When I was a kid I watched a crap load of television. I have always been an entertainment junkie but in my childhood I had less discriminating tastes. If it was flashy, had a hot guy in it, or was vapidly funny I would enjoy it. But when I grew up I rejected all of my previous tastes like they were yesterday’s newspapers. (I have always wanted to use that analogy and although it doesn’t fit nicely I am keeping it damn it!) I was into arty films, cult television shows that were over too soon and everything that was considered weird by “normal” entertainment seeking people. Basically my rule of thumb was if my parents liked it, I could not like it at all. Teenager stuff I know but it lasted way past me being a teenager. But as I grew up (I’ll be 24 in a week!), I realized that some shows I watched as a kid were actually good shows. So this is a top 5 list to convince you cynical bastards that can’t enjoy anything from your youth that maybe you didn’t have as bad of taste as you thought you did.
5. The Adventures of Pete and Pete
I watched this show to learn the rules of flashlight tag, to know that in order to train for an athletic endeavor you must put deodorant on around your neck, and to mimic Artie’s superhuman feats. All of these things were decidedly childish to me and I gave up the intricate knowledge that was this show as I became 13 hell even 14 years old. When I started to read pop culture blogs, this show began to creep up again and again (The AV Club seems to be maddeningly in love with this show) and I decided to rent the DVDs from local video store. As I watched the show, I recognized underground early nineties music, character actors that have since gone on to do awesome things (including my character actor crush, Steve Buscemi… will you be my BFF?), and music icons make guest appearances. All of these things would have gone over my head when I was obsessed with the plate in Mom’s head when I was a kid, but now I see how much it enriched the show. Also the stories may seem to be inconsequential, but they are treated like the epic feats. This lends to the dark humor of the show and the intriguing story lines. The passing down a bowling ball, killing the school’s mascot (a squid), staying awake in order to break the adult conspiracy, and being a dot in the school band marching contest are all treated as entries in the Odyssey. This mirrors most people’s experience with childhood where everything that happens to you is the biggest thing ever. Because of this and all the silly characters including Petunia, Artie, Open Face, Endless Mike, and Nona I still find this show enjoyable.
4. Bill Nye the Science Guy and Dexter’s Laboratory
I was never a science geek, but I have always wanted to be. I used to watch these two shows after school and wish I was smart. With Bill Nye I did seem to be smarter than I thought because I understood what he was laying down. It was only later when he was used as a teaching tool in school that I realized he was trying to teach me something which instantly turned me off of him and turned me on instead to Dexter’s Laboratory. Dexter was not teaching me anything but he was still an enjoyable science geek. As I grew up I realized that Dexter’s Laboratory did actually teach me some things (like French!) and Bill Nye was actually an enjoyable school lesson. If I ever have kids (haha fat chance!) they will be forced to watch these shows on repeat. For more on my love of Dexter’s Laboratory please see other top 5s of mine.
3. 3rd Rock From the Sun
This is one of those shows I used to watch with my parents before I was a cool teenager. I used to laugh my butt off every time they would receive transmissions from the Big Giant Head in the sky. I had a huge crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt (and still do!). Every night after I watched an episode I used to wish that I was an alien sent to earth to figure things out. But as I grew into a sulky teenager, I refused to be in the living room any time my parents were there, so it limited me on 3rd Rock From the Sun exposure and I finally forgot about the series. In recent times the show has popped up on Netflix Watch Instant and as I am constantly in need of new entertainment, I decided to watch the series again. I forgot how genuinely funny most of the show was. The premise and their adventures are still basic cable cheesy, but it doesn’t matter in the hands of these comedians. The wordplay is easily something that I completely forgot about. I still can’t believe something that made my father laugh is still funny this many years past. I mean he watches Sanford and Sons now. Can you say Ugh?
2. Daria, Beavis and Butthead, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Ahh! Real Monsters
Most of what is on MTV and Nickelodeon now is horrible. Filled with inane reality shows, shitty premises, and Spongebob, the networks have definitely gone downhill. But there was a time where they did have awesome and edgy shows. Rocko’s Modern Life was about an Australian wallaby that got into absurd misadventures with his dog Spike and his cow friend Heffer. The absurdist nature of the show broke my young kid brain in half and I watched it on repeat (in between Rugrats of course). This was the same with Ahh! Real Monsters. Shows that enjoy high cult status now like Adventure Time, Invader Zim, and Regular Show all owe large debts to these two shows. They broke the Transformers mold and showed that kids can still enjoy some really scary premises. Daria and Beavis and Butthead were my version of rebelling. Beavis and Butthead were on every parent’s radar as being full of crap, and Daria got tainted by association (made by the same people and on the same network). But both of these shows were integral to my life and they still hold up even a decade gone. I watch Daria on repeat still and I can’t believe how much I wanted to be like her. (I kind of am in some good ways and in some not so good ways)
1. Saturday Night Live
There is this weird phenomenon with Saturday Night Live where as the show changes casts, the audience that loved the previous cast says the new cast is shit and the people who hadn’t watched the previous cast say that those improvisers were horrible and this new cast is super awesome. My cast was the early 2000s with Ferrell being the primary funny man. Literally when he left the show I cried. He was the source of oft quoted lines in high school. I rejected previous casts like they were trash. And everything after I equally rejected as being the worst ever. But as I grew wiser I realized that Saturday Night Live will always have slump periods but overall there will be funny people, funny writers, and funny premise present in everyday situations. I have grown to appreciate every different cast for their break out sketches and forgive them for their half-baked ones. I think you should to. Just breathe and let go of the anger that Andy Samberg brings just by appearing on-screen with his too handsome face. He is funny, just not all the time and that is okay.
TV Shows that do not hold up at all (Why did I watch this crap?):
Clarissa Explains it All
Saved by the Bell
Friends (controversial I know, but come on this show was one big soap opera with pie in the face gags)
Dawson’s Creek (Watch Beware the B in Apt 23… It’s a pretty funny rift on the Dawson phenmenona)
7th Heaven (I only watched one season of this and realized how incredibly boring it was… some of my peers weren’t so lucky)
The list could go on forever, but I will save you some cringe worthy shrugs at your attempt to really like these bland situational shows.