“SpongeBob SquarePants” is the greatest animation of our generation

“SpongeBob SquarePants” is a show that promotes good attitudes and the use of imagination and is enjoyed by viewers of all ages. | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/user: Ralf Houven

If you grew up with cable, you probably turned on the TV at some point and watched “SpongeBob SquarePants” on Nickelodeon. Premiering in 1999, the iconic show is nearing a 20-year run and is still producing episodes through 2019.

This makes it the fifth-longest running animated television series. After the recent death of Stephen Hillenburg — the show’s creator — many have stopped to examine the cartoon’s impact on a generation of viewers.

Hillenburg’s inspiration

Hillenburg was a marine biology teacher early in his career, when he used a comic book called “The Intertidal Zone” to educate his students on tide-pool dwelling animals. After a few years, Hillenburg decided to pursue a career in animation.

The characters he created for “The Intertidal Zone” would eventually become the characters of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Hillenburg’s different career paths are inspiring, highlighting that the first path you take may not be your destiny.

Hillenburg’s lead character of the show, SpongeBob, is a perfect example of a well-rounded person. Although he doesn’t have a driver’s license, he has a job in food service that he is unwaveringly passionate about and fiercely devoted to.

His work at the Krusty Krab and relationships with his friends are marked by hard work, loyalty and positivity.  His show taught a generation of kids the benefits of having a good attitude, using your imagination and always believing in your ideas.

Themes in the show

SpongeBob has a great attitude and is generally rewarded for it, while Squidward has a bad attitude and usually gets the short end of the stick.

In the episode “Club SpongeBob,” Squidward forces himself into SpongeBob and Patrick’s secret clubhouse for the sole purpose of making fun of them. When Squidward attempts to leave the tree house, he inadvertently slingshots them into the middle of a destitute kelp forest.

In the episode, SpongeBob never loses his positive outlook, while Squidward verbally insults SpongeBob and his Magic Conch Shell — a Magic 8-Ball-like device SpongeBob and Patrick devotedly obey throughout the episode.

Then out of nowhere, an entire feast falls out of a plane for SpongeBob and Patrick, which they assume is a gift from the Magic Conch. Squidward continues to denounce the shell’s magical abilities and is not allowed to partake in the feast.

This is not the only time Squidward falls victim to things going awry due to his own wrongdoing.  On the other hand, SpongeBob is almost always rewarded with random good fortune and luck.

Using your imagination

One of the best lessons the show stresses is the importance of an active imagination. In the episode “The Idiot Box,” SpongeBob and Patrick take a cardboard box and begin playing inside it. They create all sorts of impossible scenarios that produce realistic sound effects, which triggers Squidward’s interest.

Squidward is skeptical of the box’s abilities, which he believes are too good to be true. SpongeBob attempts to explain to Squidward that he can be anything he wants as long as he uses his imagination.

But Squidward doesn’t believe in the power of imagination and investigates the box for a sound machine, which he insists they must be using, but finds nothing. Squidward finally decides to start using his imagination and pretends to be a racecar driver.

Through the use of imagination, sound effects begin to come out of the box for Squidward, just like they had for SpongeBob and Patrick.

Promoting creativity is important to child-development, and SpongeBob does a fantastic job of this.

Never give up

One of SpongeBob’s most admirable qualities is his ability to never give up. His persistence in obtaining his boating license is one of the show’s longest running jokes. Despite failing every semester and his driving instructor’s encouragements for him to give up, SpongeBob persists.

In the episode “Patty Hype,” SpongeBob pitches an idea to have multicolored patties to Mr. Krabs. Mr. Krabs rejects the idea and joins Squidward in ridiculing him. SpongeBob replies that he knows his idea is good and he is going to open up his own restaurant.

At first business is slow, but eventually when people see they can have patties in their favorite color, his business takes off.

Adult humor in the show

“SpongeBob SquarePants” is a show that is entertaining for all ages. When looking for material to write about in this article, I watched a few episodes and found myself laughing even more than I remember as a kid. There are definitely jokes in the show that adults can relate to, and this is clear in the episode “Grandma’s Kisses.”

SpongeBob is ridiculed by his friends for getting dropped off at work and kissed by his grandma. So he turns to Patrick for advice on acting like an adult. Patrick tells him to puff up his chest and say “tax exemptions” and start acquiring a taste for jazz music.

The two then get sideburns and head over to his grandma’s house where SpongeBob tells her he can’t be treated like a baby anymore. The humor in these jokes are some of the many that went over my head as a kid but are funny to me now.

Many young adults probably haven’t watched SpongeBob in some time, but it remains relevant in popular culture. It is often referenced in jokes on social media and quoted by people of all ages.

You can refer to one scene of a particular episode, and chances are everyone around you will be able to recall the plot of the whole episode.

It is rare for a children’s show to remain as relevant and as iconic as “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Perhaps the most impressive thing about this series is the ability of the producers to pack so much humor, cleverness and action into each of the 12-minute episodes.

“SpongeBob SquarePants” has touched fans of all ages by using humor all fans can relate to and is one of the greatest animated shows of its time.

Opinion columnist Rachel Reynolds is a psychology sophomore and can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment