Rex Manning Day, Mean Girls Day and More: Essential Pop Culture Holidays

In The Great Gatsby, Daisy always watched for the longest day of the year and then missed it. In the age of tumblr, I always watch for Saturday Detention Day, AKA Breakfast Club Day, and then miss it. I kind of understand how Daisy must feel. In the interest of never missing another movie or TV holiday, we’re compiling them here. Did we miss any? Let us know before we’re late to yet another Aaron Samuels Day.

Galentines Day

Date: February 13
TV Show: Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)
Reasoning:

Leap Day

Date: February 29, every 4 years
TV Show: 30 Rock
Reasoning: 30 Rock didn’t invent Leap Day, but it did invent Leap Day William, the heart and soul of the holiday

The Day Of The Dude

Date: March 8
Movie: The Big Lebowski (1998)
Reasoning: Anniversary of the Big Lebowski’s Release

Breakfast Club Day AKA Saturday Detention Day

Date: March 24
Movie: The Breakfast Club (1984)
Reasoning:

Winston Smith Day AKA 1984 Day

Date: April 4
Book: 1984, by George Orwell (1949)
Reasoning: The day Winston Smith began his diary.

Rex Manning Day

Date: April 8
Movie: Empire Records (1995)
Reasoning:

The Perfect Date

Date: April 25th
Movie: Miss Congeniality
Reasoning:

N Sync Day

Date: April 30
Song: It’s Gonna Be Me
Reasoning:

The Battle of Hogwarts

Date: May 2
Book and Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Reasoning: Confirmed by J.K. Rowling, who said that Victoire Weasley was born on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, May 2. The year was 1998:

Star Wars Day

Date: May 4
Movies: Many
Reasoning:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Date: June 5
Movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
 Reasoning: It’s iffy. That’s the day the audio from the Chicago Bears game they attended came from, but there may have been a few months left in the schoolyear. Also, that parade would have been in the fall. Let’s say that any day you play hooky can be Ferris Bueller Day in your heart.

Best Friends Day

Date: June 8
TV Show: Spongebob Squarepants
Reasoning: There’s no date given for Best Friends Day in the episode where Spongebob and Patrick celebrate it, so it’s usually celebrated on the Facebook-ish holiday of Best Friends Day, June 8

Bloomsday

Date: June 16
Book: Ulysses, by James Joyce (1922)
Reasoning: The events of Ulysses (main character Leopold Bloom) take place on June 16, 1904

Harry Potter’s Birthday

Date: July 31
Books/Movies: The Harry Potter series
Reasoning: Not only is this the date Harry was born in 1980, it’s when JK Rowling was born in 1965. And of course, Neville Longbottom was born the day before Harry if you want to turn it into a two-day event.

Roald Dahl Day

Date: September 13
Books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and many, many more
Reasoning: Roald Dahl was born on this day in 1916. Last year we celebrated with a whole week dedicated to Matilda.

Mean Girls Day AKA Aaron Samuels Day

Date: October 3
Movie: Mean Girls (2004)
Reasoning:

Treat Yo Self Day

Date: October 13
TV Show: Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)
Reasoning: The ‘treat yo self’ episode aired on this date in 2011

Abed’s Rudolph Day

Date: December 9
TV Show: Community (2009 – 2015)
Reasoning: In the classic 2010 claymation episode Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, this is the day Abed always watches Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer with his mom. 

Refrigerator Day

Date: December 11
TV Show: Dinosaurs (1991)
Reasoning: The date this classic episode about Refrigerator Day aired:

 

Festivus

Date: December 23
TV Show: Seinfeld  (1989 – 1998)
Reasoning: The day the holiday ‘for the rest of us’ is celebrated with the feats of strength, airing of grievances and Festivus pole.

 

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ICYMI: Nick Shows You Should Be Re-Watching If You Haven’t Already

#TheSplatIsComing y’all. And it’s coming tomorrow.

Nickelodeon’s Making You Feel Young/Old Again

There had been rumors that the head honchos over at Nickelodeon were conjuring something up – specifically aimed towards millennials – over this past month, and then last week, it was confirmed. Starting on October 5th, there would be a block of programming called The Splat from 10pm to 6am on Teen Nick. To kick it off, Kenan & Kel had a surprise reunion on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon by revisiting their iconic Good Burger sketch (despite the fact Kel said Kenan refused to ever be seen with him again?).

They couldn’t have had a better way to get people excited for The Splat, which will of course be showing reruns of Kenan & Kel and All That. Not to mention repeats of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Salute Your Shorts, Rocko’s Modern Life, Legends of The Hidden Temple, and more. So for all your college kids who are already staying up late writing those papers, here’s another excuse to keep procrastinating in the early hours of the morning.

Of course, we’re excited for this new programming (we did have an entire week dedicate to SNICK already), but I’m particularly excited after finding out they’re also showing old promos and interstitials that originally ran in the 90s/early 00s. Have you guys ever gone back and watched commercials from back then? It’s amazing and a black hole that is very hard to come out of when you’re trying to go to sleep (but if you want to waste time, RetroJunk.com is where it’s at).

Before The Splat actually kicks off next week, here are a few choice promos from old school Nickelodeon that will make you simultaneously get nostalgic and make you feel real old at the same time. Just remember that 1995 was 20 years ago, NOT 10.

Until The Fat Lady Sings

I feel like this particular bumper was played a lot, and one of the more memorable scenarios from the 90s. Watching it now, I’m just thinking how that actress must have haaated her life with that enormous wig on her head for hours.


So in some kind of reverse version of our series Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already, we’re giving you suggestions of 90s Nick shows and their current equivalents. Fan of New Girl? Clarissa Explains It All will be your jam on The Splat.

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.

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.

ICYMI: 90s TV Nostalgia to the Max

BYE 4EVR SATURDAY CARTOONS!!! Jk I’m not actually that upset about it because I spent my mornings as a youth watching Hang Time instead.

Alternative Saturday Morning Programming of the 90s

Last week, we talked about how Saturday morning cartoons have effectively come to an end. CW was the final network hold out, but on Saturday, September 27th, they aired the last remaining cartoon block, ending a continuous animated run that lasted over 50 years. 50 years!! You can blame live-action shows, reality programs and the fact that people’s TV habits have changed, but in its place, networks have opted to show educational series aimed at teenagers.

If you ask me, I think it’s a good idea. Not only is it a good move to try to lure teens in with informative shows as opposed to whatever they’re showing on MTV these days, but because I, for one, was never really into cartoons. Sure, I watched Rugrats. I enjoyed Doug and Recess, but I never sought out cartoons. Then again, I was the girl who was watching The Real World: London when I was 9, so I mean, that explains a lot about me in the present.

That’s not to say I never watched TV on Saturday mornings – it’s just that I opted for other shows instead. If you switched channels between TMNT and The Smurfs and TNBC, you might recognize some of the following programs I was watching while the rest of y’all were staring at the animated folk.

California Dreams

California Dreams is like the SBTB spin-off that should’ve been. Like if SBTB’s Hot Sundae took and and toured with the California Dreams, that would’ve been perfect. California Dreams was an slight alternative to SBTB, but you know, in a different part of The Golden State. The show was originally intended to be a family sitcom, focusing on the Garrison family, and the two kids, Matt & Jenny who were in a band. However the show was rebooted in season 2, and focused on the teens in said band instead, and it was a much “better” show after that. It surprisingly lasted for five seasons, and in 2010, Jimmy Fallon managed to get the band back together for a reunion on Late Night. Oh Sly.

Hang Time

Please note that all these videos are for the theme songs to the shows, because for some reason, all these songs are still trapped in my brain after all these years. Also trapped in my brain: the fact that this show took place in Deering, Indiana. While I was never much of a sports fan, I appreciated that this show featured a girl on an all-boys basketball team and still had those elements of a teen sitcom. In addition, sometimes when I hear the name Anthony Anderson, to this day, I still associate him with this show.

City Guys

C-I-T-Y YOU CAN SEE WHY. I’m telling you – these songs were pretty damn catchy. SBTB:TNC, Hang Time and City Guys were all part of the TNBC Saturday Morning lineup that is forever etched in my brain. Now that TNBC had covered its bases in California and Middle of Nowhere, America, they came full circle and had a new show set in New York City. Teaching kids that we live in a diverse world, the show centered on a white kid from a wealthy family and a black kid from a working class family and how they can be friends, and sometimes enemies, in school.


 

Are you still missing cartoons or any of the shows I just mentioned because you got hit hard with the nostalgia stick? Well luckily there are current shows that will fill that void for you.

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.

ICYMI: Bees & Butterflies in the Sky (I can go twice as high)

Forget the Super Bowl, the Scripps Spelling Bee is actually what all of America should be watching and tailgating with like, hummus and edamame. If you missed it, or you were just as enthralled with the competition as we were, here’s a breakdown of the superlatives from this year’s 2014 class of spellers.

Spelling Superlatives: Everyone’s A Winner At The 2014 Scripps Bee

I fell down the televised Bee rabbit hole when I was in eighth grade, home with strep throat on the day of the finals. A few (ahem) years later, I was once again home, this time from work, and this this time with an improbably horrible ear infection (current feeling: that part of Godspell when Jesus caterwauls “Oh Go-ohhhd, I’m dy-y-ing!”) The Bee is the best sick day viewing ever: repetitive, soothing, and lengthy, which is great for when you’re so ill that you’re too apathetic to change the channel. Not to mention, there’s nothing more calming than the gentle monotone of Jacques Bailly, except perhaps for Jacques Bailly conversing with Terry Gross.

However, you don’t have to have an infectious disease to appreciate the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It seems like every year more and more people watch it, so I’m sure we have plenty of readers who appreciated these Spelling Bee Superlatives as much as I did. With these categories, almost everyone’s a winner!

Actual Winners: Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe

[But, REAL Actual Winners: All Of Us]

Every year when I watch the Bee, I wish there was a way for everyone to win. There isn’t. But TWO kids winning is pretty great, right? Watching the word list dwindle, I hoped against hope they’d both keep answering correctly. Maybe I’m wrong – I’ve never been a 14-year-old boy, after all – but for the kids, it seems like it would actually be more fun to win with somebody than by yourself.

And no, they do not have to split the $30K grand prize.

Best Vest: Ansun Sujoe

I’d say that any competition in which you stand to win $30,000 merits your first-string wardrobe. I think Ansun would say so, too.

Best Name: Caribbean Sea’Era Adams

Caribbean is a word I’ve never run across as a name before, so I’m going to guess this contestant got her love of words from her parents.

Best Sample Sentence

This year, the Scripps folks made a concerted effort to incorporate some more humorous sentences. E.g.: “Pampootie is as uncomfortable to say in public as it is to wear in public.” But the funniest of all was probably the sentence Dr. Jacques Bailly didn’t get to finish. While reading feijoada, which is some kind of Brazilian bean dish,  Bailly began reading “Tabitha discovered that her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,” and was summarily cut off. I am dying to know how that was possibly all going to come together.

Most Enthusiastic Speller: Jacob Williamson.

This kid squealed with glee when he got words right, and ran to the stage with the force of 10 Price Is Right contestants when he was announced as a finalist. It was fun to see a kid act like this was the most exciting moment of his life, because face it, it probably was. If you watched the Bee, you know that you really can’t categorize the spellers as one particular kind of kid. But if Central Casting had to come up with an enthusiastic Bee kid, Jacob would be it.

Best (Worst?) Peripeteia: Jacob Williamson, again.

Want to see the elation of victory turned, in a matter of seconds, into the agony of defeat? Yeah, me either – but I saw it anyway, when Jacob Williamson KNEW kabarogoya, until he … didn’t. My theory: he correctly remembered that it was an “easy one” – a word spelled almost phonetically – but, alas, forgot about that whole c/k thing.


 Considering these kids are geniuses at spelling, it goes without say that they’ve had a great educational experience thus far, and literacy is obviously a part of it. This week, LeVar Burton launched – and successfully funded within 10 hours – a Kickstarter to raise money for a reboot of Reading Rainbow, his popular program back in the day. The show impacted a lot of kids our generation and young, so we couldn’t be more excited for LeVar reaching his goal! Not to mention, we just really like him a lot.

 Man Crush Monday: LeVar Burton

Today’s Monday man crush is a fellow you may not have thought about since you were reading books written and illustrated by Jan Brett*. I’m talking about the one and only LeVar Burton, the pot of gold at the end of the reading rainbow.

Before we get started, let me just tell you that if you’re looking for a post about liking LeVar Burton ironically, or any 90s nostalgic millennial nonsense like that, this isn’t the post you should be reading**. Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. is almost absurdly man-crushable – but you don’t have to take my word for it!***

Bringing Reading To Public Television

I know, I know. Public television is already the books of TV. But let’s go back to 1983, when Reading Rainbow started. Most people didn’t have 1000 channels***. They had, like 5 or so, and one of them was probably the local PBS affiliate. Most of the stations were showing 80s mom television during the day (meaning soap operas and talk shows by people who weren’t Oprah). PBS was basically it for kids programming, so this little show about books had a huge potential audience.

The producers of Sesame Street intended for their show to reach kids who weren’t necessarily getting pre-preschool learning prep at home. Reading Rainbow filled a similar role for older kids whose parents weren’t big into books, or maybe just didn’t have the time or language skills to promote reading.

Reading Rainbow had a lot going for it. The awesome celebrity guests – Eartha Kitt, anyone? – kept parents from changing the channel. The show format was almost genius in its simplicity, and the theme song was crazy-good – but the real draw was LeVar as a host. He was upbeat but didn’t use that stupid “talking to kids voice,” and he was enthusiastic about the theme of the episode, but never pedantic. Burton had the same quality as Mister Rogers (and, I’d argue, Amy Poehler in her Smart Girls series) – an adult who recognizes kids as full people.

Bringing Diversity To Public Television

Think about most of the men on children’s programs. So many white guys, right? Look, some of my best friends are white guys. But it’s really important for all kids out there to have a man on TV who actually looks like he could be their dad or uncle.

It’s not only that TV has an over-abundance of white people. People of color are also less likely to be represented positively.  Negative representation does a number on kids’ self-concepts. Remember that bummer of a social experiment where kids choose between white dolls and Black dolls, and all of the kids pick the white doll because they’ve internalized that the Black doll is “bad” and “stupid?” That’s what I’m talking about here. But for 30 years, kids at least had LeVar Burton on PBS – an affable, smart, cool relative- or neighbor-type.

White kids needed LeVar too, especially white kids growing up in predominantly white communities. Familiarity breeds … well, familiarity. That’s why my  inner-city childhood was so great – I didn’t grow up thinking of white people as the default humans. Watching LeVar Burton talk about Chris Van Allsburg books isn’t going to stop racism, but it at least helped white kids grow up thinking of one man of color as a nice, friendly guy who’s into books — and it might be some of the only exposure to that kind of representation that those kids have.

KUNTA KINTE, EVERYBODY

As two ladies who might like Event Television more than actual events, it’s a bummer that we missed out on the huge TV sensation that was Alex Haley’s Roots. But having seen it on cable later on, it really was a miniseries worth the hype.

Burton played the young Kunta Kinte, a young man who is kidnapped in Africa and sold into slavery in the United States. He was only 20 at the time, but Burton was such a pro — perfectly expressing the transition from a young warrior-in-training to a man struggling against the slave system by trying to escape and resisting a name change.

For my generation, LeVar Burton is the man from Reading Rainbow, but for people a little older than us, he’s Kunta Kinte. If you only know Burton from PBS, I suggest you find a copy of Roots and give it a watch.

Star Trek, If You’re Into That

We’re not into Star Trek. Like, at all. But we have it on good authority that people who are into Star Trek are real into Star Trek. So for those people, Burton’s tenure on the sci-fi show is probably one of their favorite things about him. Even if you’re not into space shows, you’ve got to admit that having a career portfolio that spans children’s television, science fiction and historical drama is pretty fantastic.

LeVar Burton Is Totally Cool With Himself

Some of the stuff LeVar did for Reading Rainbow was straight-up silly, which is awesome. He wore medieval regalia and got transformed into a troll, all for the sake of reading. What is more attractive a guy who is so comfortable with himself that he’d rather have fun than look cool? Burton even said “I fly my geek flag proudly.” Honestly, that’s the coolest ever.

Everyone Loves LeVar

When was the last time you heard anyone talk smack about LeVar Burton? NEVER. And as children who grew up with Reading Rainbow become adults, Burton is in big demand. In the past few years alone he has made guest appearances in The Colbert Report, Community, and Wish I Was Here.

There’s An App For That

Do you really think that someone as awesome as LeVar Burton would get left behind the current wave of technology? Please. In the 80s, meeting kids where they were meant going to public television, but in the 2010s, kids are on the iPad. Seriously, if you ever have trouble doing something on your iPad, give it to the nearest three-year-old and they will be able to fix it for you. And then they will refuse to give it back for hours because toddlers LOVE tablets. The Reading Rainbow app promotes reading to kids who are less exposed than ever to tangible books – you know, the kind with pages and covers and stuff. You can read more about it here, but this app – like LeVar himself – is basically a huge deal.

 

* I get that Reading Rainbow repped all childrens’ books, but why did it always seem like it was Jan Brett’s Scandinavian kinder in knit woolens? Did my first-grade teacher just have one videocassette? Going forward, please realize that my memories of Reading Rainbow might be from one episode watched multiple times.

** DON’T LEAVE. You can still read our other posts. Here’s a Baby-Sitters Club musical libretto, and here’s a live-blog of Sharknado. AND THAT’S JUST TWO OF OUR THINGS.

*** Here’s where I ask you to take my word for it. Actually.

****  ⅔ of which are somehow the same channel listed multiple times. Be better, Time Warner.

 

Man Crush Monday: LeVar Burton

Today’s Monday man crush is a fellow you may not have thought about since you were reading books written and illustrated by Jan Brett*. I’m talking about the one and only LeVar Burton, the pot of gold at the end of the reading rainbow.

Before we get started, let me just tell you that if you’re looking for a post about liking LeVar Burton ironically, or any 90s nostalgic millennial nonsense like that, this isn’t the post you should be reading**. Levardis Robert Martyn Burton, Jr. is almost absurdly man-crushable – but you don’t have to take my word for it!***

Bringing Reading To Public Television

I know, I know. Public television is already the books of TV. But let’s go back to 1983, when Reading Rainbow started. Most people didn’t have 1000 channels***. They had, like 5 or so, and one of them was probably the local PBS affiliate. Most of the stations were showing 80s mom television during the day (meaning soap operas and talk shows by people who weren’t Oprah). PBS was basically it for kids programming, so this little show about books had a huge potential audience.

The producers of Sesame Street intended for their show to reach kids who weren’t necessarily getting pre-preschool learning prep at home. Reading Rainbow filled a similar role for older kids whose parents weren’t big into books, or maybe just didn’t have the time or language skills to promote reading.

Reading Rainbow had a lot going for it. The awesome celebrity guests – Eartha Kitt, anyone? – kept parents from changing the channel. The show format was almost genius in its simplicity, and the theme song was crazy-good – but the real draw was LeVar as a host. He was upbeat but didn’t use that stupid “talking to kids voice,” and he was enthusiastic about the theme of the episode, but never pedantic. Burton had the same quality as Mister Rogers (and, I’d argue, Amy Poehler in her Smart Girls series) – an adult who recognizes kids as full people.

Bringing Diversity To Public Television

Think about most of the men on children’s programs. So many white guys, right? Look, some of my best friends are white guys. But it’s really important for all kids out there to have a man on TV who actually looks like he could be their dad or uncle.

It’s not only that TV has an over-abundance of white people. People of color are also less likely to be represented positively.  Negative representation does a number on kids’ self-concepts. Remember that bummer of a social experiment where kids choose between white dolls and Black dolls, and all of the kids pick the white doll because they’ve internalized that the Black doll is “bad” and “stupid?” That’s what I’m talking about here. But for 30 years, kids at least had LeVar Burton on PBS – an affable, smart, cool relative- or neighbor-type.

White kids needed LeVar too, especially white kids growing up in predominantly white communities. Familiarity breeds … well, familiarity. That’s why my  inner-city childhood was so great – I didn’t grow up thinking of white people as the default humans. Watching LeVar Burton talk about Chris Van Allsburg books isn’t going to stop racism, but it at least helped white kids grow up thinking of one man of color as a nice, friendly guy who’s into books — and it might be some of the only exposure to that kind of representation that those kids have.

KUNTA KINTE, EVERYBODY

As two ladies who might like Event Television more than actual events, it’s a bummer that we missed out on the huge TV sensation that was Alex Haley’s Roots. But having seen it on cable later on, it really was a miniseries worth the hype.

Burton played the young Kunta Kinte, a young man who is kidnapped in Africa and sold into slavery in the United States. He was only 20 at the time, but Burton was such a pro — perfectly expressing the transition from a young warrior-in-training to a man struggling against the slave system by trying to escape and resisting a name change.

For my generation, LeVar Burton is the man from Reading Rainbow, but for people a little older than us, he’s Kunta Kinte. If you only know Burton from PBS, I suggest you find a copy of Roots and give it a watch.

Star Trek, If You’re Into That

We’re not into Star Trek. Like, at all. But we have it on good authority that people who are into Star Trek are real into Star Trek. So for those people, Burton’s tenure on the sci-fi show is probably one of their favorite things about him. Even if you’re not into space shows, you’ve got to admit that having a career portfolio that spans children’s television, science fiction and historical drama is pretty fantastic.

LeVar Burton Is Totally Cool With Himself

Some of the stuff LeVar did for Reading Rainbow was straight-up silly, which is awesome. He wore medieval regalia and got transformed into a troll, all for the sake of reading. What is more attractive a guy who is so comfortable with himself that he’d rather have fun than look cool? Burton even said “I fly my geek flag proudly.” Honestly, that’s the coolest ever.

Everyone Loves LeVar

When was the last time you heard anyone talk smack about LeVar Burton? NEVER. And as children who grew up with Reading Rainbow become adults, Burton is in big demand. In the past few years alone he has made guest appearances in The Colbert Report, Community, and Wish I Was Here.

There’s An App For That

Do you really think that someone as awesome as LeVar Burton would get left behind the current wave of technology? Please. In the 80s, meeting kids where they were meant going to public television, but in the 2010s, kids are on the iPad. Seriously, if you ever have trouble doing something on your iPad, give it to the nearest three-year-old and they will be able to fix it for you. And then they will refuse to give it back for hours because toddlers LOVE tablets. The Reading Rainbow app promotes reading to kids who are less exposed than ever to tangible books – you know, the kind with pages and covers and stuff. You can read more about it here, but this app – like LeVar himself – is basically a huge deal.

 

* I get that Reading Rainbow repped all childrens’ books, but why did it always seem like it was Jan Brett’s Scandinavian kinder in knit woolens? Did my first-grade teacher just have one videocassette? Going forward, please realize that my memories of Reading Rainbow might be from one episode watched multiple times.

** DON’T LEAVE. You can still read our other posts. Here’s a Baby-Sitters Club musical libretto, and here’s a live-blog of Sharknado. AND THAT’S JUST TWO OF OUR THINGS.

*** Here’s where I ask you to take my word for it. Actually.

****  ⅔ of which are somehow the same channel listed multiple times. Be better, Time Warner.

 

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.

Saturday Spotlight: Guess Who’s Back? Back Again?

After a few weeks of Best of 2013 posts, it feels great to be back in the blogging game! But we’re not the only ones making a comeback – so are two of our favorite TV shows, awards season, and our resolve to start the new year as productive human beings. As always, click on the title to go to the whole post.

23 Skiddoo! Downton-Era Slang for Every Vocabulary

blotto – drunk

  • Example: Mabel is completely blotto off that moonshine!

bubs – boobs, but way more fun to say

  • Example: Now Mabel’s showing her bubs! Geraldine, get her home!

cancelled stamp – a shy, wallflower-y girl who’s not very fun.

  • Example: Say what you will about Mabel, at least she’s not a cancelled stamp like old Gertie!

quilt – an alcoholic beverage that keeps you warm

  • Example:

Mabel: I sure am cold after that sledding party! Somebody get me a quilt.

Ethel: Oh, you’ve had quite enough, Mabel.

Mabel: I meant a literal quilt, though.

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Go Human Beings! A Tribute to the (Real) Return of Community

Last week, the cult comedy returned for a fifth season and let me just say for the record – it’s already better than 90% of the episodes from last season.

Community -- Season 5

For those who aren’t fans/not familiar with the situation at hand, Community has always been in underdog status with NBC. It has always been in danger of being cancelled, not to mention its time slot was constantly moved around as well as its premiere date. Fans rallied to save the show, repeating the mantra ‘Six Seasons and a Movie’ in reference to something Abed says in the show.

At the end of season 3, creator/executive producer/mastermind Dan Harmon left the show, leaving his baby in the hands of two other guys who were decent but not as genius as Dan Harmon. Thus, season 4 was widely panned by critics and fans alike (I will say there were at least 3 good episodes. Out of 13).

Luckily for us, Dan Harmon is BACK for the fifth season and we can have renewed hope in this show once again. If you’re one of those folks who stopped watching after season three or mid-season 4, here are some reasons you need to get your ass back to Greendale.

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The People’s Choice Awards Are Why People Shouldn’t Get Choices

Favorite TV Fan Following

What does this even mean? Think about it: you’re already supposed to vote for your favorite show in other categories, thus declaring yourself part of the “fan following.” Isn’t this redundant? Or are some people super into, say, Glee, but they’re really more fans of the fans of Supernatural? I’m overthinking.

Favorite Music Fan Following

As with the TV Fan Following, this makes absolutely no sense to me. Also, Katy Perry’s fans are called KatyCats.

Favorite Humanitarian

The People’s favorite humanitarian is Sandra Bullock. I’m guessing that at least 25% of The People thought that “humanitarian” was a fancy way to say “human.” [Note: This isn’t to take away from Bullock’s charitable work, which is really fantastic.]

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What To Expect At The Golden Globes

New Year, new season of endless awards shows. And it all kicks off this Sunday (when we’ll be live blogging too!) for the Golden Globes. Personally, the Golden Globes are my fave next to the Emmys, since I’m more of a TV person but also I like seeing the movie folks rub elbows with the TV folks, or as co-host Amy Poehler called it, “Where the beautiful people of film rub shoulders with the rat-faced people of television.”

So in honor of this weekend’s big event, here are some things to look out for on one of our favorite days of the year.

General Poehler/Fey Awesomeness

Let’s be real. These two queens of comedy/life are the reason why the show last year wasn’t just a snoozefest. They brought life back to the show and did it without making offensive jokes and by bringing unadulterated joy into everyone’s life with their wit and beauty. If you are not like me and watch their monologue from last year on a monthly basis, here’s a refresher.

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Last-Chance New Year’s Resolutions

We’re days into the New Year, but I’m going to guess that some of us good-for-nothing lazybones still haven’t written our resolutions. Maybe on New Year’s Day you were too hungover busy into TV marathons to make your list, but there’s still time!

I’m going to take the same approach that I did during Lent as a kid, when I’d realize a few days after Ash Wednesday that I hadn’t given anything up. Basically: find something that I’ve already not done for the past week, and keep not doing it, or pick a long-range goal that I can still get going on. For all of you lazyfaces out there, these Resolutions just might be doable:

Get More Into TV

Confession: I actually made a concerted attempt to get more into TV at one point. I didn’t have many must-watch shows in law school (exception: NBC Thursdays (RIP)). When I graduated, I was excited to actually see the shows that everyone talked about – mostly so I could follow along in conversation. So, I know what it takes to get more into TV.

But listen. Getting more into TV isn’t for everyone. Things you may need include: a solid regular viewing schedule, a TV Guide app, a Netflix or Hulu Plus membership, cable tv, your parents’ cable account info because they don’t use HBOGo anyway, DVR, and a dogged dedication to keeping your social life so minimal that it doesn’t threaten your prime-time responsibilities.

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Go Human Beings! A Tribute to the (Real) Return of Community

Last week, the cult comedy returned for a fifth season and let me just say for the record – it’s already better than 90% of the episodes from last season.

Community -- Season 5

For those who aren’t fans/not familiar with the situation at hand, Community has always been in underdog status with NBC. It has always been in danger of being cancelled, not to mention its time slot was constantly moved around as well as its premiere date. Fans rallied to save the show, repeating the mantra ‘Six Seasons and a Movie’ in reference to something Abed says in the show.

At the end of season 3, creator/executive producer/mastermind Dan Harmon left the show, leaving his baby in the hands of two other guys who were decent but not as genius as Dan Harmon. Thus, season 4 was widely panned by critics and fans alike (I will say there were at least 3 good episodes. Out of 13).

Luckily for us, Dan Harmon is BACK for the fifth season and we can have renewed hope in this show once again. If you’re one of those folks who stopped watching after season three or mid-season 4, here are some reasons you need to get your ass back to Greendale.

1) Dan Harmon

Except Chevy wouldn’t be thinking this…

Like I mentioned, Dan Harmon is back. His crazy yet talented mind is back. He left the show in the first place because of something to do with NBC and hating Chevy Chase, so now that Chevy is gone and I guess he’s mended his ties with the network, he’s agreed to come back. Not to mention Joel McHale championed for him to come back.

Dan has a certain style of writing, a creative way of telling stories that is so unique that it’s hard to recreate. And that’s clearly been proven. A show as meta and pop culture-refrencey (scientific term) as Community can only be done right by him.

2) Guest Stars

Basically the entire cast of Breaking Bad is going to be on the show, so just watch it. Okay, maybe not the entire cast. Just Jonathan Banks (Mike) who has essentially replaced Chevy Chase and Vince Gilligan (!). Speaking of creators of great TV shows, Mitch Hurwitz, the guy behind Arrested Development will be on, as well as Tobias Funke David Cross. Then there’s also Nathan Fillion, Ben Folds, and Chris Elliot, but hey, who’s keeping track?

3) Jeff Winger as a Teacher

That’s right, everyone’s favorite lawyer-turned-community college student finally graduated and has no where else to go but backwards. But how will the rest of the study group react to this turn of events? Will it just be a shitshow?

4)  Parodies/Musical Segments/Pop Culture-Refrencey Moments

These are the show’s bread and butter. With Dan at the helm, he was able to pull off genre spoofs like Spaghetti Westerns, a Law & Order episode, even a Ken Burns type documentary about Pillow Vs. Blanket forts. Not to mention some of my fave concept episodes which involve paintball, Dungeons and Dragons and probably the greatest ep to date – Remedial Chaos Theory which explores a night with the gang in seven alternate timelines. And it looks like we’re back on track with this S5 trailer spoof of Mad Men, which is known for its unrevealing extremely vague promos.

5) Troy’s departure

Ok, I’m not so much as looking forward to this as interested to see how he will leave and if Abed can stay alive for the rest of the series. Troy, played by my boo Donald Glover, is only in 5 of the 13 episodes this season because he’s got better things to do like rap and produce shows because he’s super talented. But will his BFFL Abed be able to go on without him? Will they finally be forced to grow up? Will he take off his shirt one last time? I don’t think I’ll be able to handle this.

A Beginner’s Guide to Childish Gambino

On Tuesday, this guy came out with a new album:
cg because the internet
Yes, this is the actual cover for Childish Gambino’s new record. I bought the actual CD, and not only are his eyes staring directly into my soul, but it’s a HOLOGRAM. Well worth my $10.

BTW, if you don’t know who this is, this is rapper/singer/artist/actor/writer/producer/all around G of all trades, Donald Glover. Most people know him as Troy Barnes on Community (#SixSeasonsAndAMovie), which is how I originally became of fan of him. I caught on to his alter ego’s music circa 2010, when he came out with Culdesac, and his impressive skills and frequent pop culture refs have made me been hooked ever since. Not to mention, he puts on an amazing live show, and I’ve seen him every time he’s played in LA – including the one time I didn’t realize I got pit tickets and was really close to him and watched his Community pals watch him from the sidelines.

IMG_1635

When I almost died after he took his shirt off and we were thisclose from him. If you look closely, you can see Alison Brie in the back!

Now here we are with his new album, a record that shouldn’t even be called a record because it’s so much more than that. In addition to the music, he’s released a 72-page screenplay on the becausetheinter.net website. The music on the album acts as a soundtrack to the scenes (or vice versa). Not only that, but a few months ago, he released a 24 minute movie that supposedly acts as the prelude to the because the internet screenplay/album. In fact, a fan has a theory that over the past year, CG has been incorporating the elements from BTI in his tweets, insta, interviews, etc. You can read more of the theory here, it’s insane.

But before you delve into the new joint, especially if you’re new to the game, it’s important to know where CG came from and how he’s grown as an artist (because clearly, there’s a rhyme and reason to everything he does). So I’ve compiled a few of my favorite tracks of his to get you started.

Sunshine {Pointdexter}

This is off one of CG’s earliest mix tapes and he sounds completely different than he does today, but this track proves that he was just more than an actor.

Do Ya Like {Culdesac}

Pre-Rolling in the Deep, Adele had minor hits off her album 19, and on that same record there’s a song called Melt My Heart to Stone. And CG managed to sample that song on this track. And it’s fucking catchy as hell.

Put it in My Video {Culdesac}

From the very start as the first note drops, you know what’s up. You can not only put it in his video but have a sick dance party (by yourself) or with friends, too.

I Got This Money {Culdesac}

The version below is the acoustic version, which I actually like better than the original, but you might like that one better. S/o to the guitar player, whose name is Ludwig Goransson who is CG’s main music man, not to mention he’s the music supervisor on a ton of TV shows, including Community.

Be Alone – Freaks and Geeks – My Shine – Lights Turned On – Not Going Back {EP}

THE ENTIRE EP RECORD BECAUSE IT IS PERFECT. Really. Every single song.

Bonfire {Camp}

What better way to lead off an album called Camp with a song called Bonfire? From the first note, you get a sense of what the record is, which is … on fire.

Fire Fly {Camp}

Just imagine bumpin’ this song in the summer, ridin’ in your drop top, passin’ by kids playing in fire hydrants… basically imagine if you lived in Do The Right Thing for about 3 minutes and that’s what this song feels like.

Heartbeat {Camp}

From the moment I heard this song, I knew it would be one of my all time favorites. It’s been two years since this album released and I STILL don’t get sick of this song. Hearing it live is even more of an experience – it gets inside your soul (Seriously, see this man live. It will change your life).

LES {Camp}

This song elicits a specific dance move out of me that may or may not look a little like this, and I don’t know why but it does and I’m fine with it.

We Ain’t Them {R O Y A L T Y}

This was the lead single of CG’s 2012 mix tape, and probably my fave of the bunch. That’s all I have to say about that.

Unnecessary {R O Y A L T Y}

CG goes hard. And serves up realness.

Won’t Stop (ft. Danielle Haim)  {R O Y A L T Y}

Danielle Haim of HAIM, you guys. This song is really deep and I appreciate that.

Real Estate  {R O Y A L T Y}

This is a song featuring Tina Fey rapping. Yes, that Tina Fey (PS: If you didn’t know, Donald used to write for 30 Rock – an even won an Emmy for it – so there’s your Queen Tina connection).

IV. Sweatpants {because the internet}

Because I’m old school and actually buy CDs of artists that I love instead of streaming it online days before it’s released, I’ve only listened to the album a couple of times all the way through. That being said, this song stuck out right away. He’s only getting better, folks.

Bonus Tracks:

Break (AOTL)

Because Kanye West’s All of the Lights was so damn good it needed to be incorporated into a CG song.

The Longest Text Message

The phrase “sad face emoticon” are real lyrics to this song, hence Gambino’s mastermind status.