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'80s Cartoons (Girls)

I think there are three things we can all safely agree on: grape popsicles are clearly the best, when a woman wants to be mad at you there’s nothing stopping her; no matter how crazy or tenuous her logic is, and the ‘80s were the definitive decade for cartoons.

I know some people will claim that title should go to the ‘70s; and I like to call these people “habitual drug users.” The ‘70s were simply too cheesy and self-referential, cartoon-wise, to be great. The defining cartoon of the entire decade was SCOOBY DOO, a parody of old detective shows, and filled with more illicit sex and drug references than an SNL skit. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for post-modern self-aware cartoons, but when you break down the fourth wall, all you’re serving to remind people is how real the story isn’t.

And the ‘90s…don’t get me started. Morning and afternoon cartoons have completely been co-opted by large corporations. The majority of cartoons seemed to serve basically one function: push whatever toy was soon to come out. Grrr.

No; the ‘80s were it for Cartoons. First of all you had the holiness of Kids’ Sabbath: Saturday mornings. After a hard week at school, there was no day a kid looked forward to more than Saturday morning, when getting up was actually fun, and cartoons ruled until 11:00 (when ABC would run that Children’s Story Hour, which was sometimes good, but most often not). A few years into the decade the afternoons became Cartoon Destinations, and yes, many of the cartoons had product tie-ins, but the cartoons existed independently too: it wasn’t so crass and commercial. (Or at least: I didn’t notice it.)

The only problem was the the ‘80s were mighty segregated when it came to cartoons. There were three types: those solely for girls, those solely for boys, and those that everyone could watch without feeling queeny. In tribute to this Animation Triad, I have the top Girls’, Boys’, and Mixed Cartoons of that glorious decade: the ‘80s.


Worst: MY LITTLE PONY and MUPPET BABIES. MLP was an abomination, clearly written by actual ponies. The stories insulted girls’ intelligence. Seriously, if I had been a girl, this would have caused a major revolt. Obviously I didn’t collect MLP, but quite a few girls did, and they deserved better. As for MUPPET BABIES, I only have one thing to say: when they decided not to have Baby Stadler and Baby Waldorf, they made a life-long enemy in Hyperion. .Loathsome show.

#3 SHE-RA - Obviously a knock off of HE-MAN, but they did a pretty decent job of it. Remember; this was all pre-Buffy and Girl Power, so She-Ra was a good thing for girls.

#2 JEM – Barbie meets Pat Benetar. By day she was a business woman (or something), but by night she was the lead singer in the Jem and the Holograms! Several readers have pointed out that sometimes-contributed Jerrica is the same name Jem took when in her “normal” character, and asked if it’s the same girl. Yes, yes it is.

And the #1 Girls’ Cartoon of the ‘80s…..

#1 Rainbow Brite – I used to make fun of my brother Achmed for watching this, but the truth was, Rainbow Brite was a pretty good show. If it hadn’t been about…you know…dolls, I think I’d have been a regular too. The animation was decent for the time, and most importantly, some major talent was writing the stories. As I recall, Rainbow Brite’s job was to protect color. How cool is that? With the possible exception of protecting the Childlike Empress, can there be a better gig? I thought not.

Next up: Boys’ cartoons