Is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the greatest television show ever made?
That sounds like needless hyperbole, like a link-baiting statement designed to prompt angry arguments in the comments section. Yet a large part of me means it, and if I were to make such a list, the series would be one of a very few I’d seriously consider for the top spot. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is utterly unlike any other program in television history, from any country. It’s wildly original and often beautiful, possessing an incredible stillness that most other TV series would run screaming from. As I write this, I’m watching Fred Rogers sit at his table and stack cups, all while quietly narrating what he’s doing. It’s absolutely riveting, evoking a kind of peace that can be found in a lovely piece of classical music, or the films of Terrence Malick, or in quietly contemplating a work of visual art. In its low-rent production values and matter-of-fact delivery, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood got at something simple, yet surprisingly profound: People just want to be loved.