Kids cartoon deep cuts from the new millennium
Finally, friends, exam time is over. It’s time for us to relax, kick back, and spiral so far out of control from stress that we have to revert back to our childhood state. When I began to unwind for the start of summer, I found that regular Netflix contained too many real-world problems that could remind me of my own, so I only had one option: cartoons from the early 2000s.
While this seems like a childish way of blowing off steam, some of these gems will leave you feeling drunk on nostalgia (minus the hangover). Rewatching these shows will reunite you with some old cartoon pals, all with the added bonus of catching the innuendos you never understood as a kid. So, without further ado, here are a few kids cartoons worth illegally streaming this summer.
The Proud Family
Perhaps it’s Beyoncé’s musical influence, or perhaps it’s the quick pace of the character’s speech, but The Proud Family is always on the list of shows I cite when raving about the good TV I watched in my prepubescent days. Despite its plain animation and mostly static environments (most of the show takes place in the Proud Family home), the characters are nothing short of active. Loveable Penny navigates being a young teenager as her parents struggle to keep everyone under control (including Suga Momma, the grouchy old grandma).
The show can get a bit yell-y when the characters get out of hand, but The Proud Family contains many entertaining life lessons about anything from the joys of snack-making to the hazards of copyright infringement. More importantly, this show is one of the few of its time that features people of colour (in fact, it’s sometimes overt in the way it capitalized on the colour inverse to the point where Zoey is the token white friend in the show). It does rely on cultural stereotypes at times, but the exposure to these characters definitely does more good than harm. So turn this on and don’t you dare turn it off, because as Suga Momma always says — “I was watching that.”
EZ Jackster (Seasons 1, Episode 5)
Thelma and Luis (Season 3, Episode 2)
Don’t make me tell you twice — this show is a forgotten treasure in the chest of early 2000s kids cartoons. (Please don’t talk to me about Recess or The Weekenders. Everyone already knows those are great.) Jacob Two-Two is relaxing, mainly due to its self-contained episodes that mean you don’t need to follow along in any particular order, but also exhilarating with its grotesque aesthetic. Every episode is jam-packed with kooky characters and entertaining references to places in Canada, but what really turns this show from basic cable to an outrageous fav is the way the adult characters participate in the ridiculousness rather than only teach the audience life lessons. Need an example? Just look out for Ms. Sour Pickle and X. Barnaby Dinglebat in the next episode you watch. Also, I’ll forever be in love with Jacob’s oldest brother Daniel. He’s so cool. He’s so cool!
“Jacob Two-Two and the Bookworm Brouhaha” (Season 3, Episode 12)
“Jacob Two-Two and the Super Special Skates” (Season 3, Episode 9)
The Magic School Bus
So this show is a bit older than the others, airing in the late 1990s, but it’s definitely worth mentioning because it’s getting a revival soon (HELLO, Kate McKinnon as the wacky Ms. Frizzle). Not only does this show have the catchiest theme song of all time (it’s been in my head for weeks!), but it is chock full of zany educational adventures that are still more fun than sitting in a classroom. The Magical School Bus also gets points on the diversity scale for at least attempting to have a wide range of students in the main cast. I would highly recommend catching up on a few of your old favourites before the revival comes out.
I did notice one thing upon watching it again: some of the things they do are kind of gross, especially the episodes about the body. When the class tries to figure out how Arnold’s skin turns orange, for example, his classmates shrink down and literally burrow into his skin via his skin cells to investigate. That’s the price of science I guess — you take chances, you get messy, and you make mistakes!
“Inside Ralphie” (Season 1, Episode 3)
“The Busasaurus” (Season 2, Episode 3)
Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends
Yes, I know, BuzzFeed already beat me to this one, but for good reason. Possibly the freshest cartoon out there, Foster’s is what I consider the precursor to Adventure Time-esque stoner cartoons. This show has the round and colourful style similar to The Powerpuff Girls that’s pleasing to look at and fun to watch; the cast of characters are sassy and all have minds of their own, which creates a breeding ground for conflict; and the setting of a massive house leaves a lot of room for exploration and creates a feeling of endless possibilities for storylines.
But what’s most impressive about this show is the subtle commentary that teaches kids about accepting people with differing abilities. Each episode hinges on accepting one of the imaginary friends in the home, who is often an outcast at first because of their different physical and mental make-up. This idea of inclusion provides the very foundation of the show as Mack, the main character, creates his imaginary friend, Bloo, to gain an ally and escape from a troubled home life. This show deserves a 10/10, but only if you can stand Cheese.
“The Big Cheese” (Season 4, Episode 8)
“Duchess of Wails” (Season 3, Episode 5)
Ed, Edd, and Eddy
This one also flies under the radar for a few reasons: the characters are fairly annoying, it’s not outrageously artistic, and the jokes rely a lot on slapstick and preteen boy ignorance. But that’s what makes it the perfect brainless cartoon to catch up on.
Considering Ed, Edd, and Eddy ran for around 10 years, wrapping up in 2009, it’s strange how rarely it gets talked about (especially considering the whole thing was created on a dare by a cartoonist at Hanna Barbara back in the late ‘90s). So, even if you don’t remember this one, go give it a try. If an old episode doesn’t have you bit by the nostalgia bug, at least you’ll probably be able to relate to the Eds’ lust over Jawbreakers. (Do they still make those? And, if so, where can I get them?)
“The Ed-touchables / Nagged to Ed” (Season 1, Episode 1)
“Brother, Can You Spare an Ed? / The Day the Ed Stood Still” (Season 3, Episode 11)
It’s summer time, so pull up a bean bag chair, get a Chewy granola bar, grab a Kool-Aid Jammer, and make sure to enjoy some of these past classics. Your brain will thank you.