Words by Kleo Cruse Art by Rachael Park
A Stoner’s Guide to Nostalgic YouTube Kid’s Show Benders: When you’re high and your attention span is low…
If you’re a person who smokes, and you’re a person who smokes in company, there’s probably been at least two or three times in your life where you and your friends have been staring dumbly at a computer screen while one person steers you through a mindscape of nostalgic delights. Not dissimilar to the “okay, remember this R&B track from 2001” YouTube tangents, the let’s-YouYube-whack-kids-TV-shows-from-the-nineties is subtler and more sophisticated than its musical cousin.
The following list will help you guide you through, so that your choices receive the biggest “wooo I forgot about this show, this show was so weird!” out of your group.
Serving suggestion: no more than two friends so you don’t get really competitive over who goes next. Garnish with one fairly green three-paper joint that you can pass around while this happens.
Johnson & Friends
My first and favourite wig-out to Johnson and Friends was when I realised that the characters are humans dressed in costumes, filmed in a gigantic bedroom film set. I became, and still am, overwhelmed with a desire to visit this set with its towering bed that, proportionately, I assume is about three metres high. If you don’t remember it, because you’re an actual first year uni student who went straight from high school to Monash, then basically it’s a show where toys become sentient when their owner isn’t around. The main cast are a pink elephant with an insipid personality, a concertina with a creepy face, a toy truck, and a clinically depressed hot water bottle that sleeps all day under the bed with a baked bean toast for a blanket (yep).
Wig out levels: 7/10
Bananas and Pyjamas
Don’t discredit it because of its commonality. This one always gets a rousing response from the squad. It seemed innocuous as a child, but watch it again as an adult and understand the nuance. I won’t delve too deeply into the two adult male bananas that share a bedroom; frankly, I would be stoked for them as long as they were happy. What’s actually confusing is trying to comprehend what kind of alternate Rick-and-Morty-style universe two bananas wearing nightclothes, three animate teddy bears of differing ethnic backgrounds, and a rat who owns a convenience store can all become really close mates.
Wig out levels: 6.5/10
Play School was actually super chill, and won’t make you paz out. It’s a good show to watch if you’re in a ripped mood where you wanna learn cool facts, and you want those facts delivered to you surrounded by pastel colours, in the form of catchy songs, by two really benevolent, smiling sub-par Australian celebrities.
Wig out levels: 2/10
Fasten your seatbelts. As far as I’m concerned this is the show to end them all, as far as disturbing kids shows from the ‘90s are concerned. So resonant was this show, I still have the occasional nightmare about it now. Why? The most notorious feature of this “kids” show, was a disembodied face – eyes, eyebrows, mouth and nostrils – on a blue backdrop. Talking. Just talking about inane stuff. With a manipulated voice made about ten times higher than the average adult pitch. I don’t remember any other part of the show, but I think that’s well and truly enough.
Wig out levels: 10/10
In and of itself, Rugrats is a pretty standard narrative about some baby friends who get into baby-sized conundrums. However, for the ultimate reaction, I recommend whipping out the Rugrats conspiracy theory that became internet famous a few years ago. Etched with such sadness is this theory, it brings the wig out score from 1/10 to a strong 8/10.
If you’re not familiar with the theory, I won’t ruin the whole thing for you. Basically it involves you having to humanise Rugrats’ villain Angelica, and will have you viewing this entire show through a completely new prism.
Wig out levels: 1/10. When accompanied with conspiracy theory: 8/10
Mr Squiggle has been around for so many generations that my mother and I have bonded over its strangeness together before. For many a year, an extraterrestrial being who lived on the moon would come down to visit his human lady friend. He had a pencil for a proboscis and would use it to join seemingly random dots and lines on a page (provided by his lady friend c/o viewers of the show from around Australia). The real catch was that Mr Squiggle could only visualise things when they were upside down. Every time his lady friend would be like “I don’t get it Mr Squiggle, what is it?” and every frickin’ time Mr Squiggle would be like “IT’S UPSIDE DOWN!”
Wig out levels: 7/10
Content warning – This article contains references to drug use, please exercise caution in your recreational activities.