The 90s culture was one without major cell phones, reliable internet or many other technological upgrades that are seen commonly today. It was also characterized by television programming and, specifically, cartoons seeds that had just been planted by the Simpsons boom throughout the decade. Unlike The Simpsons, some of these cartoons never made it out of that century, but their impact was still felt by children and adults in various, sweeping crazes. Below is a list of shows that did not make it out of the 90s, or should not have, but still had enough time to leave a lasting image.
One of the first 90s animated couples to leave an enduring impact was Ren and Stimpy, a running tale about a dog and cat odd couple within a fairly strange world. In fact, it seems tough to understate how weird their world actually was. The world was populated with backwards-flying superheroes named Powdered Toast Man, toys named “Log,” and talking horses. The world around Ren Hoeck and Stimpy J. Cat often had them exchanging worried glances when things felt a bit too out of control. What keeps this show memorable is these constant reminders that the main characters are just as worried about what is happening around them as those watching should be. That fourth-dimension humor was a novelty that few other shows had attempted at the time, keeping this show humorous even today.
Possibly the second most wide-spread, cartoon-related phenomenon of the 90s, Beavis and Butt-Head made a lot of people feel comparatively smart while ticking their funny bones. These two characters, portrayed with barely a full brain between them, pushed the envelope in several ways that other shows were never allowed to approach with their sexist, classist and, ultimately, “stupid” way of interacting with the world around them. In the real world, parents did anything they could to fight back against the various curse words and insults the show made up, suddenly maturing the viewing audience and forcing them to deal with many issues at once. Mike Judge, the show’s creator, brought the show back for a single season run in 2011, but so many years between episodes showed that the maturity of cartoon content had passed this trend starter by.
Another of Nickelodeon’s 90s hits, Rocko’s Modern Life put the “chokey” in “Chokey Chicken.” This colorful comedy featured the wallaby Rocko, his steer friend Heifer and a cast of other animal-based humanoid creatures. Where this show excelled is in taking common ideas, such as being sick or going camping, and putting them to imaginative extremes that subtly graced mature themes such as death and suicide. In that way, this was a pioneer in teaching viewers about playful but useful approaches to everyday problems, as well as showing off the imagination of all those involved in the show’s production.
The 90s, thanks to The Simpsons and other shows, was a melting pot of cartoon content that may not have lasted, but still gave viewers a lesson and something to laugh at. Channels such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Fox set precedent with memorable lineups, among the best of their offerings being Daria, Doug, The Tick, Aeon Flux and Rugrats for their respective channels. Being a 90s baby meant that, if nothing else, there was almost always an entertaining cartoon to watch on television.
Opinion by Myles Gann