For you to have never of heard of Spongebob Squarepants, you must either live in a pineapple under the sea, under a rock or in an Easter Island head. Since 1999, the little yellow sponge that is Spongebob Squarepants has become an American icon. His face has been plastered on everything including clothing, food, beverages, stores, jewelry, etc. Simply put, if you have a pulse, you’ve seen Spongebob Squarepants sometime during your life. The show is impossible to avoid, which has become a problem over the years. As is the case with just about everything in life, the longer something goes on, the worse off it becomes until eventually it dies off. Like every kid growing up, I adored Spongebob and would watch it anytime it was on the television. However, now that it’s been spamming my television screen for the past 13 years, I have grown tired of the show and just want it to end already. Unfortunately, Nickelodeon does not agree with my viewpoint.
Spongebob Squarepants made its debut on Nickelodeon way back on May 1, 1999, following The Kids Choice Awards. The show centers around the crazy happenings of a yellow sponge who wears square pants and lives in a pineapple in the sea city of Bikini Bottom. That was one of the strong points to the show; the names of the characters were so direct, but at the same time creative. Spongebob’s best friend, Patrick Star, is a pink starfish that lives under a rock. As a young kid, I glanced over some of the details of this show that were so obvious to me now as a college student. Patrick was portrayed as the least intelligent character on the show, constantly saying or doing extremely dumb things that the average person would never think of. But the symbolism in Patrick’s character is the idea that he lives under a rock. The old saying of someone living under a rock is used when someone hasn’t heard of a something that is well-known to the rest of the world. In Patrick’s case, it’s logic that he’s never heard of and it’s perfectly fitting that he lives under a rock.
My favorite character in the show was without question Squidward Tentacles. Squidward, an octopus who lives in an Easter Island head, neighbors both Spongebob and Patrick, and hates both of them with a passion, although they believe that they are all best friends. Squidward is the show’s pessimist, offsetting Spongebob and Patrick’s severe optimism. He finds himself desperately searching for peace and quiet, attempting to live out his dream of being a famous clarinet player or artist, even though he is terrible at both. I see a lot of Squidward in myself and that is why I like him as much as I do. We both have a sheer disdain for those who are overly cheery and want nothing more than to be left alone the majority of the time. We both take comfort in being alone or being surrounded by others that share our same values. Of the 320 episodes that have aired, Squidward has made an appearance in 270 of them.
The secondary characters in Spongebob Squarepants is what has really allowed this cartoon to air as long as it has. They open up a plethora of different story lines to delay the feeling that the show has grown stale. Most notably is the business rivalry between Mr. Krabs, the owner of a fast-food burger joint called the Krusty Krab, and Plankton, the owner of a failing restaurant called the Chum Bucket. Again, great names that are both simple and creative. Several episodes center on Plankton attempting to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula using a variety of evil schemes, but in the end are foiled. The funniest episodes of the show come when Mrs. Puff, a puffer fish that is the driving instructor in Bikini Bottom, is a central character. Mrs. Puff secretly despises Spongebob because of the misery he has instilled upon her, as she has experienced 38 failed driving tests of his, usually ending with her being sent to the hospital on a stretcher. I always got a laugh when Spongebob would hit a wall or an obstacle and crash the boat, causing Mrs. Puff to puff up. I still laugh when I think of that image.
Now I used to absolutely love Spongebob Squarepants growing up. Don’t get me wrong; it was a great show. But all good things must come to an end and Nickelodeon is crazy to think that they can get by with showing 10+ hours of Spongebob Squarepants everyday. A network cannot rely on a cartoon lasting forever and Spongebob is clearly past its prime. Everything has an ending point. If a cartoon as great as Rugrats can’t last forever then there is no way Spongebob can escape the same fate. As of today, there have been 204 30-minute shows produced with 168 of them already aired. In total, there are 320 individual segments within those 168 episodes. Spongebob Squarepants has won 27 awards, including its fifth straight “Favorite Cartoon” award at the 2012 Kids Choice Awards. There have been 16 special episodes of the show, three television movies, one theatrical movie back in 2004 and a second movie that will premier on the big screen sometime in 2014. The eighth season of the show debuted on March 26 and the network has already announced that it has picked up Spongebob for a ninth season. It doesn’t look as if Nickelodeon is ready to pull the plug on Spongebob just yet, which is bad news for those of us who have had enough of his annoying, high-pitched laugh.