Friday, February 1, 2008

Dora and Oprah - SOUL SISTERS

This morning my boys were watching Dora. It was an episode with Diego before he possessed enough staying power to launch his own show. As I tidied the kitchen from the breakfast muddle while Dora courageously trudged through Spooky Swamp and across Crocodile River, I pondered over the power and dominance of Dora in preschool programming. I was struck with her sheer supremacy as the forerunner to the hearts and minds of inquisitive young tots throughout North America. Her influence is immeasurable. She has been copied. She has upped her game when necessary. Kids repeat her catch phrases. She has launched spin-offs. She has created movies. She has been merchandised. She reminded me of Oprah.

The similarities are truly striking – both single, minority women working hard to prove themselves in a predominately Caucasian market. Both pioneers in their industry defining and bench-marking the standard for the look-alike shows trying to compete for the leading market-share captured by these women. Here are some similarities I have chosen to highlight.

1) Both female minorities. Dora - Latin American. Oprah – African American.

2) Both set the bar for their industry creating a new standard. Dora pioneered interactive preschool programming. She has been copied for years with some success – Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Oprah has been aped by Ellen, Rosie, and Tyra. However, the taste of knock-off sets too heavily on the palate to be equally appreciated.

3) As competition becomes fierce and the market shows a shift, both change their shows to evolve with the market. Dora introduced Diego as a regular guest for his expertise in rescuing exotic animals. Oprah brought on Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz as regulars for their respective psychiatric and medical expertise. Dora started to collect powerful stars along the way for added flare. Oprah launched “Her Favorite Things” episodes. The market will shift – successful shows will shift with it.

4) On camera, both appear to care deeply for their subject matter; however, after so many recordings, for how many poor lost animals, slow choo-choo trains and helpless friends can they feel true heartfelt sympathy and compassion. Sure both have their off-screen causes – Oprah, women’s rights and African American empowerment; Dora, Latin American issues awareness and Spanish as a Second Language curriculum - but on camera, their subjects have become a profession – another feeble victim in need of rescue to acquire necessary Nielson ratings.

5) Both could not help but develop an inflated sense of power, success, and accomplishment due to their following.

6) Both have successfully launched peripheral industries. Dora – toys, stationary, clothing, DVD’s. Oprah – O magazine, Oxygen channel.

7) Both launched their sidekick experts into stardom. I do not know the behind-the-scenes conversation between Dora and Diego when they parted ways, but I image it could have followed this logic:
Diego: Dora, I am going to branch out into my own show.
Dora: Get me my lawyers and the fine print!
Diego: No need, my show will only feature me in my field of expertise. Thank you. I will never forget my roots.
Dora: Roots? ROOTS? I made you, Diego! Without Dora, nary a preschooler would have ever uttered the name “Diego.” Without Dora, you would be saving the rainforest animals with late night infomercial pledges one red-eyed-tree-frog at a time. I OWN YOU! I wish you luck, Diego, but watch yourself closely. Know this: What I touch turns to gold and what I curse withers away like the ash of yesterday’s fire. Books I endorse turn into instant Scholastic Best Sellers. My favorite backpack things become the hottest selling items on E-Bay. I CAN SINGLEHANDEDLY LAUNCH A PERSON INTO THE WHITE HOUSE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Yes, Diego, go your separate way, but watch yourself closely.

I imagine the conversations between Oprah and Dr. Phil the Oprah and Dr. Phil legal teams were similar.
Ultimately, neither Oprah nor Dora are threatened by this parting of ways. The women still hold a broader appeal for their demographic. Diego can only save animals. Dora can save her friends AND animals, produce plays, become a princess, and bring cookies to her abuela. Dr. Phil is stuck psychoanalyzing problematic relationships and obsessive-compulsive patients. Oprah can still psychoanalyze mentally imbalanced guests, yet also host celebrities, go on road trips, makeover houses, and shower her audience with gifts.

8) Both hold power over their on-screen conflicts with single catch phrases. Dora – “Swiper, no swiping.” Oprah – “We’ll be right back after this commercial break.”

Yes, these women of daytime TV are great forces to be reckoned within their industries. What Oprah accomplished for afternoon talk shows, Dora paralled for interactive preschool series everywhere. These divas of the day will be examples of empowered minority females for years to come.



  1. Wow, Angie, you are very insightful and perceptive. I agree with everything you said about Dora and Oprah, although never would have thought of it myself. I am being very serious when I tell you that you could probably send this article to a newspaper and have it is very good!!!!

  2. You are a complete DORK!!! Only you could dig so deeply into the lives of Dora and Oprah:)

    Hope all is well! See you later!

  3. Thanks for your comment on

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  4. And did you think all of this up before Dora shouted "We did it!" and high-fived boots?

  5. Lol. This is too funny. But Sweetie? You REALLY need to get out more if this is what you're thinking about!

  6. The comparisons are so obvious after reading your post - but I never thought about them! Great job!

    After the introductory session of my Beth M study - I'm soooo excited. Once I can pry my fingers off the keyboard (and once I know my kids are in dream land) I want to go work on the first lesson! Thanks for your encouragement with the study!!

    Leigh Ann

  7. I could not believe how much Oprah and Dora had in common.. Learn something new everyday!! LOL

  8. Okay, Okay, you made me gain a whole new appreciation for Dora. I'll take her off My List.

    I said it in my reply to your comment, but I want to make sure you know what I said...even if you disagree with what I say, let me know! I'm not out here to hear "Rah Rah! Meghan is great and all knowing and only speaks the truth and everyone and their mother agrees with her!" Altough that would be nice, that's not what America is all about. Speak up, sister. Let me know you disagree!

  9. WOW, This was a very insightful and poignant post. On behalf of Hispanic women every where I would like to thank you for the wonderful observation you have made of our beloved Dora. For Dora to be compared to Oprah must be an honor for her. OK, OK, I cant keep a straight face any more, its getting hard for me to type without laughing at myself. Actually, I never thought of Dora in that way, but you have a great point. I totally agree with the comment from Catharine, I bet you could get this article published. Keep up the good work. I also have to laugh as I agree with the comment from Leann.. The funnier thing is that all of us know what your talking about. We did it, we did it, lo icimos.....

  10. Wow. You are so right. This is incredible!

  11. LOL! I have three words of advice- NO MORE Nickelodeon!

    That was hilarious and strangely accurate ;) Loved it!

  12. I am not sure I would have ever thought of this one on my own but after your unbelievable comparisons I can't believe I didn't see it sooner. Both powerful women that is for sure. Now I want you to go and TURN OFF THE TV!!!!


  13. LOL -That was funny... in a good way! I've never put the two side by side, but I think you are totally correct!

  14. You could probably turn this into a doctoral thesis in your spare time!

  15. I think Dora needs her own blog

  16. Angie: In my heart, I know that some of your sense of freedom to explore this subject was fueled by Marlo Thomas and Friends...Maybe it was the "Ladies First" song. After all, it takes courage to think the way that you do.
    Love, Jane

  17. I never thought of this before! Thank you for the enlightenment!

  18. What a great post!
    If I were Oprah, I wouldn't know whether to be flattered or offended to be compared to a cartoon character - LOL!

  19. I love this! You are right on the mark. Both are dominant forces to be reckoned with and as a woman and a mom...I reckon with both daily! They both do very good demographic research.

    Thanks for linking today!

  20. HA HA HA HA HA...I'll never look at Dora the same way again! (But darned you for getting 'doo doo Dora! doo doo Dora!' stuck in my head while at work!)

  21. You must be the only person to ever equate Dora and Oprah. Great post. And we have to think of something while the kids watch this stuff, don't we?

  22. LOL :-)

    First it was Uma-Oprah


    Very insightful, clever and creative

  23. That was GREAT!! So true. But I would never carry an Oprah backpack.

  24. I totally dislike Oprah and the sheep mentality that follows her? Is that awful?

    But really, Dora is awful. It's best to watch her with the sound turned down of course. But even my boy will happily watch Dora and pretend to speak Spanish words.

    This post is funny.
    I stumble U.