(Note: this is an old post taken from my old blog. Thought that it would bring back memories for some of you all. Enjoy!)
I am a ’90s kid. Yes, I am a product of Atari, Beanie Babies, Sock ’em Boppers, and Tamagotchis (although I had never played with one before). I remember when baggy pants were in style and belts were worn on almost everything. That Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC took the whole world by storm, long before One Direction did. That floppy discs were required to back up information and that shows had to be recorded on VHS. Sayings like “loser, loser double loser” and “that’s so cool…NOT!” were used ubiquitously by youth everywhere. Good times.
Yet, one particular aspect that I remember clearly were the ’90s cartoons on Nickelodeon. This was when Nickelodeon was the number one most-watched channel among children and teenagers. Nickelodeon reigned supreme. Nickelodeon was king.
From the ridiculous to the great, these cartoons filled up a large portion of my childhood days. Back before the laptop replaced the television, I sat in front of the boob tube, every afternoon and evening, and watched the latest episodes from my favorite shows.
Rugrats was one of the many that I watched. It is amazing to think that these infants, these toddlers, have such wacky adventures, all from the confines of their imagination. I still remember the ingenious way that Tommy Pickles would unlatch the playpen’s lock with his trusty screwdriver, thus opening up the possibilities of fun to the whole world. I would get angry at Angelica Pickles for being such a brat, trying to spoil the fun and taking advantage of both the children and adults. It’s funny, because I associated the name “Angelica” with negative thoughts (although it is not the case with all of the “Angelicas” in the world). Yet, in a way, she kind of grows on you, with her eccentricities and love for her doll Cynthia (which was pretty damn ugly).
Another show that has had a significant impact on my childhood memories was Hey Arnold! Just likeRugrats,Hey Arnold! featured a large group of kids, each with their own weird characteristics and traits. Besides the fact that Arnold, the titular character, had a football-shaped head, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized Arnold’s plaid “skirt” was not actually a skirt at all. It is just a jacket tied around his waist. Whoops. But it was Helga who was bad-ass. Hate her or love her, she made fun of “football head” because she was in love with him. Her shrine to Arnold both irritated and amused me. Yet, unlike Rugrats, the show had a darker tone to it. It was evident in the streets, the neighborhood where Arnold grows up in. It is very urban, with high buildings and concrete streets, as well as the ominous streetlights at night. Arnold lives in a small apartment with his grandparents, as well as with his neighbors, who come from a diversity of backgrounds, including Oskar from an unnamed Eastern European country and Mr. Hyunh from Vietnam. This pays homage to the melting pot culture in many large cities, including New York and Los Angeles. Despite the dark, more mature feel to the show, Hey Arnold! addressed significant issues about growing up, fitting in, and family.
Aside from those two shows, the other programs that I watched on Nickelodeon either were not as enjoyable or I just did not watch them on a regular basis. The quality of these shows were not bad, though. I acknowledge The Wild Thornberries for trying to interest children in wildlife, and found it very clever that the creators named Eliza’s chimpanzee Darwin. Rocket Power was kind of cool, in its chillaxing and sports-centered concept. But I found it implausible that nine and ten-year-olds could perform triple 360-flips on their skateboard, bike, and so forth. Ah, well. One can only dream. I also vaguely recall watching several episodes of CatDog, which was just annoying, and Doug, which I can’t remember being about.
As we venture into the 2000s, 2010s, and onwards, the ’90s are becoming a distant memory. Reruns are seldom airedon television anymore. I have replaced my daily dose of cartoons with live-action programs online. Growing up is bittersweet, but with the immensity of websites and fandoms dedicated to the ’90s, we have plenty of opportunities to revisit our childhood from time to time, even if it is only figuratively.