it's his shirt tails
November 28, 2017 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Even Hey Arnold!'s city is gentrifying now After more than a decade off the air, Arnold is coming back to TV this week for Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie. In the show’s timeline, just one year has passed. But Hillwood, their fictional city, has clearly changed. Just like the the real-life places it’s based on, Arnold’s historic neighborhood has been discovered by hipsters.
Arnold lives in that supercool attic room with that fun ladder up his wall and he goes out the skylight and he looks out at the cityscape. I really wanted his room to be very urban. The idea was, Arnold can come and go. He doesn’t have any parental supervision—his mom and dad are missing and his grandma and grandpa are pretty easy going. So I made it this fantasy city life where he could go out the fire escape and meet his friends in the middle of the night and go on some adventure. That was really idealized, but I think that’s how cartoons get to be, because you’re basically making something aspirational for kids where they say, “Gosh, I wish I could live like that.”
Hey Arnold is TV’s best show about growing up in a big city as it opened the minds of a generation

Don't know where to start? 10 episodes that show the appeal Hey Arnold! held for kids and parents

Looking back, there's 6 Major Things I Realized After Rewatching 'Hey Arnold!' As An Adult, especially that Hey Arnold premiered 20 years ago, but its hard lessons are still as relevant as ever, like how there are 15 Reasons Hey Arnold Is Actually About Depression And Economic Struggle and 19 Weird Things You Never Knew About Hey Arnold!

Hey Arnold! dealt with development and gentrification in the series' first movie, making it ahead of its time as it portrayed the benefits of urban design - "the episode depicts the importance of open, common space in neighborhoods as they provide a focal point for community activity;"

The Quiet Poeticism Of Hey Arnold
The sad undertone in Hey Arnold! is what makes it such a masterpiece of children’s television to me. It’s like being pitched softball versions of real life big kid problems you’ll have to deal with when you grow up, and it equips you with solutions, or how to deal with a lack of solutions, so you’re ready. The complexity of characters and stories wasn’t out of reach for little kids, and even if they were, it was notable enough that you’d remember as an adult and think back on what you missed. It wasn’t pushy or preachy; it talked about life as it happened. There was no explicit social commentary or circle-back on what we’ve learned in the past 24 minutes. It just was.
The Real Story Behind Arnold's Parents Will Make You Cry
posted by the man of twists and turns (10 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Gosh I loved loved LOVED watching Hey Arnold with my oldest, back in the day.

Also Stinky saying turlet for toilet is something even my ex and I can still laugh about together.
posted by Caxton1476 at 8:26 PM on November 28

My favourite episode of Hey Arnold! was the one where they turned the vacant block of land into a baseball field. Unsurprisingly, the episode is called The Vacant Lot. I don't really know why, but it stuck with me after all these years. Maybe that as a collective group, you can make a difference - but then adults ruin all your hard work anyway? *shrugs*
posted by liquorice at 8:32 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]

I think about Harold's Bar Mitzvah on occasion, and it always makes me smile.

I haven't seen the Hey Arnold movie, but it will be interesting to contrast what they did here, with just one year passing, with the upcoming Rocko’s Modern Life's movie, where they're going to send the gang to space for 20 years and make them come back to deal with an even more modern life.

(Bonus plug for San Francisco area people with a 90s Nickelodeon problem: Rocko’s Modern Life panel at Sketchfest in January)
posted by zachlipton at 8:49 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]

I wanted so badly to like Hey Arnold! as a kid, but for some reason it never grabbed me. I think was getting a little
"too old" at the time, and hadn't gotten sufficiently "old enough" yet to not give a shit what anyone else might think of me for watching a cartoon that was aimed at an age demographic younger than me.

Perhaps it's time to go back and give it the real chance it never got, because all I read about it says to me that it laid the foundation for the stronger narratively driven cartoons of this era, ones which I really love.

It wouldn't be right for me to ignore that history.

Also his grandpa has a dickface, so there's that.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:54 PM on November 28

The Christmas episode is an episode I think about often, where Arnold's Secret Santa partner is Mr. Hyunh and he reunites him with his lost daughter Mai and Helga makes the ultimate sacrifice of giving up her own gift because of her love/crush for Arnold. It warms my heart.

I may not give this a watch because I'm not sure I can go back, not sure I want to go back if I'm being honest. I want to keep these memories of the joy I had watching this show along with others like: Rock's Modern Life, Recess, and all those other Nickelodeon cartoons from my teenage years, I want to keep those feelings warm and safe, in that lens of nostalgia. I'm not sure they'd hold up today under the scrutiny of 2017.
posted by Fizz at 9:02 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure they'd hold up today under the scrutiny of 2017.

That surprises me, considering the thrust of this FPP is that Hey Arnold! was dealing with concepts like poverty and gentrification before those were hot button issues to talk about.

Rocko's Modern Life dealt with a lot of stuff in that wheelhouse, too. Although it took on a much more satirical tone. But you had ineffective superheroes like Really Really Big Man, you had episodes where people dealt with the problems of power, like when Filburt taking over the comic book shop goes to his head and he treats Rocko like crap, and even more importantly, you had Conglom-O, whose corporate slogan was literally "We Own You." It even preceded South Park with internal self-commentary with The Fatheads television show that Rocko & Co liked to watch (South Park's obviously being the Terrance & Phillip show).

Of all the shows that would be hurt by the trash-heap that is 2017, I honestly don't think Rocko could suffer that much, because it certainly felt like a big part of the show was satirizing the very things that lead us to the world of 2017. Overreaching corporate ownership, a general feeling of helplessness and lack of income, cult worship (the sausage cult is one of the best episodes, bar none.), and gluttony.

Maybe it's just me, but Rocko always seemed kind of darkly aware of how fucked we were out of the gate.
posted by deadaluspark at 9:15 PM on November 28 [5 favorites]

The flashback scene in the therapy episode where a pre-school Helga gets increasingly neglected and ignored by her parents and then mocked by other kids and she's so alone until finally Arnold goes out of his way to be nice and include her... ALL OF MY FEELS. That episode is the most vivid in my head 20 years later. Helga absolutely was the best character, a little girl who wore pink dresses and a bow in her hair but had this fiery temper and abrasive attitude and took shit from nobody. She was allowed to be flawed, not always likeable, and yet she had reasons for how she acted that kept her from being a one-note bully and allowed the audience to empathize with the emotional turmoil of her childhood.

And she was supposed to be our first female president, damn it! Helga Pataki 2026!
posted by ProtectoroftheSmall at 9:41 PM on November 28 [8 favorites]

The interview from that first link is interesting because it would not ever had occurred to me that Hey Arnold's city was in any way inspired by Seattle or Portland - I just assumed it was a simulacrum of Brooklyn or Philly, maybe parts of Chicago? Row homes, subways, brownstone stoops, corner delis, total lack of greenery...Craig Bartlett says he found architectural inspiration in Seattle, Portland and Tacoma but maybe there's something I'm missing completely.
posted by windbox at 10:21 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]

Helga deserves better than that football-headed loser.
posted by Segundus at 1:29 AM on November 29 [4 favorites]

Huh, as 10-12 year old and even now, I had always assumed that it was heavily inspired by or set in (even though they never name the city), NYC (ok, not the lower manhattan parts) with the stoops, subways, row houses, density, public schools being named PS #, being an immigrant enclave.

Looking back, it probably subconsciously reinforced my love of cities that I had even as an adolescent.

I was watching that baseball lot episode a couple months ago on Hulu, and instantly thought of the perils of the neighbors' clashing ideas for the lot as an adult.
posted by fizzix at 12:31 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]

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