Tuned In

Robo-James' Time Machine: Nostalgia for the Young People!

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Robo-James’ Time Machine has been indulging in my nostalgia all this week, but the delightful thing about America is that nostalgia is no longer merely for the old. In July, Nickelodeon began running a block of ’90s kids’ shows in late night, for not-that-alter-kockers (call them alternakockers?) who want to remember the hits of their recent childhood, including Doug, Kenan & Kel and Clarissa Explains It All.

Even as someone who was an adult in the ’90s, I have to admit that that was a motherlode of classic Nick, though my own memories run more to Ren & Stimpy, Catdog and The Adventures of Pete and Pete. But I understand that Tuned Inland includes readers of less-advanced ages, so I ask you: what do you miss about these shows? Was it a more innocent time? Were you more innocent? And what I’m most curious about: how old were you when you first found yourself feeling seriously nostalgic for your childhood?

Premature nostalgia is not a sudden phenomenon; it was the premise of one of the funniest Onion articles ever, in 1997.  But the cycle is at least accelerating. (Read my colleague Claire Suddath’s take on the re-emergence of the ’90s.) There is probably a theory in here somewhere—about, say, how recent generations of young people have lost the optimism that their lives would be better than their parents and thus, somehow recognizing that their youngest years would be the best they would ever know, look back on them longingly as soon as they detect a whiff of adult life.

But I would probably talk myself into believing that theory, and then I would get really depressed. So let’s talk about old TV shows instead! What was the greatest thing Nick ever produced? And who wants to place bets on when iCarly and Phineas and Ferb get their own nostalgia blocks?