Animaniacs: The Scathing Cognitive Dissonance with Nostalgia (Opinion)

It didn't take a show like Animaniacs to show us our current obsession with nostalgia, but the fact the revival's premiere mainly focused on that is far more telling about how we are in our society. When studios dangle familiar IP in front of us, we want a lot of what worked in the original show to continue the way it has before its success. The truth of the matter is given the current revivals, prequels, and sequels, there are tons of things that changed whether you want to admit or not.

Animaniacs Jurassic Park Clip | A Hulu Original
Animaniacs Jurassic Park Clip | A Hulu Original

Hate to Break it to You, But They're Not the Same Shows

For the purposes of this argument, let's stick to television. So here are a few things people need to think about when seeing we see new stories with our favorite characters. First, one way or another, the show changed creatively. There are few IP out there that has the same parts driving it even if you have original stars attached. For the most part with new stories, you're likely going to get contemporary updates like Twin Peaks, Arrested Development, and The X-Files. As a byproduct of their times, there's something that's just off when these past characters use contemporary tech when it wasn't available then like smartphones. You also run into the issue of what keeps driving them. If the original series tied up most things major to the character, what would drive them to continue on when the arcs were already largely tied up? Most of these characters are also often much older so how many times will they go to the "old" well, recycling jokes about a person/character's age? Before long, you might see it on the expressions of the actors' faces about "What are they doing here" doing the same things over again. So are we part of the joke or is the joke being played on us for wanting it so bad?

I certainly felt that way when The X-Files made another run in their 11th season that was so bad, star Gillian Anderson was all too happy to quit before the finale ran its course. When Beavis and Butthead came back, not once did I laugh whereas there were plenty of times when I laughed during their original run on MTV. The MTV revival, not the upcoming one from Comedy Central, swapped the music videos for the cable network's reality programming. Was the humor actually worse or did I just grow out of the show? Keep in mind, nothing about the series changed to catch up to the 2010s. It was still stuck within its world with the two still in high school.

Can "Animaniacs" Make Up Its Mind Who They're Selling the Show To?

Where am I going with this? Well, on the Hulu revival of Animaniacs, the musical number was supposed to be some commentary about our obsession with nostalgia even with it faces some contemporary tweaks. I'm not really sure what it's supposed to evoke other than the awkward pop culture-related laugh. The series evoked Jurassic Park, rather than its more current Jurassic World in the opening. Really, I just found it largely depressing that "this" is what they chose to come back with. This almost felt like Beavis and Butthead all over again. Not once did I laugh, but just felt old. So are they marketing to kids or those of us who watched Animaniacs are now very much adults, who need to be reminded not only are we old, but super old? From the opening and the lack of bringing back their other characters and giving this "refined" version, it feels like they should have just stayed in the Warner Bros tower instead. Hell, if you're going to distinguish yourselves and market to us "adults" then you might as well just use "adult" language instead of keeping up the charade that you're trying to be the "same" show you were over 20 years ago.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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