The answer would be the character both adults and children have grown to love, SpongeBob Squarepants. This animate comedy, first introduced in 1999, tells the many tales of a sea sponge and his close friends in the town of Bikini Bottom, located underneath the Pacific Ocean. SpongeBob Squarepants is known to be a jolly, optimistic adult, with childlike ideas. The show revolves around his knack for causing trouble, without any intention of doing so. His innocence and naivety attracts all age groups around the world.
To analyze this program, I watched two back to back episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants. In the first one, SpongeBob and his not-so -smart best friend, Patrick (a starfish), adopt a clam. They decide to raise the creature together, imitating a human family. The show goes so far as to portray Patrick as a working father, whom resists any chores or responsibility of taking care of the clam. SpongeBob is portrayed as a stay at home mom, responsible for complete care of their child and all household chores. This results in a domestic fight, tearing SpongeBob and Patrick apart. In the end, the clam “grew up” and let the home, leaving Sponge bob and Patrick to reunite as friends.
The second show began with SpongeBob at his place of work, The Krusty Krab. In the task of taking out the trash during closing time, SpongeBob happened to notice a slew of words graffittied on the dumpster. Being his naïve and innocent self, he began to use these words in his vocabulary, convincing Patrick to do the same. As it turns out, these words are swear words, and everyone in town is outraged with the flaunting of these words. But of course, SpongeBob does not know any better, and is clueless to the situation.
This cartoon has become successful due to its wide range of themes, not only catering to children, but also adults. The show integrates words or situations that only adults would understand. Such as the domestic situation in the first episode I viewed. The scenario was a mocking situation of a stereotypical couple, inexperienced to the task of raising a child. Of course, this idea would go over a young child’s head. The second episode portrayed the idea of using swear words. Of course, the words were no actually verbalized, but implied by the other character’s reactions. This would not be understood by a child watching the show, but an adult would have full knowledge of the scenario.
While the show is known to be loved by adults, the commercials only portray to young kids. Being aired on nickelodeon, the commercials generally convey products or services aimed toward the younger crowd. Some of the ads aired during the shows I watched were for Trix cereal (the cereal only for kids), Kings Dominion’s water park, and Fruit by the Foot that turns your tongue blue. Obvious, these are things most kids would be amused by, rather than most adults.
In addition, the show does contain some cultural messages that are also mostly adult oriented.
One example is SpongeBob’s employer, Mr. Krabs. His character is a portrayed as a cheap, money hungry, selfish crab. He represents the idea that money can not buy happiness, no matter how much you have. There is also Squidworth Tentacles, SpongeBob’s stingy neighbor, whom is portrayed as a stuck up, music loving squid. Plankton, the smallest creature in Bikini Bottom and owner of the Chum Bucket (rival to Krusty Krabs), is constantly trying to steal the secret recipe to the coveted Krabby Patty. He will do anything to succeed and overtake the world, even if it means not having any friends. These characters all represent cultural stereotypes perceived in the real world. They may be a bit out of proportion, but the ideas behind the characters are derived from real humans. Once again, this idea is usually missed by children watching the show.
It is absurd to think a show about an adult sponge, with a childlike personality, who lives in a pineapple, would receive so many top rated reviews. However, due to its unique blend of ironic scenarios, creative creatures, mature messages, humorous situations, and of course the hilarious animated voices, the show is able to cater to an assortment of audiences. This is one cartoon adults are able to enjoy with their children and not be afraid to admit it.