Hey Arnold is one of my favorite animated tv shows as a child. Hey Arnold was a Nickelodeon show in the mid-90s about elementary school children and their everyday life. Following Arnold, an only child that is living with his grandparents, he navigates life as a 4th grader at PS 118. With a classroom full of odd characters, this show presented real-life situations of elementary school children and how they navigated those situations.
Hey Arnold was made as a cityscape similar to Seattle, Washington in the fictional town of Hillside. Creator Craig Bartlett was from the area and wanted to depict an animated city that was like where he grew up. Bartlett, while working on Rugrats, came up with the Penny Tapes, which had Arnold as a side character. Nickelodeon loved Arnold and the origin of Hey Arnold was born.
Arnold started as a pilot that showed after Harriet the Spy. It had good reception, so they continued with the full series. Hey Arnold was the first animated show to have an actual child voice the characters that were children instead of adults. Hey Arnold, wrapped in 2004 and had a movie to end the series that aired in 2002. It was then rebooted as another movie in 2017, where Arnold went on a jungle journey to find his parents.
Hey Arnold comprises many characters. Phil and Gertrude are the parental figures in Arnold’s life. They own a boarding house that has 7 tenants: Mr. Hyunh, Oskar and Suzie, Mr. Smith, Ernie, Lana, and Mr. Prudy. Gerald is Arnold’s African-American best friend, who is the middle child of his family. Helga is the antagonist of the series, who is in love with Arnold but doesn’t want anyone to know. She is best friends with the nerdy Phoebe. There are also many schoolmates that make regular appearances. There are also faculty members and people around the city that also make regular appearances.
I watched select episodes that were significant in the Hey Arnold canon. As someone who watched the show religiously back in the day, it was pretty easy to spot these. These episodes had important elements to create the characters’ backstories.
The first one I watched was season 1 episode 3 Arnold’s Hat/Stoop Kid. Each episode has two mini-episodes into one. They are about 12 minutes each. Arnold frequently has different daydreams that we get to see throughout the series. We also get to see his amazing bedroom. I think everyone was jealous of the bedroom back in the day. A loft with a sunroof. It was amazing. We see Helga taking a piece of chewed gum from Arnold. Which is very creepy. And a shrine to Arnold, which is even more creepy. Honestly, this girl really needs help. Her goal in this episode is to steal Arnold’s beloved hat. The hat that he won’t take off even to shower.
After a few failed attempts, Arnold’s hat falls off and ends up with Helga. Helga really shows how much she needs some mental health help. Arnold is then very sad because his hat is gone. It is shown that his parents gave him the hat, and that is why it is so special. The hat ended up getting thrown away. The lesson Arnold is attempting to learn is that he can survive without his hat and people will like him, regardless. Helga finds his hat in the trash and gives it to Arnold.
Then we move on to another short episode that is Stoop Kid. This episode is pretty legendary for the Hey Arnold universe. Stoop Kid is an urban legend about a kid who never leaves his stoop. Arnold has to get a football that is on the stoop. He is attempting to find a time when Stoop Kid is distracted to leave the stoop. Arnold ends up making a rumor that ends up hurting Stoop Kid’s feelings and because Arnold is a good person, he wants to make it right.
He takes his time to show Stoop Kid more stoops out there in the world. He attempts to get him to be bold and leave his stoop. Stoop Kid eventually left his stoop and realized he was okay. What happened was not great though, because Stoop Kid ended up being a bully.
The other episode I watched was School Play Season 3 Episode 20. Arnold and Helga start and Arnold is so nice to Helga that is so mean. Though Helga is just putting up a front because she is secretly in love with him. I think we all had that one bully that was like that in school. I know I did. The students find out that there will be a school play, where the students are unimpressed. The kids are going to be in Romeo and Juliet… how original. But also, they are 4th graders. This seems a little young for them.
There are very terrible auditions by Stinky (yes, that is his actual name), Harold, Eugene, and others. They realized they have to kiss a girl, which again is strange for 4th grade. It just makes things weird. The girls are awaiting callbacks and Mr. Simmons is still trying to find a Romeo. That ends up going to Arnold, obviously. Arnold is too friendly to say no.
Rhonda ends up getting to play Juliet. Helga is on a mission to get all the girls out so she can play Juliet and kiss Arnold. Seriously, Helga really needs to get help. She ends up being 4th understudy and in one way or another gets everyone to drop out. Helga gets her kiss, and it is pivotal because that was a turning point for Arnold and Helga. She was still rude to him, but she got what she wanted, and was kinder to him after that.
Overall, I still enjoyed the show. It was fun and there were some pleasant moments.
Does it Hold Up?
The show was really great. It was fun and funny. I would re-watch other episodes.
It brings back so many memories of being a child watching this show. It was such a prominent part of so many people’s lives.
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As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style!