Loved by children and celebrated by parents wanting to shut them up, Peppa Pig has become a modern cultural phenomenon.
But while the pink cartoon character, along with the series she stars in have reached celebrity icon status, she’s also been dragged through the mud by her share of critics.
Already blamed for dad-shaming and spreading fake news about dangerous spiders, the kids entertainment juggernaut has attracted the ire of another group: Doctors.
According to an article published in reputable resource the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Peppa Pig is giving humble general practitioners a bad name by encouraging “unrealistic expectations”.
In the article published this week, doctor Catherine Bell examined whether the cartoon’s jolly Dr Brown Bear was responsible for people filling up waiting rooms and demanding house calls over minor ailments.
“Dr Brown Bear ... appears to provide his patients with an excellent service — prompt and direct telephone access, continuity of care, extended hours, and a low threshold for home visits,” Dr Bell wrote in the review.
“But could this depiction of general practice be contributing to unrealistic expectations of primary care?” she asked.
Bell cited examples of Dr Brown Bear making home visits to treat a rash and a respiratory infection, and of him catching a cough after attending a playgroup.
She argued the character could encourage people to expect home visits for minor conditions, appeared to be administering antibiotics in an era of rising antibiotic resistance, and that his workload has him showing signs of “burnout”.
“I hypothesise that exposure to Peppa Pig and its portrayal of general practice raises patient expectation and encourages inappropriate use of primary care services,” Dr Bell said.
“Dr Brown Bear was approached for his perspective on the cases discussed; however, he is unable to comment pending the outcome of a fitness to practise investigation,” she concluded.
The article was published in the lighthearted Christmas edition of the usually solemn journal.
The BMJ traditionally carries jokey pseudoscientific articles in its Christmas special.
The British-made preschool cartoon is broadcast in more than 180 countries, and centres around a young pig, Peppa, her family (brother George, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig), and various animal friends.
The cartoon pig has previously come under fire for not wearing a seat belt or a bike helmet.