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Watch Out, Bluey: Frog and Toad Is the Next Great Kids' Show for Grown-Ups

The Apple TV+ series captures the enduring appeal of Arnold Lobel's stories.
  • Frog (voiced by Nat Faxon) and Toad (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) (Photo: Apple TV+)
    Frog (voiced by Nat Faxon) and Toad (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) (Photo: Apple TV+)

    Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books have been captivating readers of all ages since the 1970s. Now, the beloved characters have come to life in a new animated series adaptation, which premiered April 28 on Apple TV+, allowing a new generation of audiences to experience the timeless tales of friendship, compassion, and adventure.

    The Frog and Toad series adapts stories across all four books, allowing you to feel like you’re stepping directly into the world that Lobel created. Each episode follows the two amphibians navigating a variety of silly challenges — whether it’s simply eating too many cookies or searching for a lost button — as well as more complex topics of loneliness, anxiety, and self-doubt. What sets the stories apart, however, is the ability to portray these subject matters without ever seeming overly preachy. While undoubtedly aimed at a younger audience, the animated series will also resonate with adults.

    Similar to the beloved Australian series Bluey, Frog and Toad holds a cross-generational appeal that transcends traditional age boundaries because it doesn’t condescend to its viewers the way other kids’ programming might. Ever the odd couple, Frog (voiced by Nat Faxon) is the buoyantly enthusiastic and practical half of the pair, while Toad (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) is more reserved and melancholic. And yet, their mismatched personalities are celebrated rather than weaponized as a source for conflict.

    The enduring appeal of Frog and Toad is maintained by its ever-growing popularity on social media. There are numerous accounts dedicated to posting quotes, stills, and snippets of Lobel’s stories across all platforms. With the Apple TV+ series, it’s only a matter of time before “Out of Context Frog and Toad” joins the conversation. Most notably, the "Frog and Toad Bot"on Twitter has garnered a following of over 200,000, just by sending out fragments of what makes the duo’s love for each other so cherished.

    Children and adults alike can see themselves reflected in the characters’ struggles and triumphs. During a recent interview with the Daily Beast, showrunner Rob Hoegee spoke about why these stories have withstood the test of time. “There’s an assumption that shows made and written for kids have to be simple in the sense that you’re almost channeling your inner five-year-old,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, these are made by adults. We are still bringing our own sensibilities and our own baggage and our own experience and our own joys and sadness — all those things get poured into the work we do.”

    Lobel, who came out to his family in 1974 four years after the first Frog and Toad book was published, has spoken about the characters being an extension of his own self. During a 1984 interview, the artist disclosed: “I cared about what the story would be for children, but at the same time I was aware that all of the things that happened in it were essentially very personal to me and had resonances in my own life.” His daughter, Adrianne Lobel (who is also an executive producer for the series), expanded upon this in a 2016 interview with the New Yorker, explaining how she believes the books were really the beginning of his coming-out. “Frog and Toad are of the same sex, and they love each other,” she said. “It was quite ahead of its time in that respect.”

    The queer subtext has been a pivotal component to Frog and Toad longevity. Though the relationship is not explicitly stated as romantic, many fans have continued to interpret it as a subtle yet powerful representation of queer intimacy and domesticity. This understated portrayal is all the more revolutionary for its quiet strength, offering a refreshing alternative to what companionship can look like within children’s media, regardless of its label as platonic or something more.

    In a world where so much media is geared towards instant gratification, Frog and Toad offers a welcome respite. There’s beauty within the simplicity, as these are tales that reward patience, thoughtfulness, and a willingness to embrace the little pleasures of life. Moving Frog and Toad to animated television programming feels like a natural progression of their story. These are characters that have had a lasting impact on kids and adults alike, and will undoubtedly influence generations to come.

    Frog and Toad is available to stream on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.

    TOPICS: Frog and Toad, Apple TV+, Kevin Michael Richardson, Nat Faxon