Yesterday was my birthday but I spent so much time writing this and doing other stuff (I have a life, you know!), I only managed to post this now. Sorz, as some horrible people once invented as the additional letter to the word “Sorry” would be so inconvenient that planets would fade out and die while they were adding it.
Finally, I can breathe out. For one year I was so stressed out that I would become ridiculously famous and get drug addicted, married, divorced, depressed and then become a member of Club 27. But I managed to spend the last year doing nothing, really, so it all panned out just as planned.
Now, 28 is an important year. It’s the year that middle-aged women fix in their mind to add the cheeky letter of the alphabet to indicate how old they really are. Like “28q”. Haha, we get it, you’re as old as this joke, right? And now please get your stairmaster out of my way, my shopping is quite heavy.
This will also be the year when I quite possibly become ridiculously famous, and get drug addicted, married, divorced, married again (to Jeremy Renner, I already promised) and then might or might not “accidentally” post a smartphone-mirror-boob-photo of myself on twitter or whatever becomes cool in the next 365 days. So look out for me and/or my boobs.
To celebrate this oh so very important day, I thought I might collect a lovely top 10 list of the most important tv series that got me through childhood and the part of puberty that I devoted to prolonging my childhood as long as possible. I still have no idea how I managed to watch so much tv, read heaps of books and still have friends. Children are truly timelords because as soon as you turn 14, you have no time for anything anymore except feeling miserable, hating adults and listening to dubious music.
So, without further ado:
1. The Adventures of Pete and Pete
My undying love for this exceptional kid’s show is no surprise for my hardcore readers, as I now and then post clips or reference them or post a Polaris song which was the awesome one-off band that exclusively made music for this show and then disappeared into stardust.
I don’t think that there is any series that is so much fun, innovative, good-natured, wacky and full with relatable topics as this one and it’s one of the few tv moments when something magical happens and all the right people create something at the right time.
There are so many things that I remember from watching, that stuck with me and always remind me of my childhood. The episode about staying up all night was one of my favourites because this is every kid’s dream (I actually managed it one time during holidays in Denmark together with a bunch of other kids. I don’t know how we did it but I remember that we did nothing spectacular and therefore pretty much failed the whole concept of staying up late. But we had fun all the while, so maybe we didn’t fail that hard).
The greatest thing: You can watch it in your twenties and still love it. I mean, Iggy Pop plays a stuck up dad in this series. How freaking awesome. I heard that even Gonzo guru Hunter S. Thompson played a part, so no, there was nothing cooler on tv during the 90s than this series.
This was my “Twilight Zone”. I was in my early tweens when I first watched the X-Files, it must have been one of the earliest episodes (the one with the parasite at the north pole) which was creepy as hell, even from today’s standards (which are not that high).
I was into everything creepy and because this was the only series I was allowed to watch as a kid that was scary as hell, this was my gateway to all things horror movie. It was a shame that the ending was so disappointing and that they got stuck up so much on the alien conspiration because truth be told, the episodes about monsters, ghosts and other supernatural phenomena usually were my favourites, probably because I didn’t get to watch all of them and therefore lost the plot with the long and intricate narration of the alien abductions.
My favourite will always be the one with Tooms, the guy that could stretch and who lived forever.
3. The Muppet Show
Obviously, this is on my list. The Muppet show was family time when everyone got together on a Sunday morning and watched this. I already talked a lot about it, so let’s just say that this show brought music, comedy and the family together and therefore combined pretty much all my priorities in life (not necessarily in that order, mind).
This is such a classic, well-written and perfectly timed routine.
4. Eerie Indiana
This show – I loved it. I was not someone who got up at the exact same time each weekend and I also had parents that sometimes allowed me to watch tv in the morning and sometimes didn’t. So managing to turning on the tv and actually seeing a full episode of Eerie Indiana was like finding the golden grail for me.
I also encountered the doppelgänger-mysterium with this one, which you might know as well: there are series you don’t watch often but especially during the 90s, when reruns where pretty much IN, I very often tuned in the exact same episode every single time. For me, it was the Tupperware episode which I loved so much that I didn’t mind (there were other doppelgänger-episodes of other series, that drove me insane, though).
Anyways, American smalltowns and their potential for compressed, claustrophobic mysteries fascinated me then and now and I am quite sure that “Pete & Pete” and “Eerie Indiana” did their best to deepen this fascination into an outright obsession.
5. Quantum Leap
I haven’t seen the series for a long time now, so I have no idea whether it still applies but as a kid and again as a teenager (when the reruns where my daily routine to avoid doing my homework) I thought that the story telling was epic, the adventures incredible and I am quite sure, I learned a few lessons because it was a brilliant commentary on history. And I obviously had a crush on Al (who didn’t with his flashy suits and cheeky commentary).
It’s also one of those series where you can bawl unashamedly because the drama is cheesy as hell but still top notch and very well acted.
Ok, enter my love for the weird cartoon side of the 90s, To be honest, I gobbled up everything cartoon that I could get, so I know pretty much all series, from Thundercats to Bonkers to Dexter’s Laboratory and Rocko’s modern life. But the Animaniacs and Freakazoid were those kind of shows whose ADD format and popcultural commentary really made my Saturday morning.
I know that many people cite Monty Python for their sense of humor and comedic aspirations but I am quite sure that the weirdness of all my favourite kid’s shows actually turned me into what I am today. Which is – erratic, at best.
7. Ghost Busters
Fuck Yeah! My cartoon crush (next to Wolverine) was on Ray, obviously, after all, he was the dorky nerd and he was played by Dan Aykroyd who I still love despite all the teen movie dads he played in horrible teen movies.
8. Ren & Stimpy
My dad and I had pretty much the same sense of humor when it came to the Simpsons, the Muppets and the Blues Brothers. But one day he came into my room and I had Ren & Stimpy on tv. It probably was one of the episodes where one of them goes crazy (which happened pretty much always and was usually Ren’s job). He stood in the doorway and watched for a couple of minutes without any expression. He then turned to me and said: I guess I just don’t get it. And then he left.
I simply loved the gross close-ups, the constant sense of insanity and the absurdness of it all that was so incredibly out of this world that I still wonder how any of us Nick-fans made it out of the 90s without imploding.
In a way, it was like “Invader Zim“, a series that I can’t name here because I discovered it in my early twenties but that had the same sense of paranoia and alienation (see what I did there?) mixed with absurd humor.
9. Hey Arnold
My moral compass. Everything is right with this series, the stories are great, the characters are impeccable and the lessons learned are completely without “tonight on a very special episode of Blossom”. This was a kind of crudely drawn kid’s cartoon that actually made you cry because it was so heartwarming and close to their target audience that I dare anyone to find fault with this series (well, the animation might not be everyone’s cup of tea but everything else makes up for it and in the end I loved it, the overexaggerated features of everyone made it fun because as a kid you think that all your shortcomings are the biggest feature of yourself, so seeing everyone on that series with those big glasses, noses, heads or hairstyles was comfort for my bubble-headed-me).
My favourite episode must have been “Field Trip”. I don’t know how many man-cards this episode has pulverized by salty, salty tears.
10. Ready or not
I nearly named “Blossom” because I love that show and really liked it as a kid but when it comes to series that made an impression on me, I guess that this brilliant Canadian girl’s show is a lot higher on the list. “Ready or not” had two fairly typical female characters, one girly, one more of a tomboy. The great thing is that both made mistakes, acted out, behaved stupidly and selfish but were quite loveable throughout.
Pretty much all things were addressed and especially the last couple of series were not shy of tackling quite difficult topics (racism, bullying and even the death of a schoolmate). All in a subdued and well written manner. The main characters didn’t solve their problems within one episode and sometimes didn’t resolve their problems at all which happens and should be taught as well otherwise you just feel like a failure when you don’t get the invite to prom when the outro music sets in.
So, there it is. A small glimpse into my tv-head of 8-14 years.
Honorable mentions that I might tackle another time: Pepper Ann, Blossom, The secret world of Alex Mack, The Wonder Years, Daria…