Before Netflix, Hulu and other streaming websites became popular, most of us 90s kids were entertained by classic Nickelodeon shows. The network announced that a new channel, The Splat, will exclusively feature beloved 90s programs beginning this October. They have not specified which shows will actually air, however, keeping some hoping and guessing which of their favorites will make a comeback.
Like many others, I grew up watching Nickelodeon shows. I stayed glued to Ashley’s freak-outs on the “Ask Ashley” segment of “All That,” karma always catching up to Angelica on “Rugrats” and a family’s action-packed adventures on “The Wild Thornberrys.”
Today, Nickelodeon shows seem a lot different than what we used to watch. When I sit with a younger cousin to watch television, I can’t tolerate more than a couple minutes of programming. In my opinion, the quality has plummeted with overuse of tacky sound effects and overdramatic child actors.
Perhaps my critical view is because I’m looking at these shows through the lens of a college student instead of a little kid free of any pressing obligations. On the other hand, Nickelodeon seems to portray a more diverse—although limited in every aspect—cast of characters than in the 90s.
As a communication major, I constantly learn how the media have a profound influence on how people learn social behavior starting from a young age. Overall, ‘90s shows portrayed comical situations with quirky characters and never stepped outside the box of social norms. Yes, there were characters from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, but these were rarely the central points of any show.
“Rugrats” comes to mind with episodes centered on Jewish traditions, but the show has been criticized for stereotyping. Some may argue that TV in itself is a mindless and passive activity. So, why does the content really matter? Since most kids learn through what they observe, it seems necessary to present people from different backgrounds while instilling tolerance for all people.
Despite the lack of progressiveness, the older shows were entertaining and led many of us to reminisce about episodes and characters from our childhoods. It’s difficult to completely criticize the content of these shows because they were an integral part of my growing up. I can’t deny that I will probably procrastinate by turning on Nickelodeon to watch some of my favorites and laugh just as hard as I did when I was little.
Nickelodeon’s decision to make this new channel comes at a time when the Internet is rapidly replacing television. It almost seems like a desperate move to increase viewership when people gravitate toward online streaming. I wonder if the network has had trouble making shows that produce the same level of viewership as shows in the 90s. Bringing back these shows might be a way to combat this.
Young kids today probably won’t appreciate these old shows as much as we did, but it will be an opportunity for us to travel back in time when responsibilities were minimal and original shows were plentiful.