On this episode of The Game of Nerds Podcast, we sit down with Let’s Talk Fandoms Podcast host Tezeta Gant for the second time. This episode was slated for last year, but her episode was part of the infamous microphone fiasco of 2021. It was only fitting that we sat down for “take two” and got an even better conversation than the first. We start the podcast chatting about our love of Netflix’s documentaries and how Nick Miller is our soul animal. But this episode is all about animation, so let’s jump in!

Tezeta and I are of similar ages and grew up during the 90s when animation reigned king. So it’s no secret that animation holds a special place in our hearts. It’s been amazing to see animation projects thrive during the pandemic since creators can do these series at home much more effortlessly than on-set filming. Just look at the latest Disney+ day and how they announced many animated series for the coming year. Animation is one of those creative processes that I’m in awe of and aware of how many TALENTED people it takes to create some of these series/movies that we’ve loved. We talk about this extensively in the Anime episode and the Voice Acting episode of this podcast. But first, the age-old question, Disney or Nickelodeon? Which did you watch more?

It was safe to say that Disney was more for their movies, and Nickelodeon was more known for their animated cartoons. We talk extensively about the early start to watch parties with cousins and neighbors to watch the newest animated movie. I reminisce about Saturday morning cartoons with my dad and brother, which is a tradition I still hold with my daughter to this day. It brings up the point that these animation series tie into our nostalgia factor and critical moments in our lives. The best example I had was watching Toy Story when it first came out on VHS with my little brother on my lap and how much he loved it. Marvel came home the day Toy Story 4 came out, and we watched it, and I bawled. It was the whole circle of nostalgia hitting me like a ton of bricks.

Animation has also been known to push the boundaries. Tezeta and I had similar childhoods where certain animated shows were off-limits. Ren and Stimpy were one of those series. In retrospect, in comparison to South Park, it’s nothing, but at the time, we have to remember it was the “South Park” of the time. There was nothing ruder or cruder on tv other than Bevis and Butthead. Cartoon Network was also a network that was a hit or miss with most families. Tezeta wasn’t allowed to watch Courage the Cowardly Dog. Why we might never know?!? But this diverted our conversation into a meaningful discussion about how animation is viewed currently. A lot of people see animated movies or television as “childish.” Tezeta brings up a great point about how animation really has gotten away with many things that would be impossible to explain or talk about. (We are looking at you, Big Mouth!) Most people are introduced to animation as children, so when they recall animation is usually from a frame of mind or a time/place in that person’s life.

We agree that animation has pushed the boundaries for good. It goes back to the original awe factor. It takes talented voice actors to make these characters come to life, plus the insane creativity of illustrators and creators on top of the fact of someone coming up with this entire universe for these characters to live in. If you think about it, animation has nothing on live-action films. The possibilities are frankly endless.

Not only is animation pushing the boundaries, but it also gives us tools to explain things that may be hard to do otherwise. Movies like Inside Out and Lion King give children ways to explain their feelings or complex topics like death. Big Mouth is one of the most recent animation hits that has pushed boundaries on South Park and Rick and Morty levels. If you haven’t heard about the series, it’s about a group of middle schoolers going through puberty. Frankly, I wish it had been around when I was a kid. I know my mother wouldn’t have let us watch it as its South Park level crude, but it would have made life make a smidge more sense during those confusing years.

The reality is that each animation show has pushed the boundaries due to the show before it. Cartoons originated in the 40s with Popeye and then moved into the Hanna Barbera age of cartoons. It wasn’t until we reached the late 80s and early 90’s that we started to see animation rise again. Saturday morning cartoons were a staple, and Nickelodeon housed mostly animation series and Disney. Cartoon Network was starting to push the boundaries with their Adult swim programming. Nickelodeon brought on Ren and Stimpy, and MTV found Beevis and Butthead along with Daria. The Simpsons is one of the longest-running animation series of all time and continues to push boundaries today. It’s also spawned other unique animated series like Family Guy, American Dad, Futurama, and South Park. Just when we thought no one could top South Park, we were graced with Rick and Morty and Big Mouth.

Parents have always been wary of animation series and their content. Especially now when you have an animation that can go from cute to crude in a matter of thirty seconds. While we may have been the generation that sat in front of the tv all day, the reality was our parents knew what we were watching (for the most part). There were only so many channels, and the tv ratings were easy to see. It’s harder for parents with the number of choices and lack of easy-to-view parental ratings. We even chatted for a bit about triggers and warnings on some of these series. In some cases, parents are googling shows or watching the shows before the kids because there are too many options and choices for kids. At the end of the day, tv should be used the same way it always has as an escape. Whether it’s school, work, or life, everyone deserves to get lost in a show that makes them happy, even if it’s animated. But it’s ultimately up to the parent to engage and know what your child is watching.

We wrap up the podcast talking about some of our favorite animated series and how we want Disney to stop rebooting everything to live-action films. Disney has always been known for its incredible animated movies, so why doesn’t it continue to stick to that? We’ve yet to see a live-action reboot that we’ve liked, and we know more are slated for the future. Frankly, their recent animated releases like Luca and Encanto should be enough to show them that the money is where the animation is at. It’s the same theory with these long-running animation shows like South Park and Simpsons, who are in their 20+ seasons. They are still on the air because they are loved and make the company money. While not every episode will be a gem like the early season, there should be a gem or two in there. But we do have quite a few animated series that you must check out if you haven’t already:

Learn More About Our Guest:

Tezeta Gant
Host of Let’s Talk Fandoms Podcast
Co-Host of Eat Watch Review
Co-Host of Into the Tavern Podcast
Instagram: @Gantgram
Facebook & Twitter: @LetsTalkFandom