children s television

Steve Burns at Galaxy Con in 2023

In the wake of the docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," kids who grew up watching Nickelodeon are reeling a bit. The documentary unveiled a toxic culture of abuse and exploitation at the network, tainting 90s kids' childhood memories with disturbing behind-the-scenes details of their favorite shows.

But a beacon of light from Nickelodeon still shines in Steve from "Blue's Clues." Steve Burns may have broken children's hearts when he left the show to go to college, but the beloved host has remained a wholesome icon for millennials and Gen Zers who watched him growing up.

In fact, Steve is still bringing comfort to millions, and his latest video on TikTok is a perfect example of how. In a one-minute TikTok, he says only a handful of words, but people are finding themselves tearing up if not outright bawling by the end of it.

What he does is actually very simple, yet the effect is profound. "Hey, just checking in," he says. "Tell me, what's goin' on?" And then he just looks and listens almost entirely in silence, occasionally nodding along. And if you actually go through the exercise of sharing what's going on with you, even just in your own mind, the compassionate listening he demonstrates feels surprisingly powerful.

If you didn't watch Blue's Clues, this may have felt weird or awkward, but Steve asking questions and then pausing for kids to answer was a hallmark of the show. The kids who grew up watching it are now in the Big Adult Things stage of life, navigating relationships, careers, finances, mental health challenges and more, and it can sometimes feel like too much. So similarly to Elmo's viral check-in on X, having a familiar and compassionate listening ear opened the floodgates.

"Not me crying the instant he asked," wrote one person.

"Not me sitting in bed at almost 3 a.m. in tears because Steve from Blue's Clues shows up on my fyp asking what's going on? The one thing we have left that is pure from our childhood," wrote another.

"I just cried for over 5 minutes straight," shared another. "I just realized no one has asked me how I'm doing in such a long time. I can't stop crying."

"I couldn't even get out a word all I did was cry, lol" shared another.

Many people shared that the Nickelodeon documentary had rocked their world and found comfort in Steve being Steve.

"After the Nickelodeon documentary, Steve, all I need is Blue's Clues to save whatever is left of this childhood I once had," wrote one commenter.

"Thank you for being one of the GOOD parts of Nickelodeon, Steve," wrote another.

"Steve checking up on the grown-up kids he left behind is another level of full circle moment," shared another.

"After the Nickelodeon thing we need our Steve now more than ever," agreed another.

And some commenters actually shared the things they are going through, showing why so many people need this kind of check-in:

"Life keeps handing me lemons and I'm not sure how many more I can turn into lemonade. I'm tired, Steve."

"Too much is happening all at once Steve, and idk if I'm getting through it but it's always good to hear from you."

"I lost my mom in January and I'm pregnant with my son…I'm lonely, Steve. I just miss my mom."

"I want to get sober but it's so hard. :("

"I could use a hug, honestly."

Hopefully, Steve's video helped some people realize they really do need someone to talk to so they can seek a therapeutic channel. Thank you, Steve, for giving so many grown-ups the cathartic childhood cry they desperately needed.

In the years since Ellen DeGeneres introduced the first out character on prime-time television, openly LGBTQ characters have arrived — and thrived — on networks from ABC to SyFy to TeenNick.

And now, add the Disney Channel to the list.

Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush), a lead character on the show "Andi Mack," will come out as gay in the premiere of the show's second season.

[rebelmouse-image 19477114 dam="1" original_size="700x561" caption="The cast of "Andi Mack" at the premiere of "Tangled: Ever After." Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images." expand=1]The cast of "Andi Mack" at the premiere of "Tangled: Ever After." Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Unlike the channel's previous openly LGBTQ characters, many of whom appeared briefly or in one-off episodes, Cyrus will get his own season-long arc in which he discovers, reveals, and grows into his identity.

"'Andi Mack' is a story about 'tweens' figuring out who they are," said Disney Channel in a statement provided to Deadline. "[Executive Producer] Terri Minsky, the cast, and everyone involved in the show [take] great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity."

The move won immediate raves on social media from entertainment industry vets.

The creative team — led by "Lizzie McGuire" creator Terri Minsky — says the LGBTQ arc will reflect the show's themes of coming-of-age and self-discovery.

Cyrus is a close friend of the show's protagonist, Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), a 13-year-old girl who discovers that the woman she thought was her sister (Lilan Bowden) is actually her mother, and the woman she thought was her mother (Lauren Tom) is actually her grandmother — the event that kicked off the series.

Disney recently broke ground by including the studio's first "exclusively gay moment" in 2017's "Beauty and the Beast,"  though not without controversy.

Photo by Walt Disney Pictures.

Critics charged that recasting LeFou — a broad, comical character whose name means "the fool" — as a closeted man caught in a tragic, one-sided romance merely recycles old tropes of gay villainy and buffoonery.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Andi Mack's" creative team consulted with child development experts to ensure accuracy and offered advanced screenings to representatives of LGBTQ advocacy groups, including PFLAG, GLAAD, and Common Sense Media.

"'Andi Mack’s' creative team captures this moment of revelation with such thought, care, and authenticity; it will be a memory moment for some, and a teachable moment for many," said Jaime M. Grant, executive director of PFLAG National, in a statement.

Could this storyline open the door for even more LGBTQ representation on the channel — and across the dial?

"With more and more young people coming out as LGBTQ, 'Andi Mack' is reflecting the lives and lived experiences of so many LGBTQ youth around the country," GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

By beginning his journey this Friday, Cyrus helps advance television's journey toward reflecting a world more like our own.