Mr Rogers spent the better part of 3 decades entertaining children and advocating being the kind of person people don’t mutter the word “dickhead” at as you walk past. Weirdly, according to Rogers himself, the only reason he got into television is because he hated it.
As oxymoronic as it sounds to read the words “Mr Rogers” and “hate” in the same sentence, the sweater-wearing geriatric paragon of virtue openly admitted in an interview with CNN later in his career that his was immediately soured on the idea of television 8 seconds after turning one on for the first time.
According to Rogers, the first thing he ever saw on TV was ““something horrible with people throwing pies at one another”, though he never divulged exactly what show it was he watched, he did reveal that he was deeply troubled by the wasted potential of the medium. Rogers in particular felt that TV was an incredibly powerful and useful tool for educating and nurturing children and couldn’t understand why nobody was using it for that purpose. As a result, Rogers dedicated his entire life at that moment to producing the kind of television show he thought children would want to watch.
Rogers’ dedication to producing wholesome, non-shitty child entertainment was such that he quit a lucrative job at NBC because he didn’t feel that a network funded by advertisements could fully commit itself to the education of children when they were also focussed on making phat stacks of cash. After leaving NBC, Rogers struck out on his own with a simple, singular goal: Becoming the singular most loved and respected human being on Earth.
Rogers’ church, recognising both his passion and ability to beam love directly from his eyes like a Care Bear from Krypton, even went as far as requesting that Rogers continue his work with children’s television instead of becoming a preacher when was ordained as a minister because they felt that he could make a more positive impact on the world that way. In other words, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was literally endorsed by God himself.
During the production of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Rogers made a number of stipulations for the show that were upheld throughout the entirety of its entire 800 + episode run, including that he wouldn’t shy away from talking about difficult issues like death, divorce and the Gulf War (seriously) and that would similarly refuse to talk down to children, addressing them like actual people. In regards to the latter, this was often a cause of friction between Mr Rogers and his many guest stars as he would often ask them to film retakes if he didn’t think they were giving it their all, noting that children deserved television of comparable, if not higher quality than adults.
So the next time you feel sad, just remember that Mr Rogers was so dedicated to providing high-quality television for children that he once told the fucking Hulk to step up his game or he couldn’t let him appear on his show.