For those blissfully unaware, Shopkins are small plastic anthropomorphic toy groceries, sold in sealed boxes so you don’t know which one you’ve got until you open the packaging. There are hundreds of hours of Shopkins ‘unboxing’ videos on YouTube where you, or more likely your young child, can vicariously experience the dopamine hit of shopping and gambling by watching someone else unwrap dozens of Shopkins toys. Will they get a rare one? Will they complete their collection? You’ll be on the edge of your seat! And, unlike buying them yourself, all this will cost you is a few hours and your dignity.
The Shopkins show also started off on YouTube, originally as a series of two-minute animations. I took a look at the first three of these shorts available on Netflix, because that’s all my fragile mind could cope with.
The series opens with a strawberry, apple, toaster and cookie standing around in a supermarket. I now know them as Strawberry Kiss, Apple Blossom, Toasty Pop and Kooky Cookie respectively. ‘Have you guys heard of the mysterious Shopkin?’ Apple Blossom asks out of nowhere. What is she on about? Who are these characters? It all feels very abrupt. Considering this is the introduction to the world of Shopkins there’s no context or clues as to what’s going on.
There are a couple of flashbacks where the strawberry and the apple describe their encounters with a shadowy Shopkin who helps others in times of need. From the shape of the shadow it’s obvious to any two-year-old watching that it’s Kooky Cookie.
When questioned, Kooky Cookie silently chews on her own hand with her single tooth and stares blankly. I think she may be developmentally challenged. If so I guess it’s progressive to include her, but it might just be the writers’ idea of a ‘kooky’ personality.
The secretive Shopkin is revealed to the viewer as Kooky Cookie (big shock!), and that’s your lot. Two minutes is not a lot of time to tell a story.
The mysterious doors
Cheeky Chocolate (a chocolate bar) is wondering what lies beyond the supermarket doors. Apple Blossom suggests she goes through the doors to find out. Kooky Cookie walks out of the doors and comes back with Suzie Sundae, a Shopkin from beyond the supermarket with a valley girl accent.
And that’s it – the story is literally about walking out of a door and walking back. Life in Shopkin land sure is a riot.
Welcome to Shopville
This episode is in the form of a vlog from Apple Blossom showing the viewer around Shopville, the town the Shopkins have discovered outside the mysterious doors of the previous episode. This is the Shopkins’ Promised Land, with Kooky Cookie acting as a Moses-figure by leading her people through the supermarket doors despite their fears. The cookie’s previous incarnation as the mysterious Shopkin folk hero also paints this character as a Christ-figure: she’s virtuous, misunderstood and represents hope to the other Shopkins.
After coming up with the cookie-as-messiah theory I was excited to watch more to see if it holds true throughout the series. Unfortunately nothing interesting happens in the rest of the show and the only other amusing character is a womanising baguette called Slick Breadstick.
This programme is just so dreadfully uneventful. There are far better shows to watch than one where the main conflict comes from deciding whether or not to walk through a supermarket door. Honestly, I’d rather watch the unboxing videos.