Rocko’s Modern Life

Nineties kids truly lived in the Renaissance era of animated cartoon programming. When you take into account that we were raised on a TV diet of Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Doug, it’s amazing we all ended up on the right side of sane. And when it comes to totally demented and barely-suitable-for-children nineties cartoon programming, Rocko’s Modern Life is the decade’s standard-bearer. The show premiered on Nickelodeon in 1993 and quickly became one of the most popular and well-regarded cartoons of the modern age.

Created by Joe Murray, Rocko’s Modern Life is a frenetic immersion into the minutia of adult life: something its target audience on Nickelodeon had absolutely no relationship with at the time. Each episode centers around Rocko, a nervous talking wallaby who hails from Australia, and the unfortunate situations he regularly finds himself in. Along for the ride are Spunky the dog, Heffer the steer, and his obsessive turtle neighbor Filbert. Rocko’s overall sense of dread and foreboding about the most mundane aspects of his life, like work or doing chores, quickly made him a generational icon.

The show was notorious for what it was able to sneak past censors, and quickly grew popular among adults. During its heyday, over 1/5 of the overall audience for the show was over the age of 18, and famous episodes like “Unbalanced Load” created instantly recognizable quotes such as "laundry day is a very dangerous day”.  The show ran for a total of four seasons and ended on November 24, 1996. Perhaps one of the reasons our generation is anxious and cynical is because everyone watched a children’s television program where the slogan of the main fictional company was, “We own you”. Thanks, Nickelodeon.

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