Netflix Instant: Cartoons of the 90s

I will be perfectly honest: I love Netflix Instant. Objectively, the Instant Queue is the entity I’ve spent the most time with in the last year or so. I love it, and for the most part I think it loves me back. Once, in the midst of my Worst Day Ever, I discovered that there were suddenly five new seasons of Say Yes to the Dress available to watch instantly. How many friends do you have that have rented you five seasons of your favorite TV show to hate-watch simply because you were having a bad day? That’s what I thought. Don’t judge our love!

My favorite thing about the Instant Queue is the plethora of children’s television from my childhood. Maybe it’s all the very special lessons about life, or the fact that I know nothing bad is going to happen, or they just remind me of all the Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls I ate religiously after school before I knew about things like the ratio of calories to nutritive content, but there’s nothing better than cartoons.

My recommendations:

Rocko’s Modern Life

When I was watching this show on the couch after school, its only relevance to my life was that it had a funny dog who fell in love with a mop and the stars were a wallaby and a cow. Re-watching it now? Rocko’s life is my life. The squalor, the only vague sense of purpose, the meaningful relationship with a television, the difficulty of separating one’s pets from the inanimate objects they inexplicably want to romance–or in the case of my roommate’s cat and my angora shrug romance is more like drag back and forth on the top shelf of my closet pretending to be a leopard in a tree–these struggles are my struggles.

Angry Beavers

The writers working at Nickelodeon in the 90s were clearly tapping into presumably their own very real experiences with living on their own and the trappings of being a young adult. Why they decided to market these themes to the 7-12 group is anybody’s guess, but in my opinion it worked out pretty well. Similar to Rocko, the titular beavers–one of whom is voiced by the same guy as Salem from Sabrina if you want to get really 90s about it–deal with the difficulties of independence: staying up late, having a roommate, feeding yourself, and some mad scientists and park rangers. A couple of years ago my brother and I rediscovered this show and, without even thinking about it, stayed up all night watching a marathon because it spoke to our souls. Disco, sibling rivalry, wacky adventures. Whose soul isn’t spoken to by such important topics?

Hey Arnold!

This one is definitely based more solidly in the childhood experience, and that makes it more uncomfortable to watch sometimes. However, the stuff that makes it cringe-worthy is the stuff that makes it a truly great show. I have a hard time believing that any woman who ever had to work through the shit that comes from being a smart, independent girl hasn’t had at least one Helga Patacki moment. Watch for the painfully real moments, the excellently written backdrop of the city and all its attendant characters, and Arnold’s awesome bedroom.

Not technically a cartoon, but definitely of honorable mention is Fraggle Rock, which as all Muppet-related things do, has its own important place in my heart.  Now, if only they’d make Muppet Babies available my life would be complete.

What are your favorite cartoons of the past?

Image Credit from aaipodpics on Flickr

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(e)Kelsium

Kelsium lives in Southern California with her partner and collection of almost (almost!) kill-proof plants. She enjoys the beaches, but finds the lack of acceptable bagels distressing. She considers herself an expert in red lipstick and internet rage.

14 thoughts on “Netflix Instant: Cartoons of the 90s”

  1. Netflix Instant is a pretty good alternative to cable service. Man, I love that stuff. I just whizzed through Pawn Stars (what can I say, antiques are awesome), Rocko, IT Crowd, Ren and Stimpy. So.much.awesome.

    In recent years, there’s only been a handful of really good cartoons, and they don’t last long. Cartoon Network was insane to let Billy and Mandy fall to the wayside.

  2. Netflix Watch Instantly is so, so addictive!

    At first, we had the occaisional love affair – getting the S-cable out and watching Angel on televesion via laptop, but soon, I was like a drug addict and Netflix Instant was my herion – no longer could I stand to wait for it to be hooked up to the TV. I started taking it straight up off the laptop, with the ‘play next’ button at my finger tips. Finished Firefly (and Serentity) in three days over winter break. I thought my addication could get no worse. But before I knew it, like a herion addict screaming “just put it in my veins!” I was shooting up everynight with the Netflix Watch Instantly iPhone app. That’s right friends – you can crawl into bed with Netflix Watch Instantly, and the red glow can lull you to sleep every night. Last night, after going to bed to Veronica Mars Season tTee, dreams of Logan Echolls filled my head. It was awesome.

    My name is Soybean, and I’m a Neflix-aholic.

  3. Does anyone remember Histeria!? I think it was made by the Animaniacs folks and it was supposed to be historical edutainment. It was really short-lived and didn’t start until I was nearly finished high school in the late 90s but it certainly appealed to my then stoner sensibilities.

      1. Agreed. Honestly though my memory of the show is so fuzzy that I can’t say with any conviction whether or not their historical facts were particularly accurate. Nonetheless, your point stands. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that Histeria! is available anywhere for sale or streaming, although there are youtube clips.

        (Yay for John John love! He and Grover were fundamental to my childhood.)

  4. I used to be obsessed with Care Bears, My Little Pony, and the Ninja Turtles. When I got older it was The Tiny Toons and Animaniacs.

    My parents say I also enjoyed the Smurfs, but I don’t remember them as well as the others. I also remember watching Duck Tales, Count Duckula, Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, and The Baby Muppets.

    Teenage years cartoons included, of course, The Simpsons and later on, Daria. (Who am I kidding I still watch The Simpsons!)

  5. I mentioned this in a comment on the Gen X vs. Gen Y cartoon discussion, but it bears repeating: Rugrats is on Netflix Instant, and when I watched it, I had a moment similar to what you wrote about Angry Beavers: Why was this show marketed to kids? I mean, I remember really liking it as a tyke, but watching it at 23, I was suprised at how clever and adult-oriented it seemed. Maybe it’s just because the protaganists were babies (or Beavers, or whatever) that TV execs didn’t see it as lucrative for a non-kid audience, but I love the 90s cartoons just as much, if not more, now.

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