The 90’s had wonderful cartoons, but were they all nice and kid friendly?
Well, not entirely, some cartoons were Dark and Dank.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender, has been applauded as one of the greatest animated shows of the past 20 years. Its brilliant world-building and chaotic levity in the face of darkness makes Avatar a perfect halt from the pressures of the real world.
The protagonist of the show is an Air Nomad named Aang. As the titular “Avatar”, Aang is the only one on the planet who can control (or “bend”) the four elements of nature: air, water, fire, and earth. Prior to the main events of the series, Aang froze himself in the ocean for 100 years following an attack by the jingoist Fire Nation that wiped out his entire people. And yeah, he was twelve years old at the time all this happened.
So, this child is woken up after a century to find that: First, basically everyone he’s ever known has died, second, his entire culture is dead, and at the last, the world is now almost totally under the control of the Fire Nation and it’s pretty much all his fault. That’s a staggering burden for anyone to bear, let alone someone who has yet to come out off adolescence.
Thomas and Friends
You will probably remember Thomas & Friends as a mostly harmless piece of preschool-level entertainment designed to sell toy trains. The comic Thomas and his friends had creepy-dead-eyes, but the core values must have been about the importance of friendship and the value of teamwork or whatever. Right?
Well, the actual elements of the show are institutionalized racism, the battle for the volatile love of a dictatorial overlord, and repudiating those who lack value to the state. See, Thomas and the rest of the upper crust of the Island of Sodor (the home of the trains) are steam engines. They are encouraged by the railway baron Sir Topham Hatt to demoralize and scorn the inferior diesel engines that also populate the island. Hatt rules Sodor with an iron fist, relegating machines he considers less-than-useful to the hellish Smelter’s Yard to be cannibalized for materials.
Courage : The Cowardly Dog
Courage the Cowardly Dog is a veritable display of terror. The show involves an incredibly gifted lavender dog. He lives in the fictional town of Nowhere, Kansas with his owners Muriel and Eustace Bagge.
After an act of abandonment by his parents, they forcibly shot into space by a crazy vet, Courage places great value on the integrity of the family. Although easily frightened, he goes to great lengths to protect Eustace and Muriel from all manner of monsters, aliens, and straight-up demons from hell. He even develops a complex system of non-verbal communication, to warn them of imminent danger. And his reward?
He frequently receives torture by Eustace, both psychologically and physically. Muriel, his only source of comfort, is mostly oblivious to his warnings and almost never acknowledges his astounding heroics. On the bright side, at least he has access to a computer! But, the computer hated Courage.
Pinky and the Brain
The whole show revolves around two genetically modified lab mice. Brain who tries to take over the world. And he usually fails due to a combination of his own hubris, his sidekick Pinky’s incompetence, and outside circumstances. The world remains unconquered, and we get to see our hilarious duo up to the same thing the next night.
The people who created them at Acme Labs are just horrific people. Pinky and the Brain only perform their offbeat escapades at night, after scientific experimentation at the lab all day. That means the scientists who work at the lab are experimenting on sentient beings that they created. One can make the argument that the scientists don’t know the mice have human-level intelligence which seems unlikely given the obvious physical mutations they’ve undergone, but that only makes it worse. Imagine behaving like a dumb animal all day while an incompetent scientist performs vicious experiments on you.
The show depicts the joyful sponge living in Bikini bottom of the sea. Let’s look at the hardcore facts of SpongeBob’s life. He lives all alone, completely alone except for his pet snail which is a cat. While his age is indeterminate we know that he is both old enough to be in his mid-to-late 20s. His mental health is severely unstable, often experiencing intense mood swings. He can’t drive, he seems to have a borderline learning disability regarding boats. His neighbor, whom he considers one of his closest friends, hates him. He works as a fry-cook with no hope for career advancement, despite his unimaginable creative energy.
Hey Arnold !
Hey Arnold! offered a seemingly amiable distraction from the unique pressures of childhood. As an adult, however, it’s difficult to ignore the very real problems in Arnold’s fictional city.
The show deals with organized crime, the struggle of immigrants, and school budget shortages in just some of its storylines. In short, the series was really about the crippling poverty of inner cities and the challenges that poses to public education. Which many thought, was inappropriate for kids as it would be a bad influence.
Ed, Edd and Eddy
When looking back at some things which the cartoon shows, you can’t help but wonder what the hell the animators were thinking. Furthermore, how on Earth they got away with it! .The cartoon depicts two of the characters sitting with a porn magazine surrounded by some questionable used tissues.
As a child, you wouldn’t have noticed or given it a second glance, but looking at it now, you can’t help but gasp. This isn’t the only a smutty reference in the show, as there was also a Post-it note in one of the characters’ bathrooms from their parents reading “don’t touch yourself”.
Cow and Chicken
Cow and Chicken is an animated comedy series which aired on Cartoon Network during the late ’90s. Yes, Cow and Chicken are their real names of the protagonists. But it gets even weirder because their parents are human.
The good-natured and dimwitted ‘Cow’ and her contemptuous older brother ‘Chicken’ often involve in silly pranks with their sworn enemy Red Guy, who uses various disguises to scam the sibling duo.
Cow and Chicken wasn’t a stranger to sarcasm either, as the siblings would often order meals such as pork butts and taters. The series humor describes as malformed, repulsive and off-color. Much of the humor and storylines are based on traditional childhood worries, anxieties, and phobias but heavily exaggerated.
Although, The Simpsons cartoon took to marketing and actually intends for the adult audiences. But, kids all over the world grew up watching the mischievous Bart get into all sorts of trouble. The lack of punishment or consequences for Bart’s misbehavior led some parents to criticize the show for being a bad influence on children. And the thought of watching this cartoon as a kid is thrilling. At such a young age, we can kind of see where these concerned parents are coming from. The series contains a lot of satirical social commentary, as well as a parody of the American culture, society, television and the human conditions.
Also, read about how Indian ads have evolved over the years Best Indian Ads That Capture The Spirit Of INDIA