by Spencer Overbay
I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid, way more than I probably should have. It was one of the many benifits of not having many friends. I’m sure you’re jealous. Between the ages of five and twelve, I did my best to see every animated children’s program available. Anyway, what I’ve prepared for you here is a list of the top five cartoons from the childhoods of our high school generation.
There are a few rules for this list. Each item has to be an animated cartoon that aired any time between 2000 and 2008. It has to be appropriate for children, and it has to be really, really good.
5. The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy: My mother actually didn’t want me to watch this show before its premiere because she was worried that it would make it hard for me to sleep at night. Little did she know that this show wasn’t quite as scary as it’s title implied. Sure, it was macabre, but not quite scary. A different adjective comes to mind when I think about how to describe this show, hilarious. Indeed, much of my sense of humor was developed while watching this show. It wasn’t just funny, it also had another appeal to it. It was strange. The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy wasn’t just strange in the sense that all cartoons are, it was surreal to the point that I never wanted to stop watching. I suppose you could say that it really played off of a kid’s fascination with the bizzare. Anything can keep your attention if it’s strange enough. This show had the added benifit of being really funny as well. Plus, it didn’t keep me up at night—unless there were some late night episodes I wanted to watch.
4. Freakazoid: This is definately one of the lesser known items on this list, and that’s sad, really. When I want to talk about Freakazoid with someone, their usual reaction is something along the lines of “Huh?” or “Is that some kind of energy drink?” However, there is a base of loyal fans who do remember this show, and I’m proud to be one of them. Freakazoid is hard to put into words. It’s kind of a show about a superhero called Freakazoid, but calling it a super hero cartoon would never give it justice. It’s got that Looney Tunes style that makes me nastalgic for even older cartoons and a sense of humor so unique that it doesn’t remind me of anything at all. Freakazoid’s strength was in it’s randomness as well as its cleverness. If you are interested in checking this show out, all 20+ episodes can still be viewed on Youtube. I still remember when when I learned “Frenching with the Freak” and that valuable lesson I learned about how you can still get married and eat a lot of meat. Now that I think about it, I didn’t learn much of anything from this show, but it was entertaining.
3. Teen Titans: This show was on a more serious note than the majority of Saturday morning cartoons, but make no mistake, it was still funny. Teen Titans is a perfect example of how a show can have plenty of humor without distracting from its action and story. I remember some truly tense and emotional moments that I didn’t really expect from a fun comic book cartoon. One of my favorite things about this show was its diversity. I wasn’t watching the same thing every week. Each episode had different twists and themes, while still maintaining the same quality and tone. I remember the happiness of seeing the start of a new episode, as well as the minor disappointment I always got when I had to wait another week to see what happened next. It’s something I really miss. Sure, there’s a new Teen Titans cartoon on the air today, but anyone can tell you that it’s just not the same.
2. The Power Puff Girls: Every time I remember this show, I think about just how many hours of entertainment it brought to me. This show was every Saturday morning for me. I didn’t just watch it on Saturday mornings. It was my Saturday mornings. This show is exibit A of why Lauren Faust is the greatest cartoonist of modern time. To miss out on this show was to miss out on something truly awesome. Who doesn’t want to see three adorable little girls punch monsters directly in the face? It’s a formula that can’t fail! I’m not sure how much can be said about this show that hasn’t been said already. This show was more than sugar, spice, and everything nice. There was something else added to it that really made it a cut above the rest. That is, a cut above all the rest but one…
1. Invader Zim: I mentioned before that The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy played off of our fascination with the strange. If that’s the case, then Invader Zim thrived on it. If you’ve ever seen this show, then I don’t need to explain why it’s number one to you, but unfortunately, not everyone has seen this show. So, what do you get when you take a writer whose previous work was a comic series about a serial killer (Johnny the Homocidal Maniac) and give him the creative reigns to make a childrens TV show? It sounds like a terrible idea, right? Jhonen Vasquez’s surreal and slightly disturbing creative mark is all over this show and it’s one of the things I love about it so much. Invader Zim is a cartoon that I can remember vividly for its unique humor, strange stories, and fascinating art style—not to mention, the hands down funniest animated character ever made: GIR. This show sadly joined the ranks of Freakazoid and Firefly on the list of truly awesome shows that were cancelled early on for presumably no good reason; but we still have two complete seasons of gems to watch on Netflix. I suggest getting to it if you haven’t seen it.