Opinion – Cartoon Network: No Variety Allowed

Let me take you back to August 2002. 15 years ago, when a young 11 year-old me would watch Cartoon Network like it was a religious experience. Yes, we had Toonami back on during the weekday, and we still remember the Toonami days fondly. But you know what Cartoon Network also had? A bunch of cartoons. New cartoons for you. Old cartoons your parents/grandparents grew up on that you can enjoy. Action cartoons. Cartoons filled with comedy. Anime hits. Cartoons that anyone of a certain age could enjoy. It was fun. Here, look at this old schedule from back then on August 2nd. Yes, this one went 24 hours compared to the new 14-hour format, but look at what was on there, just to name a few.

  • Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy
  • Dexter’s Laboratory
  • The Powerpuff Girls
  • Johnny Bravo
  • Dragon Ball and DBZ
  • Scooby Doo, Where are You?
  • Courage, The Cowardly Dog
  • Justice League
  • The Flintstones
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Samurai Jack

Hell, even mostly forgotten shows like ZOIDSSheep in the Big City, Time Squad, and Max Steel were on this schedule. As you can see, it was a fun mix of old and new, and filled with a bunch of variety in this mix. Now, fast forward to 2017, and what do you have? This

As much as I joke about it, there is no lying that Cartoon Network of 2017 has basically become the Teen Titans Go! channel. This show is not only on everyday, but it airs constantly. It gets the most advertisement time of all their shows. It gets all the love from the TV executives. It gets most of the marathons that can be seen  on Cartoon Network, as seen this week as of this writing, when Cartoon Network is showing a Easter Weekend that is nothing but Teen Titans Go! I wish this was a joke. But it’s not.

Look at all that horrible yellow! But hey, why limit it to 2017, when they been doing this for awhile now?

Look at the date: November 8, TWENTY FOURTEEN! Cartoon Network has been bad with their schedule of endlessly showing Teen Titans Go! for who knows what reasons. But what’s worse is how it affects the other shows. As I showed you, there was a ton of variety on here 15 years ago. In fact, on the linked 2002 schedule above, there were 25 different shows of variety, with a movie thrown in for good measure on that day. 3 weeks ago, in 2017, there were only 4 shows shown on Cartoon Network. Not 12, not 8. Not even 5. Just FOUR! The combo of Teen Titans Go! and The Amazing World of Gumball, and the show based on an average animated movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. The fourth was a new rebooted Powerpuff Girls episode thrown on the last 15 minutes of the Friday block for good measure. That is just sad. With We Bare Bears back for the time being, and the new rebooted Ben 10 series on, that is now only 5 shows shown on a Cartoon Network on the whole block.

We used to the give hell to Nick all the time with SpongeBob. Okay, we still do. But even so, they still show a variety of shows to go with the little yellow dude. Hell, even the bad times of “CN Real” wasn’t as this bad as it is now. At this point, I think I rather take the live-action shows of those days than another damn ad telling me “Teen Titans Go! IS YOUR FAVORITE SHOW!” (Except for that Ghost Adventurers-kids show. That show was god awful.)

What complicates matters is how they treat their other shows. While Gumball does get a fair amount of ad space on here, the other shows are given little lead-way at all. Remember, the way they promoted the Regular Show finale for 1 1/2 months? Before that, there was barely any ads for Regular Show at all. You didn’t know when a new episode was going to happen out of the blue. Sometimes, the social media account of the show’s creator would tell you. Remember when Adventure Time was the biggest hit on Cartoon Network? They barely even recognize it anymore. They will advertise it on Twitter, telling you to watch it on their app. But their channel? AHAHA! Why bother with that! Other than that Island mini-series, and a couple of other new episodes, Adventure Time has seen barely any time at all on the channel it dominated earlier this decade in the past year.

Then there’s Steven Universe. You could show it daily like others, since it has a huge fan-base, gets big ratings, and is overall a great story that keeps evolving. Or, you could just bomb it out with new episodes for a month, then not show it again for another six months. Which is what Cartoon Network has not only done with it, but other shows, too. It’s doing it now with the new Ben 10 series, and with We Bare Bears. Which, by the way, was supposed to have new episodes this March. Instead, it got re-schedule by….repeated episodes of Teen Titans Go!

Why is it that Cartoon Network insists that this is good? Why shove Teen Titans Go! down everyone’s throats, a show that came from the great and original Teen Titans show, only to see it not ruin the once proud superheroes, into a bunch of damn scumbags who screw around, trash the original show, and have the writers throw a tantrum whenever people criticize their show? Why show a cartoon from an animated movie that was barely above-average to begin with? Why milk the teats of the franchises in Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10 with reboots that just look like Microsoft Paint disasters? Why show Gumball constantly and not give Steven Universe or Regular Show some more time? And it pains me to say that, because I love Gumball. I think Gumball has become one of the funnier cartoons I have seen on Cartoon Network. But still, when you have 14-hours to only show what you have, you shouldn’t give 12 30-minute timeslots to Gumball (and TTGo) alone. That’s just idiotic.

The point of this all is that there is no variety on Cartoon Network anymore. Their hit originals are either done (Regular Show, which we will finally own the final season. In 2022. On an already dead DVD) or they don’t give a crap about them to air them enough (Adventure Time, Steven Universe). The shows that aren’t as popular but are still favorites (Uncle Grandpa, We Bare Bears, Clarence) are the same as the latter response above. Their reboots (Ben 10, PPG) get played too much, or in the case of PPG, used to. And the other three get played too much to the point of insanity (Gumball, Meatballs, and TTGo). Even Mighty Magiswords couldn’t survive one season without getting shoved away for good. And I haven’t even gotten to Justice League Action and Sonic Boom, two shows put on a “death slot” at 6 or 7 AM in the morning, on a Saturday, with no advertisement time for them at all. (Coming soon to it, OK K.O. For real, I hope it doesn’t.) In the case of Sonic Boom, it has gone to its classic cartoon channel, Boomerang, for new episodes. Speaking of, Boomerang is a totally safe spot where we won’t see the crappiness of CN affect it, right? WRONG! They’re just as bad with their schedule, as rebooted PPG and TTGo are on it, too. Not to mention that they’re now shelving out an app for $5 to watch all the classic cartoons like Scooby Doo and Tom & Jerry on their website.  Because they just can’t show it on their own channel, can they?

“But Kadeem. You’re a 26-year old complaining about shows for kids. Doesn’t it seem stupid to complain?”

And that’s my point.  Cartoon Network was every kids’ choice to go to back in the day. You had a variety of shows you could choose from that would be awesome. From Toonami, to their originals, to the classics. Now, we just don’t see it anymore, and it’s disappointing. Let’s go back to my 11-year old self. Would I want to see 4-5 straight hours everyday, back-to-back of Teen Titans Go! or would I want to see other stuff like Ed, Edd, n’ Eddy, Looney Tunes, Kids Next Door, and Naruto, etc. all played out as it a variety schedule? Because I’m pretty sure I’d choose option 2. You can’t show the same thing to every kid, and expect all of them to love it. Every kid has a different taste. Some who like TTGo, another may like My Little Pony. Those who like Steven Universe, others may like Phineas and Ferb. Most kids may like all those shows because they get to see the variety. And while those are on different networks, the point stands that kids will probably want to watch more than three shows on one network.

Look at Nickelodeon. As much as we downplay their stuff, they show stuff other than SpongeBob. They have The Loud House, their pre-school shows they still show, the live-action shows, and other stuff. Disney XD has Star Vs., Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels, Marvel Superhero cartoons, and even an anime block now. Which, I’m so glad for one of the shows on there in Pokémon. Being a lifelong fan, just seeing the anime get kicked in the dirt for the last few years on Cartoon Network in that “death slot” I mentioned, I was so happy Disney picked it up. They advertise it constantly, show replays of it, and just had a 24-hr marathon of Pokémon XY on Friday. Cartoon Network would only advertise it if it had a movie marathon, and it barely did that. I say Pikachu and co. are much happier now.

Cartoon Network needs a change soon. They need to get back to what they did before, or at least stop showing the same thing over and over again. Other people looking to air their stuff on TV could go to another competitor, or even just send it to something like Netflix to air. Even better, in the case of Samurai Jack, just have it air on Adult Swim instead. (Samurai Jack is also a case where not everything needs to be rebooted. Just continue it with the same people, and you can still make it look great.) I hope Cartoon Network can get out of this TTGo funk soon. The ratings for it have reflected that people know  it’s a bad show, and have had enough of it. The only people who haven’t are the executives at the top. Because they are trying to drive on their “favorite show” to us and the kids. We just ain’t having it.

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