We’ve said this before, but The Nerdwriter‘s videos are really something special. His in-depth analyses of dozens of subjects are incredibly entertaining and unbelievably insightful. In his latest video, he turns his meticulous sights upon a ’90s classic: The Ren & Stimpy Show.
It’s hard to believe that a show so deeply ingrained in all our minds only lasted five seasons. On top of that, many of the most lasting images from the series come from its first two years on air. The Nerdwriter’s new video, Ren & Stimpy: Never The Same Face Twice, focuses on those first two seasons in particular, because that was when the show’s creator, John Kricfalusi, was at the helm.
As explained in the video, Kricfalusi’s distinct style was pretty much the complete opposite from what audiences were used to at the time. A lot of animation from the early 1990s had a cookie-cutter feel to it, as most was farmed out to overseas animation studios and was rarely taken care of by the initial creative teams. This is where Ren & Stimpy differed. The show was a complete labor of love for Kricfalusi, who constantly motivated his animators to push boundaries and to try new things. As Kricfalusi himself is noted as saying, “I urge my artists all the time to never draw an expression that they’ve drawn before.”
The show was a pioneer for some of the animation we may just take for granted these days, from the grotesque close-ups now used in shows like SpongeBob SquarePants to the the nonsensical plots and lack of lessons that paved the way for most of the shows airing on Adult Swim.
One of the more interesting things that The Nerdwriter brings to light is why the show was condemned by so many parents groups at the time; he speculates on a connection between Ren & Stimpy‘s tendency to showcase the grotesque nature of various bodily effluvia and the concurrent era’s panic about the transmission of AIDS. Despite all that and other controversies, the show was one of the most popular Nicktoons and was watched by a surprisingly large amount of adults at the time.
The gross and lesson-free adventures full of adult innuendo paired with the surreal and abstract nature of the animation is what made The Ren & Stimpy Show stick with us all these years. The Nerdwriter’s beautiful analysis of such a great cartoon has surely revived our love for it. If you need us, we’ll be binge watching… Everything except the nerve endings episode. That scarred us too much.
Image: Paramount Television