“I like you just the way you are”
Is it too good to be true? When it comes to Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”, the answer is no … he was good and true. Fred Rogers hosted the children’s TV show on PBS for more than 30 years, starting in 1968. This terrific (and surprisingly emotional) film provides the background of the show, and more importantly, profiles a wonderful man.
Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister and, in the early days of television, recognized that violent cartoons were not appropriate programming for the formative childhood years. Even in the early years, he was an outlier with sincerity and wholesomeness in entertainment. He never shied away from tough topics – not even death – whether it was the assassination of Robert Kennedy or a dead fish in the aquarium on set. He spoke directly to children in a voice and language they understood.
We learn that the puppet Daniel the Tiger most resembled the personality of the host himself … a quiet, patient, compassionate being who cared about others. There are naysayers who say he is responsible for generations of entitled kids who grew into entitled adults, but the film addresses this by showing Roger’s commencement address where he clearly explains the “special” label. His final show was in 2000 and he died in 2003. His legacy is simple yet powerful. We can each do better. We can each be better. We can each be better neighbors.
This film does more than just warm your heart, it reminds you of the kind and loving being that you are born to be. But life happens. And it shows a lot of the struggles Fred himself had. It’s just beautiful. Go see it.