T.V. We're Not Ashamed of Watching

Stephanie Mlinarcik explores the underwater world of fun that is Spongebob Squarepants.

by Stephanie Mlinarcik
The Collegian Online - Washington College
Volume 13 / Issue 2 / November 2001

He's yellow.

He's absorbent.

He lives in a pineapple under the sea.

He's SpongeBob Squarepants, and he's a new hero in the ever-evolving cartoon world. With a catchy theme song, quirky plots, and a sometimes-goofy-sometimes-sarcastic sense of humor, Nickelodeon's SpongeBob Squarepants has this college student hooked.

Created by Stephen Hillenberg, SpongeBob takes the random humor of The Simpsons, subtracts all the screaming political innuendoes, and fuses it with the cause-and-effect formula that worked so well for Seinfeld. The characters are predictable, but their situations and how they resolve them are not. It may be this type of humor that generates a strong adult following: according to Time, Nielsen Media Research data shows a third of the show's viewers are adults. SpongeBob has also had a few special guests on the show, such as the band Ween and, most notably, as King Neptune, John O'Hurley, the actor who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld and is currently host of the game show To Tell the Truth.

Every weeknight at eight o'clock the TV is turned on and tuned in to the frisky square-panted one and his aquatic world of Bikini Bottom, a subterranean city in the Pacific Ocean. He lives in his pineapple home with his meowing pet snail, Gary, and begins each day with his traditional song of "I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready eddy eddy ready!" SpongeBob's next-door neighbor, the sarcastic and clarinet-playing squid, Squidward Tentacles, loves nothing more than himself and hates nothing more than being nice, especially to SpongeBob and his friends. After all, SpongeBob's foghorn alarm wakes him up every morning in his posh Easter Island-head home. Squidward's desire to be an artist coupled with his dead-end life in Bikini Bottom makes him bored and belligerent. His April Fool's joke included slamming SpongeBob in walls and dunking him into fish guts. Despite his narcissism and hostility, Squidward adds dry humor and a quick wittiness to the show and is a well-placed foil to SpongeBob's nasal giggle and general silliness.

SpongeBob and Squidward both work at The Krusty Krab fast-food restaurant for Mr. Krabs. Mr. Krabs is a money-loving crab with a Scottish accent and a blue whale for a daughter. At The Krusty Krab SpongeBob is the number one fry cook in Bikini Bottom, and he loves nothing more than to make Krabby Patties, the city's favorite treat among its walking fish and body building lobsters. SpongeBob is such a worthy fry cook that only he could pull the golden spatula out of a big tub o' fat and grease and only he can create a better burger than King Neptune.

When SpongeBob is not working for Mr. Krabs or annoying Squidward, he is usually hanging out with his best bud, Patrick Star. Patrick is the lovable, chubby pink starfish who lives under a rock and possesses half the IQ of Homer Simpson. He and SpongeBob often go jelly fishing, which usually ends painfully but delightfully for the both of them. They may get stung, but the simple joy of running around and chasing jellyfish with a net is enough to keep them entertained and enthusiastic. The two of them get into strange situations that begin weirdly, continue strangely, and end the only way they can: hilariously. In one episode, SpongeBob becomes his boating school's hall monitor, and he gives Patrick a walkie-talkie and makes him his deputy (complete with an ice-cream cone hat). SpongeBob rains havoc on Bikini Bottom while trying to stop crime and help innocent citizens. While acting as traffic cop at a broken stoplight, SpongeBob creates a fifty-boat pile-up. When Patrick finds out that there is a "maniac" on the loose, he radios SpongeBob and they try to find one another. While at a street corner, Patrick sees the maniac under a street lamp. Much to SpongeBob's dismay, he is under the same lamp. While trying to run away, Patrick watches as the maniac chases SpongeBob. Of course, in the end, SpongeBob realizes that he is the maniac that has been destroying the city.

SpongeBob and Patrick's gal pal, Sandy Cheeks, is the extreme sports-loving squirrel from Texas who lives in a tree in an air dome and walks around the watery world in an astronaut suit. She hibernates every winter (it actually snows in her air dome), much to the confusion of SpongeBob and Patrick. She loves to play karate with SpongeBob, where they chop the crap out of each other.

With its irrepressible antics and personality-defected characters, SpongeBob Squarepants is funny enough for kids and intelligent enough for adults. For college students, both of these qualities combined makes for a whoppin' whale of a good wet time.

So, are you ready kids?

I'm ready eddy eddy.