An intellectual review of “Thomas & Friends”
At first glance, “Thomas & Friends” is nothing but a joyful children’s television show: filled with plot lines that teach good morals and funny, relatable characters like the show’s namesake, Thomas. However, upon further inspection, there is something rooted deep within Thomas the Tank Engine’s core message, something so obvious! The message is this: the proletariat must rise up against the oppressive bourgeois and seize the means of production.
Karl Marx would have been proud to see the United Kingdom’s television program, rife with references to how oppressive the capitalist machine can be. Characters like Gordon the Big Engine and Henry the Green Engine portray tales of terror, being overworked by their greedy boss, The Fat Controller.
Even the name “The Fat Controller,” is condemning of the capitalist system. The proprietor and employer of the trains bares resemblance to the term “Fat Cat,” a term used to describe those who take advantage of the capitalist system and live easily from the hard work of others.
The trains represent the working class, slaving away all day delivering goods and providing services, while The Fat Controller profits from their toil. The Fat Controller also relies on his workers to solve their problems, like in the episode “Thomas Saves The Day,” where Thomas the Tank Engine is relied upon to carry out the responsibilities of his co-workers when they are being repaired in the shop. Thomas experiences anxiety due to this decision, and The Fat Controller simply tells him to slow down on his journey.
In another episode, entitled “The Sad Story of Henry,” the communist themes of “Thomas & Friends” are even clearer. In this episode, Henry refuses to work during the rain. Eventually, The Fat Controller forces people to rip Henry out of his home, all the while citing doctor’s orders that he himself cannot help pull Henry out. Henry stays put in his house, and The Fat Controller punishes Henry for his insubordination by building a brick wall around him and having his rails removed.
Henry is left in his tunnel, wondering if he will ever be able to pull trains again. There is no happy ending in this episode; there is no cheerful message. The message of this episode is simply that if you disobey your boss, you will be punished to a lifetime of depression and sadness. If this doesn’t scream “THE WORKING CLASS ARE OPPRESSED,” I don’t know what does.
These are just a select few from a plethora of examples, but are proof enough that the hit children’s TV show “Thomas & Friends” is a scathing social commentary on the experiences of the working class in a capitalist system, and instills values that will lead to a communist revolution any day now.