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.
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.
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?
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