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A look into the TV shows and movies we didn’t truly understand as kids

By Anamaria Popovska

I don't know about you, but I grew up watching Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and many other childhood classics Gen Z’ers would recognize. But, as kids, a lot of things fly over our heads, and we don’t understand what the shows and movies we watch really mean. Not only that, but many of these shows portray unrealistic images of life, leading to children watching these shows, thinking they are realistic depictions. After watching some of these shows again10 years later, I realized they were actually peppered with dark humor, wit, and more. So, let’s re-examine!

“The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” was my favorite Disney Channel show growing up, but watching it back then, I didn’t really understand the story. Growing up, I never comprehended some of the show's references and characters. First of all, London was a spin-off of Paris Hilton. Disney based the London character on her, just look at their names: London and Paris. Also, both of their last names are the names of their fathers’ hotels— The Tipton and The Hilton. Second, the show was not very realistic; We were never told the ages of Maddie and London, or whether all the damage Zack and Cody caused was paid for, and how life in a hotel definitely isn't that entertaining. In the show, two boys run around the hotel, participating in activities and causing trouble, which realistically would get them kicked out. When I was younger and watching TV, I thought that life in a hotel was just exactly like that, and that you could run around and cause trouble anytime you wanted. Obviously that isn’t true, as no hotel would allow for two young boys to break everything, ride bikes and skateboards in the lobby, and throw parties on the roof. But, obviously, all those things weren't questioned by the 8-year-old me.

“SpongeBob SquarePants” is another classic that has many references not understood by kids. There are many adult jokes (which we don't have to discuss in this article)—some that I honestly didn't even catch until writing this. The Krusty Krab is shaped like a lobster trap, and Krabby Patties are apparently made out of crab, yet, Mr. Krabs eats them all the time. Plus, Patrick lives under a rock… because he’s dumb.

Additionally, how is it that in almost all these shows, we never see the kids actually doing school work? Take, “Victorious,” as an example. Yes, the students go to a performing arts school, but they still have to take calculus and English, right? To add to the unrealism, the students never took exams, and all their classes consisted of them acting in Sikowitz’s class, pear phones were meant to imitate Apple phones, and… how come these teenagers never have their parents around?!

Children's shows and movies are littered with Easter eggs kids tend not to catch, other than the subtle adult jokes and unrealistic plotlines. Especially in Disney movies, Easter eggs are scattered throughout, possibly connecting the different storylines. A Dumbo stuffed animal can be seen at the back in the “Lilo & Stitch'' movie, Rapunzel from “Tangled” made a cameo in “Frozen”, Aladdin's magic carpet was featured in “The Princess and the Frog,” and Sebastian from “The Little Mermaid'' pinched Genie in a scene from “Aladdin.” These little Easter eggs are easily missed by adults, but much less children.

Rewatching the shows and movies that I grew up on was honestly so much fun. To hear the different adult jokes, and to realize how unrealistic these shows were was entertaining. However, it also sort of ruined things for me, in a way. As a kid, I loved these shows and really believed in those little things I missed, so now looking back, it makes me realize the truth of how some of those things are never going to actually happen. I won’t ever be able to sneak in the vents of hotels, and I am constantly taking exams in school. But, I still definitely recommend going back and watching your favorite childhood TV shows and movies, and seeing the little things you missed all those years ago.


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