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10 thoughts about popular 90s kids shows we desperately need to unpack.

Honestly, how did we sleep in the 90s when the vast majority of our favourite shows had…extremely dark erring on hellish undertones?

If you’re anything like me, the characters of our youth have remained lurking in the depths of our minds for years, and it’s finally time to talk about them. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.

Look, for a huge chunk of my adult life I’ve grappled with unsettling flashbacks of hideous beasts and bizarre storylines that have shaken me to my very soul.

Sometimes, when the haunting images come to me amid a cold sweat in the middle of night I think to myself: “Surely that wasn’t real. That must be a recurring vivid nightmare I cooked up as a child. There’s no way THAT was on television.”

But no.

It was real.

It happened.

We did watch an alien with a face like a vulva when we came home from school.

…We also watched vegetables arrange themselves into different shapes with a backing track of remixed opera music for some reason (seriously, was LSD the coffee of the 90s?)

But hey, we’re all in this together, and in the interest of trying to figure out how we ended up the way we did (hello millennials, I’m talking to you), we think it’s important to go right to the core.

The core of ABC Kids weeknight watching.

Here are 10 thoughts we have about our favourite 90s kids shows – from the fascinating, to the downright messed up.

LIFT OFF

This feels like a good place to start.

Okay, so this show – in case you forgot, featured EC; a filthy puppet with magical powers and no face.

No…face.

Yes – our parents plonked us in front of the TV after school to be entertained by this utterly nightmarish demon creature:

NO THANKS.
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I repeat: NO. THANKS.

Let that sink in.

ROUND THE TWIST

No kids program will ever beat Round the Twist.

It was the best and that is final.

If you liked any other program better, guess what? You were wrong.

But can we all take a moment to remember the season three episode, Whirling Derfish, where Bronson's penis turned into a fish?

Okay, more accurately: a fish somehow made its way up/inside Bronson's penis and it helped him win the school swimming contest.

THIS IS A REAL STORYLINE WE WATCHED ON TELEVISION IN OUR YOUTH, PEOPLE.

Other episodes of note:

When an ice cream machine magically turned into a human male who could eject ice cream from his nose. Naturally, Linda fell in love with the snotty ice cream guy.

The time a water spirit helped Bronson wee over a big wall and win a pissing competition ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The time siblings Linda and Pete pashed on because Pete had a magic lipstick that made all the girls want to kiss him.

Ahh, Round the Twist. We miss you, but also WTF?

ROCKO'S MODERN LIFE

This was less terrifying for the subject matter, and more terrifying for how accurate a glimpse it was into our adult lives.

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Hear me out (you are about to relate to Rocko so hard it will scare you):

Rocko's Modern Life is all about a talking cartoon wallaby trying to figure out how to adult...And he just can't.

Rocko deals with a scary boss, he goes on terrible dates, and he takes truly woeful jobs — like working as a phone sex operator. Yes, that was in one of the episodes (bless our innocent minds back then).

Rocko was the original millennial.

...And this was not appropriate pre-teen watching.

PLASMO

We watched a space vagina run around a rocket ship bullying two depressed orphan blobs.

We watched this, and we still turned out (marginally) okay.

Plasmo followed the story of Plasmo and Parsty - sad alien siblings searching for their parents.

They lived on a spaceship with several other eerie characters including Coredor, a self-proclaimed "intergalactic space mercenary" whose face haunts our dreams and whose voice sends a shiver down our spines.

Refresh your memory below (if you dare).

JOHNSON AND FRIENDS

I was today years old when I learned a fact about this program that has turned my life upside down.

Behold:

And I don't know about you, but I found the concept of the show very creepy.

You see, Johnson and his friends (adults in costumes, remember) were toys belonging to a boy named Michael, who we only ever saw asleep in his bed. They lived in his bedroom, but did not move or show any signs of life until he had fallen asleep.

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Yeah, nah, that's not okay with us.

Johnson pls take your friends and leave Michael's room, our televisions and our memories.

Be gone, creepy demon toys.
Johnson, you are banished.

AAAHH! REAL MONSTERS

Okay, so here's one to help us wash away the bad taste Johnson and his friends have left in our mouths.

This show was woke.

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Firstly, may we mention it had a very cool film noir aesthetic which we obviously couldn't appreciate as children.

And secondly: Oblina was the feminist icon we didn't even realise we had.

Oblina was the bad-ass upside down black and white candy cane (¯\_(ツ)_/¯). She was the star student at monster school, and the clear leader amongst her monster pals Ickis and Krumm.

Oblina appreciation society.

She was 90s girl power epitomised and she was also kinda...sexual. She was like a cartoon version of Samantha from Sex and the City

Oh, and she once scared a man so badly he developed an obsession with rice. Need we say more?

Some trivia: Aaahh! Real Monsters was made by the same creators of Rugrats, which we'll get to later.

MAGIC MOUNTAIN

There was just something deeply unsettling about how the lion in this show...moved.

Also the fact that its eyelids were always heavy.

And that it never seemed quite...all there.

It was creepy and we still don't really know why, although we definitely think it was intoxicated in some way.

(But the theme music was banging).

RUGRATS

Rugrats was arguably the most feminist, socially-conscious 90s cartoons ever.

Why?

Well:

-There were just as many female characters as there were male.

-The girls all had distinct personalities (Angelica Pickles was larger than life).

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-The mums were sharp, smart, powerful and all-out goals. (Betty, Phil and Lil's mum, even wore the female symbol emblazoned on her jumper. I mean, come on).

-It featured a single-parent family, an inter-racial family and a diverse cast.

-It was all about breaking gender roles. In one episode, the babies even question why boys wear pants and girls wear dresses, to which Phil exclaims, “If girls can wear anything they want, so can we!”

Yes, Rugrats, you can stay.

ARTHUR

We don't want to re-open old wounds, but we're still not completely over this.

Arthur Read was (obviously) an aardvark, but while we always enjoyed his wholesome adventures, there was one glaring problem with his character.

And it lay in the way he wore his earphones:

Mate, that's just not going to work.

As it turns out - he was doomed from the start. His entire family missed the memo that this is not how earphones were intended to be worn:

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Umm, did the show's creators think we were stupid?!

(Well...it did take us several years to pick up on this... so maybe they were right).

PIG'S BREAKFAST

This is one of those mind-lurkers I mentioned earlier.

I mean, LOOK:

NOPE.

I'm truly jealous if you have managed to block the visions of hideous giant aliens Grob and Meeba (who were also morning television hosts  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) screaming at children.

Nothing about this show was okay, but we gobbled it up anyway because the 90s was a weird time for us.

Let us all hold hands and rejoice for we made it through this terrifying, socially challenging and batsh*t television era together...And we might be better people for it.

Honorable mentions to Animorphs, Ship to Shore and The Secret World of Alex Mack: we haven't forgotten about you.

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