I was born on January 1st, 1990, and turned ten years old on the first day of the new millennium; everything pure and innocent in my life happened between 1990 and 2000. In my opinion, this makes me the ultimate 90's kid, and the ideal candidate to discuss 90s cartoons. If you were a 90s kid, you had to pick a side: Disney or Nickelodeon. I was far and away a Nickelodeon advocate and, actually, I still am. Now, I don”t know the first thing about Nick cartoons today, but I can tell you that without a doubt that “Hey Arnold” is the best Nickelodeon cartoon there was and will ever be.
Here are five things that make “Hey Arnold” the best cartoon of all time:
1.Helga and her emotions
Helga Pitaki is an unstable little girl with an all-consuming crush on Arnold. This is fourth grade, so of course she suppresses her feelings and veils them in loathing and violence. At six-years-old, this taught me about the complexities of love, and basically scared me away from the whole thing entirely. The shrine she builds to Arnold made out of chewing gum is truly priceless, but if it were for sale I would find a price.
2. Grandpa and Grandma
Arnold lives in a boarding house with his wisecracking grandma and grandpa. Grandpa is well into his nineties but bursting with youth. In one episode he even sneaks into an R-rated movie. Arnold has to remind him that he”s more than old enough to see R-rated movies, but that doesn”t stop grandpa from taking the rebel route. Grandma is also super old, but can pull off a black turtleneck better than Kate Moss. Grandma puts on her turtleneck whenever she”s out to save the day: once to rescue Arnold and his friends from a broken-down subway train, and once to help Arnold break into an aquarium.
3. The Boarding House and Arnold”s room
This boarding house is SO WEIRD! Arnold”s grandparents own it and rent rooms to a bunch of misfits including: Oskar (a lazy con-artist), Ernie (an angry demolitionist), Mr. Huynh (a Vietnamese immigrant working at a Mexican restaurant), and Mr. Smith (who is never seen). Arnold has a room upstairs that is beyond dope. The room is remote control operated, psychedelically decorated, and the epitome of coolness to kids everywhere.
4. Arnold and his head
Arnold is an easily confused, overly adventurous, morally ambitious kid with a head shaped like a football. Do I need to say more? He was dope and his life was kind of scary, the coolest cartoon star around.
5. Darkness inappropriate for children
Maybe I was a sensitive kid, but there was a fairly dark undercurrent running through this show. Arnold”s parents are dead and no one knows how they died, one time Arnold and Gerald encounter drug dealers dressed up as fruits in a bad neighborhood, there is a child throughout the show who craves chocolate like it”s crack. That sort of thing. Some more dark characters and moments: Bird Man lives on a roof training pigeons, afraid to show his face to society. One time Arnold breaks into an aquarium to free a turtle who is being abused. This show was never all fun and games, but I loved every minute of it.
So, if you haven”t seen “Hey Arnold” yet, I”m very sad for you. Luckily, it”s all on out there online, so you can start turning your life around today! To be 100% honest I still watch this show from time to time, it”s a nice reminder that people all over the world are big weirdos with big hearts.