acknowledge that there is a certain tension between the foxes and the rabbits and Daddy Pig does have to warn Mr Wolf off eating his first born in one episode - I also believe that there is no lion family in Peppa Pig because they are serving life sentences for devouring Monsieur Gazelle in a blood frenzy - but there are no mealtime or snack foods that seem to directly trouble this internal logic.
In terms of the animals' diets, fish are fine to eat but red meat is not - fish are part of the lower order of creatures who can be kept as pets and eating from them isn't inconsistent with the hierarchy... but there is one food that really, really doesn't fit. There are a lot of pancakes eaten in Peppa Pig, cereal for every breakfast and also some cheese and yogurt on occasion, so my question is - where do they get the milk? Mr Bull is one of the only childless animals in town - is that because Mrs Cow refused to have kids knowing it would mean all the neighbours popping round, shaking a jug, looking for a bit of the white stuff as soon as she started lactating? This is the dark heart of Peppa Pig, this is their soylent green. Somewhere, probably just behind Potato Land, there is a vast shed of sentient cows being milked against their will.
Is this the legacy of Peppa Pig, a hidden feminist agenda? Is the whole programme is a complex metaphor, deconstructing the dehumanisation of women, their role as a commodity within their society and their silencing and erasure from the annals of recorded history? Who will speak for our silenced bovine comrades? Come Mummy Pig, come Miss Rabbit, come Mummy Dog, mount your fire engine and ride it to free your enslaved sisters.
*I am massively grateful to all the people who have contributed to the Peppa Pig wiki so i could ensure that this post is accurate. Ain't the internet grand.