When I was at school, there was this golden hour and a half or so just after you came home from school.
You’d have caught the bus to your house, gone to the kitchen, made yourself a chippy-sandwich, and still in your uniform, sat down in front of the TV and watched the after school shows.
Now that I’m older, and have to get up super early and don’t get home until it is nearly dark and don’t eat nearly as many chippy-sandwiches, I find myself reflecting back on this time with a very, very, deep sense of longing.
Tangled up in this longing is a starry-eyed nostalgia for the TV shows that I used to watch. These days (and this is from the outside looking in, mind you) the cartoons seem super alternative, and at times, complicated. Not to mention that every single one has a chain of action figures or other merchandise.
The ones I watched were far more basic, not caught up in the high density of social networking references, or hipsterness or whatever. And we couldn’t google them either, because at this stage the whole internet thing was pretty limited so if you wanted to find out about what happened with this person and that other guy, you had to wait and see.
Anyway, I figured I’d share my very favourite six shows with you. The ones that I still watch on YouTube because that’s the only place you can find them. If you had other favourites totally comment below, I’d love to share in the reflection with you.
So here’s my list.
Number One: Hey Arnold.
Who didn’t watch that show?
What I loved about Hey Arnold was that all the kids were so different. You had all these very unique personalities, and we got to peer into their lives and experience what something different might be like.
For a kid living in New Zealand, where life was pretty different to an inner city New York dwelling kid at some big school that didn’t even have a name, it had a number, it was a completely different life style.
You could totally get lost in it. Not to mention you absolutely were invested in what happened to these characters. Phoebe the geek, Harold when he tried to go on a diet and gave up eating ice creams… I cared about those characters.
I also remember when the movie came out, and my best friend Marisa and I were SO EXCITED! And basically gossiped about it for ages. (Were Helga and Arnold going to get together!?)
Number Two: Pepper Ann
My most vivid memory of this show was the episode where Pepper Ann (I think it was her?) had this key board that told her what notes to play and she became a super famous key board player.
Anyway, this show had something very special, and that very special thing was super good feels. Pepper Ann wasn’t fabulous or anything, she just lived a normal life, and had somewhat quirky friends who were also living pretty normal, suburban lives.
I remember there were little comics too, in the Disney Adventures Magazines (when I was able to buy them) and I would cut them out and cover my school books with them.
There is something quite genuinely appealing about the normality of Pepper Ann – even if that normality is wound up with suddenly becoming super famous with a cheaters key board.
Number Three: Doug
Like Pepper Ann, the appeal of Doug was how ordinary he was.
He lived a pretty straight forward life, alongside his quirky friends and his amusing dog, and super hipster-before-her-time-sister.
I loved his little fantasies with Quail Man and how hilarious his best friend Skeeter was.
Again, when the Doug movie came out, I went directly to the local video store and hired it and watched it probably twice before I returned it.
The characters in this show were actually surprisingly diverse. I mean alternative shows like to think they were diverse then, but I’d like to see them give Doug or Hey Arnold a run for their money!
Number Four: The Weekenders
I cannot even.
I just can’t.
I loved this show… like. Loved this show. And even now, it isn’t Christmas without watching the Christmas episodes of the Weekenders.
The pizza parlor that kept changing theme? The depiction of cool as shopping malls – far beyond what we have in New Zealand – Lor and her tribe of brothers, Tish and her super foreign parents, Tino who was just so funny and the guy you’d want to be your best friend and Carver – pineapple head, who could forget that episode!?
The Weekenders managed to capture the spirit of how a weekend feels. Freedom, having two days and a Friday night to have the best ever time of your life. I feel like I need this show even more now than I did at school.
It also captured a simpler time, when being a kid meant your life wasn’t this open book told on Facebook or whatever, and no one or nothing was constantly accessible.
I will ALWAYS love the Weekenders.
Number Five: Fillmore
Straight up… very recently there was a time I would watch an episode of Fillmore in my lunch break at work.
I adore Fillmore on a level that few shows can come close to.
It was so cool. Fillmore was like some kind of police show, but set in a School, where the police are actually Safety Patrol. They had to solve crimes – like tagging, or stealing cafeteria ice cream – all the while under the thumb of a very grumpy Principal.
Fillmore was a very complex show, the characters were equally complex. Ingrid was a super sassy girl before her time, who was smart and savvy. She was basically my hero.
Fillmore will forever be in a league of its own. Forever.
Number Six: Recess – who could forget.
Like Fillmore, this weird social structure within a normal school was so cool.
King Bob, sitting a-top his play ground, the Ashleys, Randal, the pre schoolers… SO many memories of this show and its quirky little characters, never mind the main cast!
I am pretty sure everyone loved Recess
So those are them.
My top six shows that I adored watching as a kid. I could go on and on… there were so many excellent shows in the 90s/early 2000s, and as I said above, comment some of your favourites too and we can reflect together!