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How Cartoon Network has grown over the years

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 Powerpuff Girls was one of the most popular shows on CN during early 2000s

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.

Present day

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?

Why you should binge Rick and Morty this vacation

Nowadays TV shows get rated as either watchable or not watchable. Good and excellent ratings barely exist. Amid all of these, there’s Rick And Morty. A cartoon show that was supposed to be a nasty parody of Back To The Future. Instead, it ended up becoming a highly beloved TV show, because of its use of dark comedy and Sci-fi element and so on. Let’s take a look what makes this show binge-worthy.

It Is Stupendously DARK!

A show where the grandpa is a drunk jerk. Who treats his weak grandson like a lab rat. Disregards everyone else. Doesn’t hesitate to even kill a version of him from another dimension. And escaping into one with Morty where that universe’s Rick and Morty died and living there taking the dead one’s place. Need a minute to process? It’s okay, Rick and Morty tends to have that effect on people.

Also to quote Morty on life “Nobody Exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Come to watch TV”. If that’s not dark then I don’t know what is.

Loads of action!

Oh My, Rick! When I say loads of action, I mean LOADS OF ACTION. All of the thirty-one episodes are filled with action. Starting with episode one of the first season to the last episode of the third. Sometimes the action is mediocre. Sometimes Rick and Morty end up purging in a different planet in Ironman like armor. Then there was the time when Rick turned himself into a pickle to escape from family time. Ends up in the sewer accidentally, makes an exoskeleton and a jet pack out of dead rats (Yeah, you read that right) and makes his way back to his house. Crazy stuff.

Got the Sci-Fi Elements Right

It’s not every day you see a cartoon show pulling off two big scientific theories in one episode. Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about the very first episode of a season two, “A Rickle In Time”. This episode managed to pull off Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which states that you can’t exactly measure an object’s position and exact speed. Not even in theory. Then the famous Schrodinger’s Cat Theory. Not long after in the third episode of the same season. The show managed to pull off the concept of Collective Hivemind through an entity known as Unity. Unity was at a point Rick’s girlfriend.

The Characters are Planned

This is one of those shows which doesn’t randomly add characters. Each and every character is well thought of and serves their purpose really well. Now, the story itself is not that simple. A lot of things happen in a single episode. But each character’s role in every episode is well thought of.  Say, Evil Morty. We first see him in season one, at the end of the episode we knew he would come back as something greater. Then later on season three he later he takes over the whole citadel through careful planning. It’s like he planned this since his first appearance. But Evil Morty is no minor character. NoobNoob, on the other hand, is a minor character with four minutes of screen time at best. Yet the episode Vindicators 3: Return of Worldender ends up being his episode. At the end of the episode, an extremely drunk Rick is shown to have done everything he did, because of Noobnoob. Rick felt Noobnoob was really unappreciated and something should be done about it.

It is relatable to real life

What rick and morty gets right about this world

Rick and Morty has no hero. If you think about the philosophy behind all the major characters, Rick, Morty, Beth, Summer, and Jerry, they all are based on people with some really common problems.

Rick is a drunk old man. Who lost his wife and he bailed on his daughter. Later, he gets a second chance to do something good. But he can’t become a good example for his grandchildren and makes situations worse than they are supposed to be.

Morty is a not so popular fourteen years old. Who has an abusive grandpa and gets bullied at school.

Summer is a normal angsty teenager who is always stuck on her phone, taking videos of her dog. She cares for her family but finds their methods of interaction with her dysfunctional.

Beth and Jerry are husband and wife who are struggling with their marriage. Both love each other, yet they are extremely confused and fight a lot, which has an effect on the kids.

Wubbalubbadubdub!

What rick and morty gets right about this world

One of the best things about this show is Rick’s catchphrases. They are whacky, they are weird, they make no sense, and they are catchy. Period.

Rick and Morty just doesn’t add elements. The show also pulls off the added element in a systematic manner. Only a handful of shows can do that these days. And that is exactly why the world needs more shows like Rick and Morty. The show will soon return for a season 4 on Netflix. Don’t miss out!

Bojack Horseman doesn’t get a pass

Bojack Horseman has grown enough as a show to make statements on current social issues. It also lets on whether Bojack the character deserves any sympathy.

He isn’t a good guy, he isn’t a bad guy. He is just a guy, who occasionally does very shitty things. This time, he went far enough, and pushed enough people away, to realize that he needs help to get better.

During an understated moment, midway through the season, Bojack’s dad, Butterscotch, tells him how you cannot depend on people. The only person you can depend on is yourself. And even though Bojack’s mother wasn’t the best person to be around, she was a good mother for teaching her son that important lesson.

Bojack has learned not to depend on people. Yet, others liking him is what he wants. There is a massive discrepancy between what Bojack actually is and how he wants to be seen. That’s something he has to deal with in his latest TV show, Philbert because the main character is dark, noirish and does shitty things as well.

It didn’t have to be this way. Bojack was in a better place last season, by becoming a stable mentor for his half-sister, Hollyhock, and provided some comfort to his mother in a rare moment of clarity between bouts of dementia.

But Bojack doesn’t get to be normalized. He doesn’t get to say it’s okay to be broken, because it lets the viewers who are broken off the hook as well. Diane says it best when she says that, if Philbert the show makes it okay for assholes to normalize themselves and their behavior, then she didn’t want to be on the show anymore.

Being Woke Isn’t Enough

In this season, Bojack directly addresses the Me Too movement, and the progressive, SJW mindsets deriding sexual predators in Hollywood.

Being a man and speaking up against a Mel Gibson type means that Bojack gets applauded by an audience of chickens. However, when Bojack himself steers into the irredeemable territory by assaulting his girlfriend and costar, Gina, on set during a painkiller-induced haze, Gina refuses to let the potential controversy derail her burgeoning career. She refused to let Bojack be the biggest thing that ever happened to her. She wanted her work and her career to be her legacy.

Bojack begs Diane to destroy him by doing an expose because he wanted to be held accountable. But she wouldn’t because only Bojack could hold himself accountable. At this point, he isn’t a child, or even a young adult finding himself anymore. He is an adult in his mid-fifties. He needs to embrace the help that therapy, and later, rehab brings.

The show also takes a more comedic approach with the ascent of Henry Fondle, sex robot, to WhatTimeIsitRightNow.com’s CEO role, despite having no credentials whatsoever. He is taken down when a junior executive speaks out against his proclivities and the company’s female employees are, in turn, let go as it scales back its operations in response.

How to Change, and Let Others Change Too

Two major developments in this season include Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter going their separate ways, and Princess Carolyn trying to adopt a baby. Diane embraces the loneliness that divorce brings, in order to learn how to survive alone again. Mr. Peanutbutter, on the other hand, runs after the next shiny thing and immediately gets into another relationship with another impressionable twenty years old, Pickles Aplenty.

Mr. Peanutbutter tries, alternatively, to be tougher and to grow up beyond dating twenty-somethings that leave him as they mature into more fully-formed beings. He tries to be the mature one for once and break it off with Pickles before things get too serious. But he relents and asks her hand in marriage instead.

Princess Carolyn, on the other hand, finally manages to adopt a baby by the end of the season, even though she hasn’t fully made peace with the fact that she is still bullshitting her way into getting what she wants without fully realizing the consequences. She may not be ready to give up career momentum to spend enough time with her baby to raise and nurture her. As Bojack says in the season’s standout sixth episode, you have to do the hard work of getting better every day, and that’s harder than it sounds.

Everything is Worse Now

This season does a great job in handling grief, as always, in two episodes. The first deals with Diane’s divorce as she tries to find herself in Vietnam, and the second deals with Bojack giving a eulogy for his mother, Beatrice.

I talked a little bit about Diane’s sojourn in an earlier article. It’s a sweet, heartfelt reflection on learning to lead a solitary life after being together with someone for a long, long time. But it’s the sixth episode, Free Churro, that elevates Bojack Horseman to masterclass status.

He breaks down several times as he alternates between his hatred for his mother, and his vain attempts to reconnect with her over the years. He agonizes over the idea that her last words to him were ‘I see you’ and he never would have the chance to make things right with her again, or even with his father, who had passed away years earlier. Beatrice had delivered Butterscotch’s eulogy, and said, ‘My husband is dead, and everything is worse now’. And Bojack couldn’t help but echo the sentiment when he said ‘my mother is dead, and everything is worse now’.

Escapist Fantasy

What humanizes Beatrice, however, is that even though she spent a lifetime mostly drowning, there were moments, such as the times she went to a ball, that she would take flight in dance. And what humanized Butterscotch, was that he still forgave her when he remembered how he felt when he first saw her and realized that she was trying her best to do what she could, given her circumstances.

The show addresses the escapist nature of entertainment in this episode, too, when Bojack says that he watched the whole series of Becker because he hoped that his relationship with his mother would get better. That he would perform grand gestures and that would make everything okay. But he needed to be dependably good, without screwing up, and for a person like him, that was very, very hard.

Is Bojack Supposed to Get Better?

At this point, it’s hard to tell. In the third season, Bojack stopped himself while hovering on the brink of suicide after losing Sarah Lynn. In the fourth season, he seemed to accept the vagaries of adulthood and parenthood to varying degrees. He isn’t a bad person, per se, in the fifth season. Bojack is happy for his girlfriend and even goes beyond his normal grand gestures. He even steals the D sign from Hollywood in the first season. But he ends up doing shitty things regardless and ultimately hits a giant reset button when his show gets canned.

Bojack’s fifth season is great, but overall, it’s perhaps the third-best season of the show. It’s still hard to top the highs of season three. Season four stands out simply by the virtue of being uplifting and mature. It makes for a different narrative considering the series is mired in ugliness and depression. The fifth season drags most major characters through their paces, forcing them to confront major flaws and daring them to get better. Todd gets an interesting story too, but he doesn’t stand out as much when he doesn’t play off the main cast.

I can’t help but mirror Diane’s exhaustion and relief as she drives off into a tunnel after dropping Bojack off at rehab. Despite everything Bojack did to her and to others, he is still her best friend, and she cares for him. She hopes, as do we, that he gets better. But he probably won’t.

What do I want (to see)?

I sincerely hope that Bojack doesn’t waste away at a retirement home like his mother did, or die of an overdose as Sarah Lynn did. There might not be recourse left when it’s all said and done at the rate he is burning through people in his life.
It still makes for great television, of course. And I will be there, next year, like everyone else, to see Bojack get into another trainwreck when he gets out of rehab.

Why everyone should watch anime

Remember when you were a kid and you used to wait for Pokemon and Digimon to come up on Toonami? You didn’t know back then, but these were “anime” and not cartoons. The basic difference? Cartoons usually do not have a story stream, while animes do. Each anime is based on a distinct plot, where you can find everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. But these are weeb materials, right? Cool people don’t watch animes, right?

Well, let me give you a few reasons why one should watch anime. You can decide for yourself whether animes are cool or not.

1. Curiosity

Don’t you want to know what the hype is all about? Does it not confuse you why so many people all over the world wept with nostalgia and sadness when Naruto came to an end? Do you really not want to know why people get hooked to these hand drawn pictures? If you are the human version of a cat, then let your curiosity get the best of you. It will NOT kill you, and you will get introduced to a world so vast, so endless that you will wish you could just stay there.

2. There’s something for everyone.

It doesn’t matter if you like horror, rom-coms, fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, tragedy- any genre you can name will have at least one masterpiece in it. You like short series that consumes less time? We’ve got you covered. You like to commit yourself to a show for years? We’ve got you covered on that too. You would like things to get a little heated along the way? We definitely have you covered. It’s simply impossible to not find what you’re looking for in the anime universe. If you’re still having trouble, ask me or anyone else.

3. The music.

If you have the ability to enjoy music despite not knowing the language, then you will definitely like the anime themes. I do not know Japanese at all, and I can sing the opening theme of “Your lie in April” without missing a single word. Just imagine how catchy a song has to be to get people to relate to it on that level. And it’s not just the upbeat, catchy music that grabs your heart. Try listening to “one more time, one more chance” from 5 centimetres per second. Turn the subtitle on, and if it doesn’t tug on your heartstrings, then you are made of stone, my friend.

4. Because of unadulterated entertainment.

It’s often hard to get into a few branches of art because you simply do not understand what the artist is trying to express. You don’t have to suffer through that in anime. Most animes are pretty straightforward, with predictable storylines and a few twists here and there. There are animes that require a higher level of concentration and thinking, just don’t start with those if you’re not up for it. You can start with a lighthearted series like “Barakamon” or “Usagi Drop” and slowly move onto “Steins Gate” and “Mirai Nikki”.

5. And it will leave you awed. Every time.

Starting from harmless magic to people killing each other for game points- each anime has a distinct flavor. Once you get into it, you will find masterpieces that nobody talks about. Tatami galaxy- for example. This beautifully sarcastic, slightly confusing, funny and agitating anime is not very well known. But once you get the hang of it, you will understand just how brilliant the entire work is.

I understand that there are many sub-par animes and it’s not always lucrative because everything is hand drawn. But once you get past that prejudice, you will see that art should have no distinct form of expression, and anime is just one of many. It has also been doing its job brilliantly.
So go ahead, my friend. Pick a series and start watching it. A world full of surprises is waiting for you.