By: Dara Edwards
When you think of cartoons, what pops into your head? Is it shows like Adventure Time with wacky characters and storylines, or something more like Steven Universe, with a longer plot and interesting world building? There are many different platforms to watch cartoons on and all hold some special place in our hearts. Let’s look back on some personal favorites and hits that made your Saturday mornings worth getting up early for!
Cartoon Network, founded by Ted Turner, has a long history of T.V. shows that were known to engage young audiences. Shows such as Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, and Ed, Edd, and Eddy were shows that kept viewers on their toes. These shows were known to have interesting plots where the craziest of things could happen. It engaged a child’s imagination and left many wonderful marks in their minds, allowing them to feel better about wanting to be a hero or even a scientist. Sadly, these shows were cancelled or taken off the air in the very early 2000’s, but reruns were played all the time even after their cancellation as they all performed well. This is evident as well with shows like Powerpuff Girls being given a reboot withing the last few years!
As time went on, Cartoon Network began reaching out to a different demographic, most of them being young boys. This is when they began running more action-packed shows like Codename: Kids Next Door, Ben-10, and Secret Saturdays. They found that their audience had been growing up and were exiting the random stages of life and were able to pay more attention to and understand more complex plots. This introduced more character development into their shows, but also finding new ways of animating intense combat! This also meant introducing heavier topics into shows like Teen Titans. In episode 45, ‘Troq”, one of the characters is shown being treated less equally than the rest of the team being referred to in discriminatory ways and left for dead. They use expressions, words, and body language to really convey how much racism can hurt a person and getting others to listen. It’s shows that have moments like that, where complex feelings and situations that children can understand and take a lesson from. Steven Universe, known for being on of the most LGBTQ+ inclusive shows on the network, helps viewers deal with their emotions and how to talk to others in a healthy and productive way. Not only that, but it helps people understand how different types of relationships are expressed along with the abusive types of relationships.
Recently Cartoon Network has seen a change in programming, aiming at younger children once again. Teen Titans Go, a spin-off show from the earlier Teens Titans cartoon, has no real plot lines in their shows and is more over-the-top with more toilet humor than its predecessor. My generation, those born in or around the very early 2000’s, see these as completely veering away from what the channel used to be, but I personally don’t believe that’s the case. Demographics change based on what is popular in the media and what children are posting online. Of course we won’t be as pleased with these shows and what they’re doing, because it’s not meant to be aimed at us. We’ve grown up and Cartoon Network knows that. As we know, though, history repeats itself, and we’re already seeing that in fashion which means that we may see some aspects of our favorite shows once again.
Image Credit: Reddit