Are You Afraid Of The Dark LiveBlog: ‘The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost’ – Neglected Child Haircuts

We’re on Day 2 of Big Orange Couch Week – live blogging shows from the classic SNICK lineup – and let’s hope that couch has a nite lite nearby because things are about to get spoooooky. Today I’m rewatching one of the best-loved episodes of Are You Afraid of The Dark, the one where we learn the important lesson that you should never befriend the quiet, neglected-looking girl next door because she’s probably a ghost. Submitted for the approval of Cookies + Sangria, I present…

Episode Title: The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost

Air Date: August 26, 1992

A girl who desperately wants to be friends with her snotty cousin and her group of friends agrees to spend the night in the haunted house next door to become part of the group.

snick_ayaotd

Hit play!

0:02 I remember getting so spooked out by the music and title sequence of this show as a kid- along with Unsolved Mysteries and The Twilight Zone – that I was terrified before the action even started.

And when I say “as a kid,” know that I am watching this episode on my lunch break at work so I don’t have to watch it alone in my 100-year-old house.

0:55 Have we ever established that Are You Afraid Of The Dark is set in Canada? Because the kids were always so CANADIAN. First of all, David says “sore-y.” And more Canadianly, he is apologizing because a girl bumped into him.

1:27 They made the kid with curly hair get a center-parted undercut hairdo, and he looks like a damn Newsie. But I just looked him up (Jacob Tierney) and if he looks like a Newsie these days, it’s one of those cute older Christian Bale-type ones where you’re, like, pretty sure he’s of age so it’s fine.Transformation Tuesday, y’all.

Then.

NOW.

1:38 Sorry Count: #2. Ugh, this part where they all talk in the beginning is still boring 23 years later. You’re the Midnight Society, not the Chit-Chat Club. And yes, “23 years later” will almost certainly be the scariest part of this live blog.

3:09 Like most Are You Afraid Of The Dark eps, this one begins with a girl arriving at a new town, this time because her parents are scientists who are “up north studying Inuit carvings.” This is more Canadian than Anne Of Green Gables host Hockey Night In Canada.

Amanda is an adorable young lady wearing a gigantic blousy shirt tucked into even bigger khakis with mid-butt-length hair. Yeah, put that in your tumblr and smoke it, “90s fashion bloggers.”AYAOTD Amanda

4:41 There’s an abandoned house next door that Amanda’s realtor aunt cannot sell, and you can tell that it’s haunted because the For Sale sign keeps falling over and it’s made of spooky natural wood.

5:11 Beth, Amanda’s cousin, looks like every bitchy teenage girl in the early 90s. The spikier the bangs, the bigger the attitude.AYAOTD Beth

6:17 Amanda has to prove she’s “not a zeeb” (was nerd, dork, or geek not on the Nickelodeon-approved vocab list?), but then one of Beth’s ground rules is that Amanda has to put Beth’s stuffed animal collection back every day. Were stuffed animals cool for teens in 1992? I almost think yes. Like, Troll Dolls and Pillow People were big.

7:43 A disheveled woman introduces herself to Amanda as Nanny. I smell a plot point coming! She’s not even particularly old, just hunchy with bad hair. Plus what teenager has a nanny? Beth agrees.

9:41 Nanny hears Beth and Beth’s Realtor Mom talking about her, and maybe this is the scariest part of the show. Anyone else out there just terrified of overhearing people talk about them?

10:31 Backstory: A little girl who couldn’t talk lived in the haunted natural-wood house. The girl was supposed to stay with her grandmother when her mom went away, but got locked into her bedroom by some mean kids and died there. I have questions. Beth says the girl’s mom was gone for two weeks because her husband was sick, and her grandmother didn’t know she was supposed to be coming. But even in the 1940s or whatever (Beth says “the war”), wouldn’t the mom have made a single call to make sure that the grandma would be home or that the kid got there safely? Especially since the child is speech or hearing impaired?

Anyway, Amanda has to go to the little girl’s death room so that she can be friends with Beth and Beth’s shitty friends. Which … why would she want to?

14:01 The words Help Me are scrawled backwards on the walls of the house. Hey Beth’s Realtor Mom, I, uh, think I know why the house isn’t selling.

14:36 A little girl wearing a white nightgown with a grown-out mullet bowlcut – the haircut of an unloved child – appears in the mirror and beckons to Amanda. So this is the dead girl, I assume, but why the nightgown? After she got locked in she was just like “ho, hum, better go change into these jammies to die in?”

AYAOTD hair

AYAOTD jammies

15:00 Amanda’s “Running Away From A Ghost” music is twinkly jazz piano.

15:55 Beth’s Realtor Mom makes the girls clean Help Me off the walls as a punishment after Amanda rats out her cousin. Amanda wears 2015-approved overalls. No… wait. It’s like an overall dress?

17:30 A mirage of the room filled with dolls and stuffed animals appears in the mirror, and instead of freaking out about the time and space-ness of it all, Beth just gawks at the “awesome collection.” I still don’t think the titles Head Bitch and Teenaged Doll Collector really go together.

17:55 Beth goes through the mirror and the Neglected Bowlcut Girl comes out. Win some/lose some, eh? All the kid wants to do is give Amanda a locket. Why would anyone give their child a locket? It only means they’re going to get orphaned or become a ghost. Never ends well. Anyway, Nanny’s picture is in the locket. SHOCKING.

19:22 They’re overall shorts. Shortalls.

So that’s one mystery solved, but we’re still not going to learn why the child can’t talk, are we?

20:17 Amanda gives Nanny the other half of the locket. What happens to missing or neglected children who DON’T have a half locket?

21:24 Nanny went through the mirror. Is she… dead now? Neglected Bowlcut Girl is now wearing day clothes and her hair is better.

22:17 Beth’s friends are all in the haunted house, which they refused to go in before, and are all casual about their bitchy friend being stuck in a mirror. But then Amanda opens the closet door and Beth falls out, and they’re all going to be friends all summer! Everything’s great for everyone! Except Neglected Bowlcut Girl who got bullied to death.AYAOTD RIP

23:31 David gives Kristin ( a pre- Clueless Rachel Blanchard) a locket for her birthday. Great, David. Now she’s going to get kidnapped or orphaned.

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My Fantasy Comic-Con

Nerds unite! San Diego’s annual Comic-Con kicks off today, and thousands of folks are swarming the city to talk comic books, graphic novels, TV shows, TV shows based on comic books, movies, movies based on comic books and more. I personally am not one to enjoy big crowds and waiting in line for hours, so I don’t get the appeal. Ironically, I am in San Diego on a visit for pleasure, and am an idiot for picking the one week to go to SD when lit’rally everyone else is here. But that’s besides the point.

If Comic-Con was smaller and involved more things I liked, I would totally be for it. So if you’re waiting in line for whatever is in Hall H right now, take a minute to read my ideal line-up for a personalized Comic-Con, because let’s face it, you’re gonna be there for a while anyways, so why not read our blog?!

Orphan Black

I know there’s already going to be a bunch of OB events throughout the weekend, but what if there was one panel that was just Tatiana Maslany, and she would pretend to be everyone. Including all the clones and her fellow cast members. This might not be physically possible, but it is Comic-Con, everyone has an imagination there, right?

HBIC

Every year, Entertainment Weekly holds a Women Who Kick Ass panel, featuring ladies who do a particularly good job of showing people who’s boss with their physical and mental prowess. Similarly, I propose a HBIC panel (that’s Head Bitch In Charge for you plebs), expanding the list of women who not only kick ass in entertainment, but who also exude qualities of great leadership, a positive role model, and is an all-around BO$$. Panelists include, but are not limited to: Emma Watson, Tatiana Maslany, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Poehler, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling.

Sizzling Superheroes

Like Magic Mike, but of the superhero world. Including Chris Pratt, Michael B. Jordan, RDJ, Chris Evans, basically all the Avengers.

Heroes Season 1

Remember how good Heroes was? Specifically the first season? I’m not particularly attracted to sci-fi shows until a bunch of other people tell me to watch it. However, Heroes had the added value of Milo Ventimiglia being in it, of course from Gilmore Girls fame. I quickly became one of the millions of other viewers who became obsessed with the show and even managed to stay with it until the end, despite basically hate-watching it. If the cast of the first season could just come together and talk about that and maybe the WGA Strike second season, that would be ideal.

Teen Witch

I watched this 1989 classic for the first time a couple years ago, and I fell in love with it. It captures the essence of the ridiculous fashion sense of the time, the corniness of teen romances, and there’s also a horrible/amazing rap scene. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and get acquainted with it. But in a nutshell Louise (Robyn Lively/Blake’s older sister) turns 16 and gets magical powers, and has to decide if she wants to use them for good. It’s been just over 25 years since the movie came out, and it’s been a cult hit ever since. I don’t necessarily need a sequel, I just want to see what these folks think of its popularity all these years later.

Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies was a short-lived, three-season show that found a cult following, but not big enough for it to stay on the air. It was romantic, critically acclaimed, well acted, and unique, perhaps so much so that it was too high-concept for the viewers at ABC and middle-America to follow. The main plot is that pie-maker Ned (the wonderful Lee Pace) has the ability to bring things and people back to life with his touch. It definitely falls under the Cancelled Too Soon category, and perhaps bringing the cast back together can muster up some sort of Netflix mini-series event?

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I’m not gonna lie to y’all – Are You Afraid of the Dark? actually managed to scare me. I played it off when I was talking about it in school, but in reality, I could basically only watch the campsite scenes and parts of the ‘reenactments’. What’s impressive about the show is that it’s been a pop culture staple in many millennials’ lives, whether you were frightened or not, and because we tend to forget details as children, many of us may not know that there were a lot of now-stars to get their start on the show. People like Elisha Cuthbert, JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Vanessa Lengies and Clueless TV star Rachel Blanchard were all in the Midnight Society, while guest stars included Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell, Hayden Christensen, Jay Baruchel and Emily VanCamp. Let’s get all those folks together with a fire and some sand, shall we?

The Event

watermarks be damned – this pic still makes my brain explode

Did I watch this show because our best friend Scott Patterson was in it? Yes. Was it weird to me that two of Lauren Graham’s former onscreen gentleman callers (Scott/Luke and Jason Ritter/Mr. Cyr from Parenthood)? Yes. Do I want this to be a panel at comic-Con just so they can explain to me the plot of the show? Also yes.

Early Edition

Coach Taylor before he was Coach Taylor, when most of the masses were introduced to the extreme talent that is Kyle Chandler. This was one of the shows I probably was a little too young to watch, but luckily for CBS, the only things I really remember about the show are Kyle Chandler getting the newspaper a day early, the blind woman, and a cat. Plus, any excuse to be in the presence of Kyle Chandler is worth it. PS – you can watch full episodes on the YouTube!

Community

Because #SixSeasonsAndAMovieAndAComicConPanel

Pretty Little Liars

Stop fucking around and just get to who Charles/-A is and WHY and HOW he is tormenting these high schoolers.

(After) Life Lessons From ‘Are You Afraid Of The Dark?’

Like wielding a Nerf Super Soaker or running in Moon Shoes, Are You Afraid of the Dark? was an opportunity for 90s kids to show their mettle. Some of us, like me and my buddy Nikki, even used to watch it with the lights off. Without fail, one of my older brothers would ask what we were watching. “Are You Afraid Of The Dark?”, I’d answer. “I’m not, are YOU?,”” the brother would ask. I fell into that trap every time. Then things would get real Who’s On First-y, as tired a gag in 1992 as it was in 1952. The show would come on, and by the end of the half hour, we’d felt like we’d really survived something – and not just good-natured sibling ribbing.

But we weren’t just watching slightly-spooky SNICK fare, we were learning. Some books and movies teach you how to be alive (The Fault In Our Stars, anyone?), but Are You Afraid Of The Dark? taught us how to be, and be with, the undead.

If you’re ready for some ghostly fun, hyperlinks take you to the episodes in question – until they disappear! SPOOOOKY. (OK, actually I just think they’ll be pulled from YouTube at some point)

If A New Family Comes To Town, They Are Not Living People

New neighbors? Do not greet them warmly and make them feel welcome in your community. That’s the lesson I learned from this children’s show. If you have new neighbors, they are probably vampires. Mom has a new boyfriend? Best case scenario, some strange man is banging your mom now. Worst case scenario: watch out on the next full moon, because your new dad is a werewolf.

If You Are New To Town, Something Horrible Will Happen To You

Getting used to a new town, switching schools, making new friends – these are real concerns for kids who move. But in the 90s, Nickelodeon didn’t coddle kids by telling them that everything was going to be just fine and they’d feel at home in no time. That’s some Highlights For Children nonsense. No, Are You Afraid Of The Dark? confirmed every child’s fears about moving. Bad things will happen. It IS the end of the world. The house next door has the ghost of a deaf girl writing backwards on the walls. Your aunt’s jacket will turn you into a ghost. Aunt’s houses are the most haunted – there is probably also the ghost of a little boy who froze to death hanging around. Your new basement doesn’t just have weird slugs after rainstorms, it also harbors an evil creature that’s into music boxes. You may nearly burn down your new home in a fever-dream. And when you make friends with the neighborhood kids, they’ll lead you in a game of Hide And Seek where the only thing you find is an uneasy encounter with human mortality. Bet Highlights For Children didn’t teach you that one.

You SHOULD Be Worried About Starting High School. High Schools Are Full Of 1950s Ghosts

It can be scary going from being the big fish in Middle School to being the small fish being haunted by a larger ghost fish in high school. Finding a prom dress is nothing when you could easily end up finding a 1950s prom ghost instead. Or hey, maybe your school ghost is a far-out 1960s hippie who died in a chem lab explosion. Could your school ghost be a sea-beast who lives in the swimming pool? Or maybe, just maybe, the school ghost is YOU and you just don’t know you’re dead yet.

Sidenote: Our “high school ghost” was some turn-of-the-century biddy named Victoria who coincidentally only hung around the theater department — you know, the area with all the super-dramatic kids who love making up grandiose stories to impress each other? There were some spooky parts of the theater, but that’s not because of ghosts, it’s because the costume room was a long-abandoned priest’s apartment with a creepy free-standing abandoned sink still in there, up a rickety flight of stairs on stage left. I’m not saying Victoria wasn’t real, because saying ghosts aren’t real is what makes them haunt you super hard, I’m just saying that my sister was involved in theater, is eight years older than me, and never had heard of her. Also the ghost’s “backstory” was, I’m pretty sure, lifted verbatim from a Fear Street novel.

Children’s Toys Will Hurt You

So far we’ve covered how terrible things will happen to children who move, have people move near them (so basically, children who live in houses), and go to school. What’s a kid to do, sit idly and play with toys? NOPE. Only if you want to play with the supernatural as well.

Dollhouses are obviously haunted, everyone knows that, but in Are You Afraid Of The Dark? we learned that they can also imprison you in permanent doll form, like a Toddlers And Tiaras contestant without all the Mountain Dew. Pinball machines can come to life. If a toy company opens in your apartment building, the only thing they’re really selling there is doom and horror. You may as well just go to summer camp, right? Yeah, there are dead Edwardian children trapped in the woods. I’d say that kids should just read books instead, but I think we all know that books can come to life or trap you inside their very pages.

Bedraggled Children Are Creepy

It’s every kid for herself out there, so if you come across a homely, poor, or otherwise unfortunate child, IT’S A TRAP. Do NOT befriend them. I know your feelings will tell you otherwise, but feelings are just nature’s way of letting the weak get killed off by little girl ghosts. If the urchin next door has a shaggy, grown-out bowlcut, the haircut of an unloved child, obviously she was locked in a vacant house a half-century ago. The lonely kid with the bicycle is your childhood friend who you couldn’t save from drowning. And it goes for adults, too. The old lady who lives alone in a cottage isn’t a retiree whose kids live out of state, she’s a witch with a stash of shrunken monkey claws that she’s going to curse you with.

Sweet dreams, children. Everything you’ve been taught about school, friendship, and your community was a lie. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

90s Nickelodeon Shows – And Today’s Adult Equivalents

Buzzfeed, Tumblr, and your Facebook friends won’t let you forget it, and neither will we: 90s kids are adults now, and we’re all still really, really passionate about the 90s. Can you blame us? The 90s were a great time for kids’ culture. With so many Baby Boomers having children from the late 70s to the mid-90s, there were a lot of us growing up then. The economy hadn’t tanked yet, and 911 was still just an emergency phone number. Nickelodeon was at the forefront of it all, promoting a “pro-kid” culture and presenting kids as cooler and smarter than adults. If people want to blame Millenials for forming a mass internet-culture that older folks can’t penetrate, it all started with Nickelodeon and its ‘us against them’ attitudes.

Today’s TV networks aren’t stupid. They know what Millenials want. That’s why, for every beloved Nickelodeon show from our youth, there is an adult equivalent on the air right now:

Are You Afraid Of The Dark = American Horror Story

Are You Afraid Of The Dark: From the second you heard those creaky swings and eerie theme music, you knew you were in for a scare. The midnight society gathered every week to tell stories and throw some sort of weird sand into a camp fire, and we were right there with them. I watched every week as a five-year-old, even turning off the lights for an extra scare. We liked this show because it didn’t underestimate kids. There were real ghosts, vampires, and murders in Are You Afraid of the Dark – it wasn’t that weak-sauce kid stuff where the creaking in the attic was just a leaky pipe, or the ‘ghost’ was just a beekeeper in a bonnet (I’m looking at you, The Adventures Of Mary Kate And Ashley). If you didn’t love the story one week, you’d just wait until the next Saturday when you’d get a whole new plotline to scare the pants off of you and make you ask your mom if she will let you sleep with the hall light on. That’s right – a children’s horror anthology series. Can you really blame us for missing the 90s?

American Horror Story: Like Are You Afraid Of The Dark, American Horror Story is a spooky anthology. However, to account for adult attention spans, each season tells a different story, instead of each episode. This show touches on all aspects of the horror film genre – psycho killers, ghosts, aliens, nuns, evil doctors, Anne Frank, witches, a pinhead, The Black Dahlia … it’s like a winning hand of Apples To Apples.

An aside: I just finished watching Season 2 of AHS. Somebody told me to start with that one because Coven isn’t on Netflix yet, and Season 1 would scare me more. Now that I’m done, I have to wonder – if Asylum was this freaky, what the hell could possibly happen in Murder House? Don’t worry, I’m starting it this week, because I’m an adult now and I’m in charge of my own hall light.

Clarissa Explains It All = Girls + The New Girl

Clarissa Explains It All:A young woman with ambitions of being a journalist lives in a cooler bedroom than you can imagine having. She is supported by her academic parents. She has constant fallings-out with her brother Ferguson, and the undying support of her buddy Sam. She dresses like a cool hobo. Lots of tights. Clarissa has a creative solution to every problem and gets into a lot of scrapes because she sort of doesn’t think everything through.

Girls: A young woman with ambitions of being a writer lives in a cooler apartment than you can imagine having. She is supported by her academic parents. She has constant fallings out with her friends, yet somehow retains their constant support. She dresses like a cool hobo.

The New Girl:  It’s almost like Jess Day and Hannah Horvath are two different versions of how Clarissa could have turned out. Jess and Clarissa have a lot in common. The first word you’d use to describe them is “quirky.” They have wacky clothes. They have a cool home. And – unlike Hannah Horvath – they both have fun, sunny attitudes toward life. So, if Clarissa went to college, became an el-ed major, and held onto her obsession with tights, you have Jess. If Clarissa decided to become a hipster in college, started writing for the school literary mag and reading a lot of McSweeney’s, and went to slightly seedier college parties, she graduated and became Hannah.

Salute Your Shorts = Community

Salute Your Shorts: A group of teens are thrown together for summer camp, and form all of the bonds and rivalries that you’d expect in that kind of close situation. They work both with and against the camp’s administration (counselor Ugg) and truly become a community of their own. There are even themed genre episodes – Zeke The Plumber, everyone? The characters are surprisingly well-developed for a kids’ show, with the jock, nerd, and popular girl presented as being complex people instead of just stereotypes.

Community: A group of adults are thrown together in community college, and through forming a study group, they become a… well, community of their own as well. Like in Salute Your Shorts, there is a love for Greendale Community College, but just like the kids at Camp Anawanna, they also have to work against it sometimes. I don’t think I even need to tell you about the genre episodes. Character development is a big deal on this show, too, and the former athlete and the brainy liberal arts girl aren’t just two-dimensional.

Hey Dude = Brooklyn Nine Nine

Hey Dude: Somehow, a bunch of teenagers are working at a Dude Ranch, because… why not, I suppose? It filled pretty much the exact same niche as Salute Your Shorts, except these kids had JOBS and RESPONSIBILITIES and HORSES. Never underestimate the pull of horses for tween girl viewers.

Brooklyn Nine Nine: This is one sitcom you should be watching if you aren’t already. Equal parts buddy cop (with multiple pairs of cop-buddies), workplace comedy, police procedural (er… kind of) – but with really clever writing an an awesome cast. Like Hey Dude, this is a funny ensemble show that actually shows people doing their jobs. Every kid who grew up watching Salute Your Shorts thinking “ugh, somebody get those irresponsible kids some stalls to muck or cows to lasso” should watch Brooklyn Nine Nine, a workplace show where people actually work.

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete =  Parks And Recreation

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete: This show is probably the reason our generation has been into quirky indie comedies since we were in high school. This small-town sitcom is a bit absurd, and centers around two brothers named – you guessed it – Pete and Pete. The show was so matter-of-fact about the weird goings-on of the town that the place became a character unto itself, and the audience accepted all of its weird quirks at face value.

Fun Fact: The Wellsville of Pete and Pete is apparently supposed to be Wellsville, NY. I live about 100 miles from there and have passed through on plenty of trips, and honestly, apart from an annual Balloon Rally it’s not that interesting.

Parks and Recreation: If you grew up loving slightly offbeat comedies about life in a more-than-slightly-offbeat town, you may as well watch Parks as an adult. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of this show around here, but we’ve never stopped to consider that our childhood watching Pete and Pete primed us for this small-town comedy about a group of unusual personalities. Like our favorite redheaded brothers, the folks in Pawnee face situations that are a touch more surreal than you’d see in real life, but the show somehow manages to be more true-to-life than a lot of more ‘realistic’ comedies.

The Secret World Of Alex Mack = Orphan Black

The Secret World Of Alex Mack:How good was this show? So good, right? Alex Mack was a junior high student who was hit with a truck from a chemical plant, and she developed special powers like being able into morph into a puddle of what looked like mercury, moving objects with her mind, and conducting some sort of electrical charge. Alex, with the (sometimes grudging) help of her brainy sister Annie, had to keep her powers on the down low so the folks at the chemical plant wouldn’t find out about her and … well, I’m not sure if we knew what they would do. Experiments, probably.

Orphan Black:  Here’s another show about a young ladies who are scientific freaks because of circumstances beyond their control (they’re clones). Once again, they have to escape the clutches of the sketchy Dyad Institute, and creepy Dr. Leekie, who are already collecting samples and monitoring the clones against their will. Like Alex Mack, Orphan Black deals with the ethics of scientific progress. No, really –  a major issue ahead is going to be the copyright of human DNA.

Space Cases = Battlestar Gallactica

Space Cases: It’s hard, guys. It’s hard walking around under the burden of being the only person alive who remembers the show Space Cases. It was a short-lived children’s sci-fi show set in space. I think this one is due for a re-watch, if only to revel in the low-budget 90s-ness of it all. Some of the props were evidently things like CDs glued together, and the game Lights Out pasted to the wall. See, things like this are why the Montreal TV industry – and children’s cable sci fi shows – never really took off.

Battlestar Gallactica – I’m positive that this is a sci-fi show with space ships, the future, and I’m pretty sure aliens. Okay, you caught me. I’ve never seen it. But there haven’t been too many outer space-based sci fi shows in recent years, and this is the closest one I could find in the near past. I suppose Stargate Atlantis is another option.

Noozles = Doctor Who

Noozles: According to Wikipedia, this show is 1000% more confusing and screwed-up than I remember it being. But basically, it’s like this: Noozles were adorable koala bears, but only certain people could know that they were actually aliens!

Doctor Who: Doctor Who is an adorable British man, but only certain people can know that he’s actually an alien!

The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo = Scandal

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo: Shelby Woo was a ridiculously talented teen who, with the help of a mid-90s PC and her crew of friends, solved mysteries and fought crime. As a mere teenager, Shelby wasn’t officially part of the police department, but we all know that Shelby Woo was the law.

Scandal: Children who grew up without questioning how it was possible to solve mysteries in a short span of time with the help of just an internet connection and a rag-tag crack team of experts – without wondering why the proper law enforcement didn’t just deal with crime itself instead of allowing a non-officer to take the reins — well, those children probably grew up to watch Scandal. Like Shelby Woo, Olivia Pope is able to fix anything – even stuff that technically, we’re pretty sure somebody else should be handling.

Nick News With Linda Ellerbee = 20/20

We love you, Linda. We don’t care what Dawson Leery says.

Nick News: This was a kids’ news magazine which tried to deliver the “who, what, where, when, why and how”  of the age to kids whose other main source of news was that Scholastic Weekly Reader that you’d get on Friday afternoons when your teacher had basically given up for the week. To be quite honest, Nick News did an admirable job of it, breaking down issues like presidential elections, the Gulf War, racism, and global warming down to a nine-year-old’s level without condescending. In fact, you can probably thank Nick News, in part, for the environmental “go green” push that’s sweeping the nation. Older adults were just getting into these issues after that Al Gore powerpoint, but us 90s kids grew up hearing about pollution and climate change from one Ms. Linda Ellerbee.

20/20: Well, this one also is able to break news and information down to a nine-year-old’s level. We may have mentioned this before, but both of us watched way more than a normal amount of 20/20 as kids. As a fourth-grader, I stayed up until 11 on Fridays because 20/20 was on at 10. At least these days, 20/20 is light on the news, heavy on the magazine, with a bunch of tiny segments simplifying stories as much as possible. Actually, maybe Nick News was better – at least they didn’t do monthly stories about “places you won’t believe our crew found a lot of germs!”

All That =  Saturday Night Live

Okay, this isn’t quite fair. All That was almost certainly intended to be a kids’ version of SNL, so there shouldn’t be any surprise here. But when you consider that today’s 20-somethings grew up watching Kenan Thompson on All That, it is sort of remarkable that we’re watching the same guy on the grown-up version of the show.

I may have been under-supervised as a kid, but I watched a lot of real SNL in the 90s (especially the older stuff), and was struck by how very not funny All That was in comparison. That Lori Beth Denberg sure could deliver the fake news, though.