This Kids Show About American Folk Heroes is Gonna Be Great

A pre-pitch conversation.

“So tell me more about this Paul Bunyan character. Why’s he a hero?”

“Ok, I mean, Paul Bunyan is a classic hero of American folklore. You don’t know this? He traveled around with a big blue ox named Babe, and he could chop down trees faster than anyone else.”

“Chop down trees.”

“Yes.”

“This guy’s heroic ability is deforestation?”

“Uh. Well, yeah, pretty much.”

“Ok. So what’s his story arc? He’s out there turbo-logging the virgin forests of North America and then what?”

“Well, he starts out clearing land for his hometown to expand, then for farmland, and he keeps going out West from there. Like he clears all the trees off of North and South Dakota, digs the Mississippi to send logs South, and basically becomes the Ultimate Lumberjack.

But then he gets beaten in a competition by a steam-powered saw contraption and he retires from logging, never to be seen again.”

“Ok wait. The story is that Mr. Mega Logger is out there fueling America’s westward expansion by clear-cutting forests until he loses out to a machine that can destroy the environment even faster? And then he quits?”

“Um, yeah, that’s the gist of it. Those are common themes in our folklore. Like John Henry raced against a steam-powered rock drilling machine to see who could clear out the most rock for a train tunnel. He won but he died from the exertion.”

“He DIED?”

“Yeah. Like he won the race but then he died from the stress, with his hammer still in his hand. He’s…another character we wanted to have in the show.”

“This guy worked himself to death trying to compete for his job against the power of industrial mechanization deployed by capitalist rail barons?”

“Well when you put it like that it doesn’t sound super inspiring, does it? But, ya know, maybe that’s why he was a hero. Cause he was fighting against the Man?”

“Sure. Kill yourself fighting to prove your worth as a human in the soulless grind of industrialization. Great. You got any more folk heroes you want to have in this inspirational cartoon for children?”

“Um, well, we had Pecos Bill on the list but we think he might be too much of a serial killer.”

“What?”

“I mean, he was kind of like an über cowboy out in Texas. Lassoing tornados and stuff. But you know how Old West cowboys are. They shoot people sometimes. Like his horse was named Widow-Maker.”

“Ok, so this guy was out roping the weather and shooting people in Texas. I’m guessing he was mostly shooting folks like those pesky Native Americans who wanted to keep their land?”

“Uh, yeah. I mean, sometimes he shot other cowboys too. And Mexicans.”

“Hard pass. Anyone else?”

“Last one on the list is Alfred Bulltop Stormalong. You’ll like him. He’s a lesser-known character, and he was out on the East Coast and the ocean, so a lot less manifest destiny, murder, oppression, and unchecked resource extraction involved with this one.”

“Ok. That’s nice.”

“He does die after racing a steamboat across the ocean though.”

“Are you for real? Guess this show is just gonna be a warning to children about the threat of technological progress.”

“Haha, yeah. It’s a good modern message. Like, when the AI comes for your job, don’t try to fight it! You’ll die!”

“Haha. Yeah, just accept that you aren’t really necessary. Our machines can destroy the earth without your help.”

“Man, this is gonna be a great show. I think Disney will bite on this for sure.”