An effective way to judge what time period a person grew up is by asking what their favorite childhood cartoon was. Decades of cartoons are so definitive to the time era they aired, their cultural influences and childhood impacts last lifetimes.
While that may be a generalization, there is a large truth there for past cartoon watchers. ‘90s babies will fight for “Hey Arnold!,” “Rugrats,” “Rocko’s Modern Life” and more until their grave. But late ‘90s and ‘00s kids will likely say shows like “SpongeBob,” “Courage the Cowardly Dog” and more defined their childhood.
This idea even goes back to the “Flintstones,” “Smurfs” and the “Looney Tunes” era of the ‘70s and ‘80s – cartoons my mom would say were her favorite.
But the debate between favorite cartoons or cartoons throughout generations is not one that can be won. While those on Rotten Tomatoes or ranking websites can argue, those experiences and feelings in watching a favorite cartoon cannot be compared.
I recently watched a YouTube video by the channel Nerdstalgic, who explained this magical power of nostalgia and childhood memories in analyzing the show “Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends.” The show was popular on Cartoon Network in the mid-2000s.
This channel highlights the show’s appeal – from its psychedelic nature in design and captivating storyline, the show had a strong approval rating with adults as well.
The cast represents these characters in a variety of shapes, sizes and looks. These psychedelic aspects can reflect how extensive a child’s imagination truly is.
The basis of the show goes past character design to tell the story of forgotten, lost, or unwanted imaginary friends. The show radiates the energy of being a kid and in watching this video I truly realized the small lessons built into every episode.
Turns out there is a massive amount of these nostalgia creators on YouTube. They spread the positive messages and nostalgic feelings of animated cartoons by analyzing storylines, character design and more.
Nostalgia is an important part in growing up as it allows one to keep a bit of childish energy in them that can liven up life.
This feeling can bring one back to what it was like racing home after school to the TV to catch a show before it is over. It brings back the spirits of childhood, when the only worries were being a kid – an unexplainable warm feeling that can easily give one a smile.
This feeling does stop at cartoons though. There are often social media posts that feature throwback nineties items like “Dunkaroos,” “Bop It,” or the one that recently really triggered me, the “Girl Tech Password Journal.”
Last year, my friends and I watched an hour-long YouTube video of nostalgic TV commercials. This was not because the content kept us intrigued with the story like, as there was no storyline, but because the nostalgic feelings of seeing Disney star Zack and Cody “Danimals” commercials were just that enjoyable.
The selection of cartoons to watch seemed endless at the time and were open to all kids to enjoy. This surplus of cartoons offered when I was growing up allowed myself, and every other child to choose their favorite cartoon based on preference.
Although the large number of cartoons certainly caused some remote-control disputes as my brother was a fan of Cartoon Network, while I favored Nickelodeon.
Overall, there are so many shows I watched that grew my love for animation today and I am glad there is a rise in the popularity of adult animated shows.
I think I still find enjoyment in Disney movies, cartoon shows and old shows from my childhood because the style of animation is comforting. It gives a direct gateway to those feelings of happiness and simplicity from childhood.
My enjoyment in adult animation can also be because I was raised with shows like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “King of The Hill’ on TV, in the adult animation renaissance of the ‘90s and ‘00s.
But the options to watch cartoons today do not stop at the adult animations. Hulu and Netflix offer numerous shows from the years of childhood. Starting in college, some of my grown friends have re-watched all seasons of SpongeBob.
Cartoons can be seen as timeless. There is no shame in re-watching a past favorite show to feel the childhood nostalgia again. They provide meaningful lessons and entertainment for kids, but also can be seen in an entirely different light as an adult – giving the ability to see growing up in a whole new light.