Going back to those favourite cartoons you watched as a child normally leads to a lot of strange and confused realisations about that show. You may pick out now-obvious sexual innuendo (I’ll never forget the moment in Bee Movie when the grandpa bee shouts “I did it with a grasshopper once, her crazy legs had me up all night long!”), adult humour, jokes that reference something you’ve since seen / read / heard so can finally understand, and sometimes, the shows are downright creepy and you wonder how you ever sat through an episode at the age of 7 without crying.
Well, recently I went back to one of my old favourites, The Wild Thornberrys, because as far as my memory was concerned, that show was awesome. Or, in the words of Nigel, I thought it was ‘smashing!’
For the most part, it really is. I really like The Wild Thornberrys. It’s colourful, captivating, has talking animals (yes!) and you learn facts about said talking animals. No, my wonder at how I never noticed some things as a child began during an episode with a gas station man who had a captured hyena in a cage, that he then taunted with meat. His creepy line (grunt) was, “Wanna see him dance?”
I was also annoyed when, for the 3rd episode in a row, Eliza mucked shit up again. I wanted to face palm her face. That girl thinks she is always right – and doesn’t just leave it at thinking she’s right, she acts on it. She’s freeing hyenas willynilly, ditching Donnie, running through wildebeest, canoeing in arctic water, playing with cheetahs dying of thirst and then wondering why they’ve turned on her with the plans of making her lunch… Eliza thinks mostly of herself and assumes every animal she meets will love her. She also can’t stand it when somebody likes Debbie. She’s a loose cannon, who nearly gets herself and the family killed multiple times, all while sighing, squeaking and complaining nonstop.
When I was a kid, I thought Debbie was an over-reacting, whiny teenage brat. Little did I realise that Debbie acts this way because she lives with a group of people who isolate her, ignore her, ridicule her, and force her to live in an environment devoid of any safety, comfort, education options, or anything she is interested in. Every time Debbie purchases a CD player or ‘boom box’, Donnie, Darwin or Eliza either break it or throw it in water. This goes for everything Debbie buys – and she buys these things in an attempt to feel a part of the world she so desperately misses. Besides, teenager living in a van with your family non-stop? We’d all go crazy.
When it comes to Donnie I only have questions. Yes, after his parents were killed he was raised by an Orangutan for a year or two, but why oh why, does that mean he is irreversibly insane? Perhaps it is to do with the fact that Donnie is never disciplined (aside from the occasional scream from Debbie) nor does he receive education (Honestly, the boy isn’t speaking English yet and you’ve had him with you for 2 years? I think it’s time to work on that, sign language?) And also because he has never left the wilderness. No wonder the boy can’t move on from the world of his dead parents and adoptive, Orangutan mother – he still lives in it!
The mother of the group, Marianne, is constantly depressed over whether or not she’s bonding correctly with her daughters, yet never does much to correct this due to the constraints of her job. She’s also insanely jealous of any woman who comes close to Nigel (going so far as to injure her back when competing with one English beauty) which makes me worry for her ability to trust. This inability to bond or trust possibly comes from her overly-critical mother who feels the need to make Marianne feel bad about well, everything. Except for at the very end of the show when they need to make everything happy again. You know.
There are a few things you could say about Nigel Thornberry, as far as shortcomings go, but after everything I’d just like to wrap his whole bit up with saying he’s still awesome.
The Wild Thornberrys. I thought things were normal until I was older, I liked Eliza until I realised how impossible she is to like, I worry for Donnie and I feel a sense of pity for Debbie. Who would have thought. My only question is, are these things really there? Or now that I’m older and more cynical, and worn, do I just see them?
It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’m writing a critical essay on a kid’s television program. What happened to my life?