Episode 8: What You Notice with Adult Eyes in Kids’ Shows

There are really good programs that really define your childhood. They become synonymous with some of the best moments as a kid. The programs, especially cartoons, are very good in memory but if you look at them again after the years have gone by you will notice how a lot of them do not age well. 80s cartoons like GI Joe and Transformers are lasers that make explosions happen behind people that pushes them out of the screen. Smurfs and their underwater equivalent of the Snorks have some of the most basic storylines possible that just make you facepalm.

Then 90s came and decided to do some pretty cool things. The formula changed to have kids enjoy a show but have a lot of stuff that adults will understand and laugh at on their own right. Movies like Shrek follow that formula perfectly to make something kid and parent friendly. Perhaps the best example possible of a cartoon with hidden adult material was Animaniacs. That show was friggin’ awesome when I was a kid and seeing it years later through YouTube clips revealed things I had never noticed before. I never realized until way later that the three pigeons named The Goodfeathers was actually a parody of The Goodfellas. No kid should make this connection but it seems so obvious in hindsight. The tall Robert DeNiro one is particularly awesome, even getting the mannerisms to match pretty well. One episode had the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister) going on a radio show to convince a rather boisterous and insulting sparrow (well bird something I can’t remember well). The cool thing was that it was a parody of The Howard Stern Show. It was particularly brilliant because Robin was an actual robin. The insult off between Yacko and the Howard Stern expy had some pretty amazing moments that culminates in a crowning moment of funny as the former tells the latter that he “has a face that’s great for radio.” The best moment however comes from an episode when the trio are shown as detectives. For the following exchange to make sense it’s best if you read the next lines out loud. The homonyms, my God the homonyms. Anyway, Yakko is investigating the area and asks Dot to find “prints”. She appears a few seconds later with Prince in her arms (or the artist formerly known as Prince at that moment) and says found him. Yakko sighs and then says “No, no, no, I mean fingerprints” Cue Dot looking at the camera saying that’s she is not gonna go there. Actually, I don’t do the segment any justice, just check it out here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xmAC9Qu908

There are a lot of moments of humor that you just realize with time. But then there are others that just border on the disturbing. As I am writing this post, I ‘m seeing episodes of Hey Arnold and noticed something particularly weird. All of the characters have their own quirks but Muriel (Helga’s mom) really takes the cake. If you have seen the show you will notice that this character was very forgetful and would just not be attentive or caring. I and many others had made observations about this behavior but as I watch the show the idea is pretty well cemented. So yeah look at the show again and you will notice that Helga’s mom is clearly an alcoholic. Just in those two episodes I saw while writing this I saw that Helga was asking where her mom was and the dad says that she “fell asleep” behind the couch, again. She also carries a lot of questionable beverages of various colors at any given moment. It’s pretty creepy when character traits suddenly become legitimate problems and conditions that made the characters less funny and more pitied.

There are a lot of issues with what should be the intended audience of any particular work. Programs like these are designed for kids but had some extra elements outside their core group. Some of the shows from now a days need to have these extra things that can actually take over the reception of the show. The new My Little Pony show is a perfect example of this. But that is a topic for a post in the future before my status as a brony takes control of this blog.

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