PBS KIDS has ordered Carl the Collector, its first show featuring a lead character on the autism spectrum, from Fuzzytown Pictures and Spiffy Pictures.
Created by best-selling illustrator and author Zachariah OHora (My Cousin Momo!), the new show follows the everyday adventures of Carl, an autistic raccoon who loves collecting things. His vast collection has something for every occasion and comes in handy for solving problems around the neighborhood.
Though Carl has a lot of energy and is very logical, he often struggles with anxiety in new situations and has trouble when things do not go according to plan. His friend group includes both neurotypical and neurodivergent characters, each with different traits, behaviors, learning preferences and challenges. With Carl, they come to understand that there is no right or wrong way to be themselves.
The production team features neurodiverse and neurotypical writers, advisers and voice talent. Advisers include Dr. Geraldine Oades-Sese, Ph.D, a licensed psychologist, children’s book author and adjunct associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Dr. Stephen Shore, professor at Adelphi University and adjunct professor at New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; and Deborah Farmer Kris, M.A., educator, author, parenting columnist and consultant for PBS KIDS for Parents.
Carl the Collector is slated to premiere in fall 2024 on PBS KIDS.
“Carl the Collector values inclusion and empathy while modeling relationship-building and social skill development, wrapped up in humor, heart and incredible visual design,” said Sara DeWitt, senior VP and general manager at PBS KIDS. “We are excited for children to get to know Carl and his group of friends, who believe that the best experiences occur when we honor the things that make each of us unique.”
“My hope for Carl and his diverse group of Fuzzytown friends is that they will inspire neurodiverse and neurotypical kids alike to foster a world in which neurodiversity is not only recognized as a benefit to society but is celebrated as exemplifying the full spectrum of what it means to be human,” OHora said.
Caroline Bandolik, supervising producer and VP of production for Spiffy Pictures, commented, “In today’s world, inclusivity and representation in programming is more important than ever, especially for the youngest of viewers. We instantly fell in love with this beautiful Fuzzytown world Zachariah created, filled with engaging and relatable characters and funny, heartfelt stories.”
“As an autistic person, I continue to be amazed at the level of detail and effort the team expends to assure that Carl and Lotta are authentic to the autistic experience,” said adviser Shore. “In addition to being an interesting series, Carl the Collector will become a great tool for both autistic and non-autistic people to gain insight on autism. Although designed for young kids, I plan on using relevant excerpts to supplement my university teaching and presentations around the world.”
“It is about time for a children’s show like Carl the Collector, which embraces the diversity of children’s experiences and showcases an inclusive and relatable world,” added adviser Oades-Sese. “The show doesn’t shy away from having its main characters experience common mental health challenges such as anxiety, fear, sadness and the need for acceptance and belonging. Carl and his Fuzzytown friends take viewers on fun and humorous adventures that will help them understand and empathize with the characters and ultimately extend that understanding and compassion for others.”