Why Resurrecting ’90s Nickelodeon Is a Bad Idea: A Polemic


There are some opinions that are so unpopular to express that they’re essentially one-way tickets to social exile. Hating baby animals, for one. Wishing cookies were never invented. Thinking Gigli is a good movie. Today, though, I bite my tongue no longer on one of the big ones.

After the announcement that Nickelodeon is resurrecting All That, The Amanda Show, and a few other classics for late-night reruns, I’m coming out with my true feelings: the celebratory orgy for this revival is misguided. Nineties Nickelodeon shows were good fun and all, but bringing them back could destroy the value they have left for the current, 20-something generation of couch potatoes. After the jump, check out three key reasons why resurrecting ’90s Nick is a bad idea, and feel free to relieve your daily tomato-pelting urges in the comments.

1. The ’90s Nickelodeon nostalgia is getting repetitive.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone work themselves into a lather remembering how much they loved ’90s Nick, I’d have a good dollar or two. This is Diet Coke vending machine money, people.

There’s no inherent problem in talking about the ’90s all day, every day. I know and love that there’s some real generational glue in being able to shout out, along with Kel, that I “looooove orange soda,” or singing the Camp Anawanna song, or shaking our fist at how bad some kids are at putting together the Shrine of the Silver Monkey.

But it’s almost creepy how obsessed our generation is with TV from the ’90s. Mention Doug to a group of 20-somethings, and almost all of them will start screaming that Doug was the greatest show ever, that Patti Mayonnaise is every girl’s hero, that the episode with the zit was the best — no wait, the one about The Beets totally was. And as soon as that is over, it becomes an all-out competition to figure out who can name the most obscure ’90s Nick show. No one remembers anything about Allegra’s Window , but I’m shocked when it doesn’t get a shout-out.

Look, some of these shows were great — no, legendary. Nonetheless, we have to stop having the same conversation over and over again, especially when we recognize that everyone liked ’90s Nick and we all remember the same three episodes of every show. There’s really not as much to that as we think.

2. Not every ’90s Nick show was as brilliant as we remember.

Harsh, I know, but it’s true.

Clarissa didn’t do much besides sigh into the camera when explaining it all. Pete & Pete was, in reality, pretty bizarre for seven-year-olds to be watching (remember Little Pete’s weird forearm tattoo of a half naked woman, Petunia?). One of The Amanda Show‘s strongest and most beloved punchlines was “Bring out the lobsters!,” which cued a bunch of lobsters to burst onto the stage and dance.

There are arguments for and against every show’s merits, but we should still realize that one of the funniest things about being a kid in the early days of kid-friendly programming is that you’re young, and your tastes aren’t fully developed yet. Anything that’s animated or has a rockin’ theme song or makes lots of fart jokes will automatically be the greatest piece of entertainment to ever exist. The gift of growing up is the opportunity to put some distance between our grown-up selves and the 9 year olds who loved these shows.

But, instead, the weird collective nostalgia complex we’ve cultivated around ’90s kids’ television has us convinced that every single one of these shows was packed with great characters and jokes that could stand the test of time. Maybe children’s TV was better then than it is now, but that doesn’t excuse us from acting like crotchety grandparents, forever insisting that, back in our day, there was quality music, not this no-good “rapping” business. The ’90s were a good time for kids’ TV, but the least we can do is act a little less snobby about it, because our shows sure had their share of dancing lobster moments, too.

3. Does anyone really care about reruns?

That said, I understand that the best shows of the crop were genuinely good and will be pretty fun to revisit, especially considering these shows will be playing from midnight to 2 am, when everyone’s sense of humor is at its most questionable.

But even so, Rugrats , Angry Beavers , Aaahh!!! Real Monsters , and Rocko’s Modern Life are all on Netflix Watch Instantly. Many of the other series are out on DVD. And any remaining shows worth a view have plenty of clips available on YouTube, in a short format that ensures we’ll see the best stuff, with none of the crap. So why should we care about reruns?

More importantly, by rejoicing over these shows’ return to TV, we’re only throwing our support behind lazy television — at a time when a camera + “guidos” + the Jersey Shore = a huge hit. What about pushing for, oh, I don’t know, better original programming? New shows, funny shows, anything that should logically get us a thousand times more excited than the announcement of reruns that few of us will likely even watch. Now that would be wild.

Or, you know, we can just all sit around and pray for reruns of Catdog : a show about a dog with an annoying cat for a butt. Whatever works.