Even millennials unaware of the book series have probably seen an episode or two of the Magic School Bus cartoon, in which kids embark on impossible field trips to outer space and the age of dinosaurs with their kooky, freewheeling teacher, Ms. Frizzle. Voiced by screen legend Lily Tomlin when the actress was in her 50s, Frizzle was undoubtedly middle-aged but effervescent and funky enough to make you forget it. Like all your favorite real-life teachers, she retained a childlike wonder that made for an ideal connection with her class. And she had a way of making dorky stuff seem cool, which is basically the entire point of the “edutainment” franchise.
But Netflix is rebooting the show, and wouldn’t you know it: Kate McKinnon, age 33, is now in the driver’s seat — as Ms. Frizzle’s much younger sister. McKinnon’s Frizzle also appears to be a weirdly disappointing downgrade in all respects: More traditional clothes, well-kept hair(!), and a kinda flat intonation. Overall, she’s just… hot.
Whose Ms. Frizzle is this? Seriously, someone needs to come get her. Children shouldn’t be horny for their teachers until, like, at least 10th grade; The way this update looks, Carlos is gonna stop making bad puns and start trying to find Frizzle on OkCupid. Again, most of the problem here could have been avoided with a hairstyle:
Fine, fine, the new Ms. Frizzle looks like if Amy Adams did Teach For America instead of American Hustle. I’m a grown man; I can take it. I can accept that someone is already hard at work animating her unlicensed pornographic adventures. It’s really the up-and-coming generation I worry about. They’ll be bombarded by more sexual imagery before puberty than most of us have absorbed in a lifetime — is it too much to ask that they get a short reprieve when watching wholesome after-school TV on their tablet?
Hot Ms. Frizzle is such a problem that we barely even have time to mention how Lin-Manuel Miranda butchered the classic theme song. It’s like finding out that Captain Planet is alt-right, or that Pinky and the Brain once killed a gerbil to prove they could get away with it. I’m inclined to blame the cheap, charmless, Flash-like aesthetic of the art — a far cry from the elastic character design of the ’90s series — yet we cannot discount the notion that this is part of a concerted attack on millennial nostalgia.
Anyway, it’s too late to do anything about it. We are living in the era of Trump, of man-made climate disaster, and of distractingly, blandly attractive Ms. Frizzle. Someday soon, your 10-year-old will have a pinup poster of her wearing a sleeveless Forever 21 sweater above their bed. Of all the lessons they learn, the most lasting will be about the importance of conventional good looks. God help us all — especially our randy kids.