“Why is it that when you miss somebody so much that your heart is ready to disintegrate, you always hear the saddest song ever on the radio?”
– Old Pete (played by Michael C. Maronna)
Being a child of the 90’s, most of my youth was spent in front of that giant orange blob commonly known as the Nickelodeon channel. I would waste away hours of my life sitting in front of the boob tube laughing at the hijinks of The Amanda Show, All That, Keenan and Kel, and the rest of the typical Nickelodeon lineup. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t watch television, as sad as that may sound.
It’s no secret that what we’re told on television at an early age can affect us as we grow, after all there’s a reason children’s shows teach us the very core of being a decent human being: to share, to say please, and thank you, to ask permission, look both ways, the basics. For children, television is purely an educational tool, and is rightfully so.
That being said, when is the age that we switch from watching television for knowledge, to watching television for entertainment? Surely, there comes a time when learning how to share fifty times a day grows old, and we want to watch something else.. Something a little more, demanding? A little more “our age”? With so many options, so many channels, it seems like a nightmare.
However, there are those few frequency chasers who dare intercept the world of television. Those who beam through the digital channels of Disney, Nick, and Cartoon Network. We’ve crossed the streams of satellites, searching for a show worthy of your viewership.
I too have plugged in, and discovered this little gem.
Yes! This little puppy’s full name is actually “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”, and sadly this show did not grace my childhood. Despite being raised in the 90’s, I just never saw Pete & Pete on TV that much, which is a shame in retrospect. I sort of “rediscovered” this show a few years ago from my ex girlfriends older brother, and came to find it’s got somewhat of a cult following.
The show follows the two brothers, both named Pete and both red-haired, as they go about their lives in the Wrigley household. That’s the premise of the entire show, a family’s coming-of-age story for two brothers. But did I mention their best friend is the strongest man in the world? Yes, Pete & Pete cleverly fuses the previously mentioned gap between entertainment and education by giving us humorous characters like Artie, Mr. Frosty, Open-Face, The Nightcrawlers, and the Halloweenies, all the while still delivering a very real and unique take on growing up in modern suburbia.
Surely there were a lot of shows at the time, and still today, that cover the wide field of “growing-up”, perhaps some even better than the now possibly outdated Pete & Pete. However what newer shows make up for in modernization and newer graphics, Pete & Pete still wins out as far as being actually relatable. While there are the few rare occasions of upper-white class teens actually being online celebrities (a la iCarly), the majority of television shows watched by children or pre-teens today depict situations that are so far different from modern life, that these children almost seem upset that their lives aren’t exactly the same as what they see on the TV.
Mind you I am not a father. I’ve never had kids, and am only stating what I’ve observed difference-wise between the television of my youth compared to the television of today’s youth. I’m also not saying that these shows are necessarily bad.
What I am saying, is that while these shows may be entertaining, they pale in comparison to the combination of entertainment and education that The Adventures of Pete & Pete brought to the table. This show is the closest comparison I can make to what growing up for me was actually like. I was just a boy, with a small group of friends, doing random, stupid things. I didn’t know every single person at school, and I wasn’t obsessed with girls or buying new things. Pete & Pete successfully depicts the reality of an average American middle-class household. On top of that, it relates to not only little brothers, but older brothers, fathers, mothers, and friends.
- There is an episode where we learn how to handle older brothers getting girlfriends.
- There’s an episode on how to handle our little brothers being bullied.
- There’s an episode on what to do when a different man hits on your mother.
- There’s an episode on handling long road trips with the family.
- There’s an episode on how to let go of imaginary friends.
This list could go on for a while, but I want to save some for those who actually want to watch. The show tackles topics that usual shows never actually want to approach, or even would think to consider discussing, and does it in a quirky, successful way. I can only imagine how much easier my life would have been seeing others deal with these issues like I had, and I hope this applied to the rest of my little viking friends as well.