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“Tired of caring for your kids? Give them to us, and we'll raise them until they're 15!”
- ~ Nickelodeon company motto
Nickelodeon (also known as Nick) is a cable television channel that was once dedicated to surreal, grotesque programs aimed at children ages 2–12, up until they decide to switch to MTV. In the 1990s and early-mid 2000s, the channel churned out nostalgic cult classics such as All That, Kenan & Kel, Rugrats, Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, Invader Zim, Hey Arnold!, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and SpongeBob SquarePants seasons 1–3.
However, since the mid-2000s, numerous fans believe the network has undergone a significant decline in quality. At this time, several of Nick's older shows were cancelled, mediocre newer ones replaced them, the famous Nickelodeon Studios was closed down, and following a management shakeup, the network made the extreme economy move of sacking their old logo in an attempt to appeal to a "hip" new generation.
For over a decade at this point, nostalgic fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Buzzfeed have griped time and time again about Nickelodeon's alleged slide. Still, Viacom argues that the proof is in the pudding, and the niche that they sought — teen sitcoms with corny humor and interracial cuckold themes — has translated into greater sales of advertising.
edit 1977–91: Early years
Nick was initially launched in 1977 as Pinwheel, but changed its name to Nickelodeon in 1979. Geraldine Laybourne, the owner, founder, CEO, president, manager, and pseudo-goddess of the network, decided to import some low-quality Canadian and British kids' shows and air them on the channel, at no expense.
One such show was the hip, irreverent, and groundbreaking sketch-comedy You Can't Do That on Television. The show starred such iconic people and characters as Les Lye, Christine "Moose" McGlade, Ronald Reagan, and Barth. One of the show's trademarks was somebody getting slimed after replying "I don't know!" Slime was a staple of Nick for a while, but currently only appears in the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.
Throughout the '80s and early '90s, Nick stole more programming like Danger Mouse, David the Gnome, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Maya the Bee, The Tomorrow People, The Yesterday People, and The Today People. However, the respective copyright owners of these programs sued the network for copyright and trademark infringement and won big time, leaving Nick with nothing on their schedule in those timeslots.
They decided to save time by rerunning YCDTOTV over and over again, while in the meantime producing their own original series. The first was the Marc Summers game show Double Dare, which premiered in 1986. The show was an instant hit with critics and audiences across the country and helped put Nickelodeon on the map. Other shows produced during this time included Kids Court, the highly-controversial Kid Nation, Eureeka's Castle, Finders Keepers, Nick's attempt at courting the cowboy demographic with Hey Dude, and the short-lived Super Sentai parody dub Dynaman. It became expensive to produce these shows, so they were all immediately canceled as soon as the network opened their own studio in 1991.
edit 1991–98: Golden Age
The 1990s saw a noticeable shakeup for Nickelodeon. First, they opened up Nickelodeon Studios in the summer of 1991, where Nick would produce their live-action shows. Second, they eliminated 90% of mediocre foreign programming, infomercials, and subliminal messages on the channel. Third, they began to produce their own original animated series called "Nicktoons" (a parody of Cartoon Network's "Cartoon Cartoons"): cartoons with spunk and attitude.
The original three Nicktoons were: Doug, about a socially deficient tween boy; The Ren & Stimpy Show, a piece of anarchist propaganda centering on a mentally unstable talking dog and cat; and Rugrats, based on the lives of lumpily-shaped infants who walk, talk, go on crazy adventures, and somehow remain babies for 13 years. The writers of Nicktoons were children, forced to work to death à la the Industrial Revolution. These shows were a huge hit for the channel, particularly Rugrats which made millions of dollars for the channel and became their most reliable cash cow for the next 13 years.
The first show to be taped at Nickelodeon Studios was the game show Get the Picture, hosted by Anthony Hopkins, in which two teams had to guess pictures to win points. The show was short-lived, so the network decided to pour their money into more live-action such as Salute Your Shorts, Fifteen, Nick News, and Baywatch, all of which had varying degrees of success. Nick wanted to see their empire reach a teenage audience, so in 1996, they launched Kenan & Kel, which gained a cult following among orange soda drinkers.
As the Golden Age of Nick marched on, more Nicktoons were introduced such as Rocko's Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold!, and The Angry Beavers, each one less strange and more conventional than the last. In 1996, Laybourne resigned and was replaced by programming director Herb Scannell as Nick's president.
edit 1998–2005: Silver Age
Although Nick remained solid for the first two years under the watch of this Puerto Rican media mogul, fans believe the network started its decline quickly afterward, as numerous classic shows were cancelled and replaced with mediocre ones such as The Wild Thornberries, Rocket Power, and CatDog, most of which placed an emphasis on crude animation. '90s Nick historians generally pinpoint the release of The Rugrats Movie, with the introduction of the Poochie-like character Dil and the beginning of the show's decline, to be the end of the network's glory days. Nick ended the '90s by launcing their secret weapon, SpongeBob SquarePants, a highly addictive series with many jokes understandable by teens and adults, though it soon became Nick's cash cow and suffered a decline in quality a la Rugrats.
Following the turn of new millennium, Scannell launched two very addictive and dangerous Nicktoons: The Fairly OddParents and Invader Zim. These two series are considered to be some of the good shows aired on the channel, though Zim was later cancelled due to low ratings, as kids found themselves turned off by its grungy, warped sense of humor that likely induced nightmares in the young ones.
On February 21, 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender, widely considered to be the last show of Nick's Silver Age, premiered; its best episodes (season two), however, aired in the Bronze Age. Later that year, on April 30, Nickelodeon Studios was closed down because rat poison was accidently dumped into the cafeteria beef stew. According to many, this marked the end of Nick's Silver Age.
edit 2005–present: Bronze Age
After a government investigation and expired copyrights, most classic Nick shows were removed from the schedule around this time, replaced with teenybopper shows like Zoey 101 and Unfabulous and endless reruns of SpongeBob (which had recently been brought back for unfunny post-movie episodes); blocks like SNICK, U-Pick Live, and Friday Night Nicktoons were also canned around this time. Through this rebrand Nick was trying to be more like Disney Channel, losing their previous unique "grungy grossout" identity. On January 4, 2006, Scannell resigned from his post, being replaced by Cyma Zarghami as president of Nick, who more or less followed the blueprint of tweencoms and SpongeBob spamming that Scannell had set up shortly before he left.
Today, Nickelodeon has essentially morphed into a wannabe Disney Channel, only with more cuckolding-related subliminal messages. Nostalgic manbabies can cry if they want, but the niche that Cyma sought — softcore pornography with teen girls, usually directed by Dan "Get in the Van" Schneider — has proved to be a ratings success. Recently, the network has decided to do continuations of their older shows such as You Can't Do That on Television, Rocko's Modern Life, Invader Zim, Hey Arnold!, and Danny Phantom, to make some easy nostalgia bucks off Millennials with disposable income, as well as to mask the fact that they have been creatively bankrupt for over a decade.
Saturday Night Nickelodeon (SNICK) was a two-hour block of cheesy-yet-addictive sitcoms that aired on Saturday nights from 1992 to 2004. It was hosted by teenagers who sat on a Big
Comfy Orange Couch. This block has since become legendary and influential to other sketch comedy programs, including Saturday Night Live.
edit Nick at Nite
Nick at Nite is a programming block launched in 1985 as a place to dump off classic shows. Nostalgic viewers longing for a time when women stayed in the kitchen and minorities weren't allowed on golf courses flocked to the network to view these shows. Older viewers today still flock to it because it means a chance to watch something other than SpongeBob for the 20th time in one day.
NickSplat (formerly The 90s Are All That and The Splat) is a block on TeenNick consisting of nostalgic '90s Nick shows, despite teenagers being too young to remember most if not all of said shows. In 2015, it was renamed The Splat so it could include almost-nostalgic shows from the early 2000s such as As Told By Ginger, ChalkZone, and All Grown Up!, much to the dismay of viewers over the age of 30.
edit Innovative animation
Nicktoons have almost always been characterized by characters with sub-ape intelligence and distorted human figures, resulting in psychological trauma among children about their own identities and personalities. It is believed that Nick holds drawing competitions before releasing a series, and the worst drawing, or the most deformed, is what is chosen to misfortunately represent the series.
Nicktoons characters often have: square heads or American football heads, fat/huge rear legs, floating eyebrows, noses full of snot, 4 or 3 fingers on each hand, collars inspired by a wasp waist, giant brains, arrows in the head, and skin colors that can only be explained if human cells have chloroplasts.