Nicktoon Classic Parody Review: The Ren & Stimpy Show and Rocko's Modern Life (by a R&S fanboy)

xandermartin98
Ah, Ren & Stimpy...honestly, what else can really be said about this show that hasn’t already been said before? Coming out in almost the exact turning point from the 1980s to the 1990s (1991, to be exact) and very suspiciously running for literally the EXACT same number of episodes (52, to be exact, as in B-52’s) that its pathetically lame and stupid "wallaby" ripoff Rocko’s Modern Life did, this show revolutionized the art of gross-up close-up animation in a way that countless cartoons since then would later go on to annoyingly try to imitate even though they could never even DREAM of doing it halfway as effectively (just to name a few particularly overrated turds from Nickelodeon ALONE: Spongebob, Invader Zim and the aforementioned Rocko series).

And if you were to ask me what ELSE the show revolutionized notably enough to warrant the utterly absurd amount of nostalgic fanboy praise that CONSTANTLY gets heaped onto it by its fans (many of which are outright anti-Rocko nazis, need I mention, and rightfully)...well then, I quite honestly don’t think I would even be able to give any answer other than LITERALLY EVERYTHING THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE ABOUT NICKELODEON, at least not with a straight face.

Well, in all fairness, I will admit that this show isn’t quite what I would call a COMPLETE magnum opus of solid-gold perfection; much like Invader Zim (as in what Invader Zim's sissy wrist-slitting emo-teen fangirls make it out to be), it also has a rather surprising amount of flaws to it if you know where to look...as in absolutely NONE apart from that icky Adult Party spin-off, am I right or am I right?

The show’s plot (more accurately its John-K-approvedly preferable lack thereof, because after all, who am I kidding; plots are for EEDIOTS) consists of the daily misadventures of the hilariously ugly, freakishly skinny, skitting-bats-insane, horrifyingly violent-tempered, gratuitously Peter-Lorre-impersonating chihuahua Ren Höek (who looks more like a hideously deformed rat with human toenails and fingernails if anything) and his almost literally brainlessly naive mad-scientist best friend and literal “fat cat” Stimpson J Cat (who naturally looks like more like a grossly obese blue-nosed dog) as they exchange breathtakingly glorious Looney Toons slapstick sight gags and masterfully subtly-acted-out lines of dialogue with each other.

Okay, granted, Rocko’s Modern Life IS often described in a pretty similar manner by its pretentious hipster fanboys who are clearly blind and have absolutely NO idea what a REAL cartoon is, but the fact (yes, FACT) that Ren & Stimpy was actually drawn (read: DRAWN) by someone who wasn’t a completely pretentious, mainstream-hating, line-squiggling pillock like Joe Murray is what really makes the difference between the two.

Needless to say, the show is visually one of THE most jaw-droppingly beautifully animated Western cartoons I honestly think I’ve ever seen in my entire life (I can almost guarantee you that even Spirited Away, let alone that overrated piece of garbage that Rocko is, is most likely weeping in its cultural relevance grave with envy right now), and to give John credit where credit is due, the characters really DO manage to say more about themselves through mere facial expressions and body language than most modern-day cartoon characters can through actual words (that, and even when the characters actually DO talk, the voice acting for them is nothing short of awe-inspiring, ESPECIALLY regarding that of the hilariously psychotic yet deeply relatable Ren himself)...

and at the end of the day, a social-commentary cartoon of this deliciously dark and edgy nature lives and dies on whether or not it can make an actual, properly structured, non-pretentious, non-LOL-so-random joke (let alone episode plot) to save its life, and for the most part, this show fails spectacularly in this regard in almost every possible way that you could think of in which Rocko fails miserably.

Overall, especially when taking into account how absolutely revolutionary it was for its time, this show retrospectively gets a solid 25/10; if you haven't binge-watched this show all the way through in your kiddie pajamas, then you haven't lived yet, believe me.

Now let’s move on to Joe Murray’s almost equally legendary nostalgic cult classic Rocko’s Modern Life, a much stupider, MUCH uglier, ironically less adult-themed and infinitely more pretentiously written (excuse for a) show that came out roughly two years later in 1993, ended in the exact year as its predecessor (1996; gee, I sure do WONDER why, HMM), had a theoretically-refreshingly-but-in-reality-annoyingly similar emphasis on "delightfully weird and grotesque art-style” shenanigans and majestically opulent gross-out humor (which later went on to bless MANY of the other Nicktoons after it, most definitely including Spongebob Squarepants, which was basically just a higher-budget and ironically EVEN suckier version of THIS colossally overrated poop-stain upon the fabric of 1990s animation, largely by virtue of being made by quite a few of the exact same unprofessional and untalented WASTES of people) and was understandably widely accused of outright John K copyright theft as a result (which the show unfortunately never actually got sued for, even though it sure as HELL should have).

However, fret not, fellow enlightened members of society that actually KNOW a boring and generic everyday sitcom when they see its intro; while I certainly won’t deny that the show’s art style LOOKS startlingly like the inbred, equally deformed bastard child of Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats (and is executed nowhere NEAR as masterfully as that of the former), I simply cannot stress enough that where the show REALLY sprays its skunk gas (and more importantly tries and fails laughably to stylistically separate itself from its competition) really does lie very much in the often far-beyond-exceptionally uncreative and cliched way that it’s written (through improv, no less, meaning that there is absolutely NO excuse whatsoever). To say that I wouldn’t exactly call it PURE concentrated genius like a lot of people do is like saying that the overtly anti-R&S portion of its fans are a bunch of pompous, bigoted, double-standard-setting idiots; it's an UNDERSTATEMENT to say the least.

Basically a "look at me, I'm, like, SO cerebral and edgy and stuff" counterpart to Doug, RML’s plot (more specifically its incredibly boring, irritating and personal-attention-span-exhausting presence thereof) revolves around the insanely unoriginal and soullessly cash-grabbing (at least on its creators' part) life of a ridiculously ugly-shirted anthro wallaby named Rocko (who also looks a bit like a genetic fusion of the two title characters from Wallace & Gromit, if they were both worthlessly depressed bums eating out of dumpsters out on the New York City streets, that is) as he goes through an astonishingly boring, "LOL-so-relatable" and often disturbingly generic variety of “mundane made slightly less mundane” misadventures ranging from "going here" to "going there" to "doing this" and "doing that" and everything in between. And yes, the positively ridiculous amount of furry-fanservice (most ESPECIALLY foot-fetish fanservice) undertones and flat-out “adult show VERY un-cleverly disguised as a kids’ show” overtones more-often-than-not running through the show’s veins just adds to the overall lameness and stupidity of it all.

But Rocko’s "hilariously" dumb dog Spunky having his own ludicrously boring and cliched sitcom WITHIN an already ridiculously boring and cliched sitcom (starring the tick-and-ringworm duo feeding off of his body, no less) aside, where the show REALLY blows rear is in its side characters. Between Rocko’s morbidly obese, predictably bird-brained, eardrum-gratingly high-pitched-voiced steer buddy Heffer Wolfe (who was literally raised by wolves and still lives in their basement during what is implied to be AT LEAST his mid-twenties) and his creepy, four-eyed, stereotypically Jewish, Woody-Allen-impersonating Doug-Lawrence-voiced weeaboo turtle friend Filburt ALONE, there is seriously almost NEVER an un-completely dull moment (ESPECIALLY character-wise) in this show, its countless done-to-death sitcom clichés most definitely not helping either (in fact, if you want to see some of THE most overrated pre-Squidward “angry neighbor” characters to ever grace cartoons, look no further than the Bigheads).

Overall, while the show DOES have some pretty alright moments and episodes scattered throughout it, can honestly get rather unsettlingly adult-oriented in its Season One portion (for a complete and utter BABY SHOW, at least), occasionally even ALMOST (but not quite) begins to approach the astonishing memorability and genuine shock-factor level of some of the things that happened (to Ren) in Ren & Stimpy, and admittedly has far from the WORST animation style I've ever seen, this show is really just a plain ridiculously overrated and downright mediocre watered-down ripoff to a far superior show that takes the hilariously in-your-face adult humor from Animaniacs and the razor-sharp social satire and slapstick gags from classic Cow And Chicken and effectively slams the best of both worlds together in THE absolute best possible way (AND with astoundingly colorful and flashy character designs, animation and artwork at that). Overall, partially just to spite it for being so INCREDIBLY overrated, 3/10

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