Home EVENTS ‘A Wonderful Day With Mabel Maclay’ A Wholesome Throwback

‘A Wonderful Day With Mabel Maclay’ A Wholesome Throwback

‘A Wonderful Day With Mabel Maclay’ A Wholesome Throwback


“A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay” — billed as “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” meets “Mary Poppins” — is a children’s show on the new children’s show app Bentky, where Mabel invites viewers into her home to inspire them to connect and create, featuring her dog Jasper who make gadgets and a host of friends where together they complete fun projects, visit interesting friends, sing songs and read books.

While “A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay” doesn’t reach the heights of children’s programs such as “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” or “Sesame Street,” it is wholesome family entertainment for parents and families who want alternatives to what’s being offered by Disney or Netflix.

The “Mabel Maclay” show is the brainchild of Katy and Ryan Chance, a Christian husband and wife who have a passion for child development and wanted shows that were good for children that they really weren’t seeing elsewhere.  

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This is what the couple said is the reason why they created the show: 

“We have three kids, and so we’re observing kids’ content and we thought we want to make something that feels the way kids’ shows used to feel. They feel different now. And so we wanted to make something that was gentle and slower paced. And Mr. Rogers was one of our favorite shows, and it’s a show we love showing their children. And so the way that he spoke to children was so specific and the way that the editing was so specific. And so our vision really began with those ideas that our own kids felt sort of hyper-stimulated after watching modern kids content. And then their behavior was really bad when we would turn it off and it’s almost like, ‘oh, this is annoying to even deal with this.’ And then you add crazy commercials and things. And so we felt like, gosh, we just want to make something that’s joyful and feels simple and gentle the way things used to feel.” 

Bentkey, the home of the “Mabel” show, is a creation of The Daily Wire, a conservative talk show and entertainment company, and home to pundits like Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh and Andrew Klavan. Recently, the platform launched an entertainment component to its company with movies like “Terror on The Prairie,” “Shut In” (which Religion Unplugged previously reviewed here) and its upcoming “The Pendragon Cycle.” 

Their co-Founder Jeremy Boreing also recently announced the launch of a separate children’s division with an app called Bentkey to give parents an alternative to streaming services like Disney+, who they considered to be inserting “woke agendas” into their storylines (particularly around issues of sexuality and race).

Despite the fact that The Daily Wire is a political company, Katy and Ryan Chase don’t see what Bentkey is offering as at all political given that it’s something both their conservative and liberal parent friends are looking for. 

“I have out of my mom friends, I would say 50% of them have one worldview or another,” Katy said. “I have a good mix. I’m proud of those numbers. But 99% of us all agree that there are certain topics that we agree we want to teach to our kids at the right age, with the language we choose, at a developmental stage that’s right for that kid. I think modern moms are really intentional about their parenting and how they introduce things and when … and so for those topics, we don’t want them coming in through the television first and then we play catch up after. We just want to hit it first.”

Ryan said he’s happy when people discover that they haven’t inserted politics into their show.  

“People will be very surprised when they watch,” he said. “And we’ve even seen some reviews where folks we’re probably looking for something like, oh, I know they’re going to try to squeeze in some politics in here. And then they go, oh, wait a minute. There’s nothing in here. There’s just timeless stuff? Oh, okay. And there’s a puppet dog. He’s kind of funny and an old car that floats.”

Neither does the couple feel like their Christian faith requires them to make art that merely expresses Jesus by name since Dr. Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian pastor, shined a light on Him without ever mentioning Jesus by name.  

“For me it’s a place of just all time gratitude that I can’t believe I’m even part of this story, that I get to wake up in creation,” he said. “I had nothing to do with making this wonderful thing we’re involved in meaning life and then look how we’re being used. I’m probably sometimes the bad example, maybe more than not, but still thankful that I’m being used at all.” 

He added: “Some of this inspiration comes from Mr. Rogers because he was an ordained minister and didn’t open the Bible and read it on Mr. Rogers. He was successful in such a big mainstream way and had such an enormous impact. But I think his light shined and I think that’s why he’s so beloved. … I also feel like Mabel doesn’t need to be a faith-based show because I think her light shines.”

This area of trying to promote positive values without being faith-based or political is a very interesting one. The question of whether Christians should make exclusively religious content – or whether there’s a place for Christians to make content that isn’t explicitly Christian – is a long and much-contested one. Some Christians argue that making content that isn’t explicitly Christian opens the door for people to take the values of Christianity while forgetting that it’s Christ that makes it possible. Others believe that making secular content allows Christ’s love to shine through more clearly to people who otherwise will be turned off or won’t watch. 

Likewise, many political types will argue that even the decision of “which stuff” to leave to parents to tell their children about at their own pace is a political decision. What’s interesting about Katy and Ryan’s project is that it’s entirely possible that while the choice of “which stuff” to leave out of the show is indeed political, it’s politics that aligns much more closely to that of most Americans compared to what the major studios are putting out now. That puts The Daily Wire in an interesting position as being an entertainment company run by religious conservatives representing the mainstream consumer better than the traditional model of non-religious liberals making the preferred entertainment for the majority of Americans. Time will tell if that works.

Katy and Ryan Chase met in the most Hollywood way possible – at an audition playing husband and wife.

“We met in Los Angeles as actors,” Katy recalled. “I went to my first audition as an actor and they were casting husband and wife teams that looked alike and we look alike. So we got cast together. Because he was really funny and great at the audition and I was just shaking in my boots, but I looked like him. So I got my first job and we washed dishes in this national commercial for a cable company or something, and then we sort of dabbled in acting for a while and then we shifted gears and started working with kids.”

Then, Ryan chimed in, “Oh yeah. So we got married, we became a real couple, and that director and casting director both have no idea that they cast a couple. They created a couple.” 

Katy Chase laughed. 

“And we have three kids. So they’ve created three humans,” she said.

Ryan smiled in response, saying, “They have no idea. God has used them mightily to create three humans.” 

Katy had the idea to start an improv group for kids in Los Angeles, which they did for 10 years before moving to Florida, where they started an improv group for kids there. They got their opportunity when an old friend named Jeremy Boreing, now co-CEO of The Daily Wire, launched the Bentkey app and was in need of content. 

“We have a great idea,” Ryan said. “And he was like, ‘well, let’s make your dream show’. And we’re like, are you sure? And he goes, ‘yeah, let’s make that dream show’. And we’re like, OK.’”

The passion the couple had for walking kids through their emotions is evident in their show. The first two episodes deal with the topics of creativity and curiosity. 

There is an undeniable old-fashioned wholesome and authentic energy to the show, which is deeply appealing. The whole thing feels like spending time at someone’s home rather than at a place desperate to entertain children. 

Like “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Mabel McClay truly feels like she intends to connect with the children she’s talking with. The lessons and advice seem thought out and true rather than contrived. The show’s vibe is slow and comforting in its routines and formulas. Children don’t appreciate being talked down to or feeling manipulated. This show does none of those things. 

That said, it does often feel like the characters and events are more contrived around lessons than I liked as a kid. Shows like “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” would have a theme for each episode, but always made it seem like the show had room to breathe to be more than about a particular topic. Shows like “Sesame Street” would use the lesson as a jumping off point for the laughs, rather than using the laughs to set up the lesson the way “Mabel” does. 

That’s not to say that “Mabel McClay” is bad because it doesn’t reach the heights of the greatest children’s shows of all time. That would be like saying a movie isn’t good because “The Godfather” is better. 

The show still manages to be a welcome throwback to a different kind of show that we need more of these days. And for families who are looking for wholesome entertainment for their children on a platform that promises to respect their values, this is a good reason to think Bentkey might be worth the investment.

“I hope kids come away with the idea that life is worth wondering about, that being curious is a wonderful thing,” Katy said. “And they have it really naturally when they’re young. And then something happens along the way where learning isn’t fun anymore and it’s foreign to go to school or something. But if we can preserve that and protect it through our show, that all these things in places and people that Mable wonders about, excites in them this joy of wondering and this belief that life is wonderful.” 

“A Wonderful Day With Mabel Maclay” is available for streaming now exclusively on the Bentkey app. 


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