Completing the original lineup of Nicktoons alongside Doug and Rugrats was The Ren & Stimpy Show. While each show certainly had a unique voice, Ren & Stimpy was something completely new, with nothing like it existing before. But being different isn’t necessarily a good thing, as was the case with this show. Centering on toilet humor, the creator battled with Nickelodeon for years, causing numerous problems behind the scenes and varying the quality of the episodes wildly. Even with this, the show garnered fans. Odin only knows why.
Created by John Kricfalusi (how in the hell do you pronounce that?) in 1991, the show centered on titular characters Ren Höek (Kricfalusi ) and Stimpson J. Cat (Billy West) and their misadventures. That’s putting it mildly. While the show had some funny moments, there were plenty that weren’t. Most of the gross-out “humor” featured close-ups of disgusting images like hairballs, a frequent staple of the show. There were plenty of moments and gags that are still prevalent today — Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence, Log and Powdered Toast Man, just to name a few. Of course, there’s the Internet famous “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song.
While there were a few good moments here and there, they were far outweighed by the gross-out ones. This became a problem for Nickelodeon’s standards and practices. Kricfalusi constantly tried to push the boundaries, battling with Nick in the process. Finally, in late 1992, Nickelodeon fired Kricfalusi. Most of the animators and writers left with him. Nick moved production from Kricfalusi’s Spümcø studio to in-house Games Animation. West took over voice duties of Ren for the remainder of the series (another 2 years). The show eventually made its way to sibling network MTV, which had looser guidelines.
Fans noted a drastic change in quality once Kricfalusi left. Honestly, I thought it was mostly all garbage to begin with, so I wasn’t sure how they could tell the difference. I didn’t care for the show, watching it half out of boredom and half out of rebellion, as it was forbidden in my house.
In 2003 Ren & Stimpy was revived for the short-lived adult-centered animation block on Spike. The show was subtitled “Adult Party Cartoon.” Kricfalusi was brought back, given full creative control. He produced six new episodes, with “Man’s Best Friend,” a holdover from the original series, included as well. After six weeks, the animation block was put on hold, then ultimately cancelled — along with the show.
The Ren & Stimpy Show was odd to say the least. Amidst the gross-out gags and disgusting imagery, there was a bit of fun to be had. I’m all for the freedom of speech and expression, but I’m also a firm believer in discipline. Just because you could, that doesn’t mean you should. Sure it paved the way for other nonsense like Ed, Edd n Eddy or Beavis and Butt-head, but we didn’t really need those shows either.
What did you think? Funny or gross? Think this show was important, or should it be forgotten? Comment below!