There’s no denying that Cartoon Network has been the cornerstone of our childhood. It was that one TV channel many of us couldn’t wait to watch.
The current generation might argue it’s just another entertainment channel for children. But for millennials, shows like Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Ed ,Edd n Eddy were an endless source of laughter and joy. It was like having a surrogate sibling. It helped us find common interests, nurture friendships, create bonds and bring out a smile after a really bad day.
But is today’s Cartoon Network the same one as we grew up with?
The days gone
When Cartoon Network debuted in 1992 it didn’t produce much original programming. Its early success came from classic Hanna-Barbera shows like Tom and Jerry, The Flinstones, The Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo and others.
But once the network attracted mainstream attention, it started to produce its own original content. And each of these had its own distinct flavor.
Shows like Captain Planet and Space Ghost Coast to Coast were not only breakout hits for kids. They appealed to older audiences as well – teenagers and adults alike.
The success of these programs clarified that there was a market beyond the demographic CN were catering to.
The limelight : Early 2000s
At the height of its success in the late 90s to the early 2000s, Cartoon Network gained tremendous exposure. So much so that it became popular across the globe. More so than its rival networks of the time like Nickelodeon.
The early 2000’s marked a change in style and tone of the network. In an effort to adapt to the growing demographic and changing tastes, Cartoon Network revamped its look. It introduced an edgier format with animated series like Samurai Jack, Megas XLR and Justice League being the most prominent.
The mature writing and “larger-than-life” storytelling in these show turned out to be a ratings boost for the network . Writers and animators drew inspiration from real-life events to express their creativity.
Mid 2000s and beyond
When 3-D animation started trending in the mid-2000s Cartoon Network also began producing content in the same visual style.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was one of the major hits. Not just for Cartoon Network but also Lucas films. It revived interest for hardcore Star Wars fan and made the seemingly dying franchise relevant again in popular culture.
By the latter half of the 2010s decade Cartoon Network once again refreshed its look. This manifested with new bumpers, graphics, sounds and an overall vibrant presentation.
The new look reflected the change in demographic as Cartoon Network went back to basics. It started producing shows that were more kid-friendly in nature. There was reduced focus on mature themes found in previous programming.
Now flash-forward to 2018 and onward. Cartoon Network continues to keep its target audience entertained with a variety of content suitable for children.
The era that most of us grew up with is now a thing of the past. But the spirit and nostalgic memories of our childhood favorites can still be found in today’s cartoons. Although it might not evoke the same feelings for everyone.
It may feel like Cartoon Network has moved on from us to the next generation. But has Cartoon Network grown too fast for us or have we grown too fast to appreciate Cartoon Network?