“Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling” is a brilliant work of art aimed at both young audiences, with it’s sometimes childish humor and wacky visuals, and adults, by tackling hot topic issues and a frenzy of subtle adult humor, much like the original show. This show takes notice that it has been off the air for nearly 20 years and that the entertainment medium has changed, as well as the people around it. Full of witty humor, if you enjoyed the original show, you are sure to love every minute of this new reboot special.
Static cling is a special that not only tosses jokes out as a satirical take on the world, but also manages to tackle a topic that not many people can handle… the inevitability of change. After 20 years in space, Rocko (Carlos Alazraqui) and friends return to Earth in the 21st century and nothing seems familiar. Rocko is taken back by how the world has changed since the 90’s while his friends, Heffer (Tom Kenney) and Filburt (Doug Lawrence), adapt pretty easily to the “new” technology and world views of the modern day.
The show tackles this topic perfectly, showing that change although not always a good thing needs to be accepted rather than fought. The biggest case of change in this Netflix special was Ralph Bighead (Joe Murray), who fans might remember as Mr. and Mrs. Bighead’s son, comes out as transgender and is now Rachel Bighead. They tackle this topic perfectly by stating that Rachel is now comfortable with her life, after so many years of her not being happy with who she was. There is even a scene in the special where Rachel is rejected by her father with him stating “I have no daughter” (in reference to the old episode “I have no son”) showing his distaste of the person he sees in front of him. Mr. Bighead later comes to his senses and realizes that it is his child no matter what and that he will always love her even if that means accepting the change in his life.
The show handles the idea of change in a very tasteful way, also showing that nostalgia may not be the best thing and could potentially ruin something new and great because of a clouded opinion based on the past (we actually have an article tackling this very same idea, link down below). It is fascinating to me that this 45 minute show could handle a heavy topic such as accepting change and letting go of the past in such a way that it puts $300 million dollar movies to shame (looking at you “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”).
As a side note, one of the best parts of the show is when they take a satirical shot at the cartoon industry. Talking about how everything is cheaper now and lacks ambition and soul, it was just a funny moment in the special and it had such a large impact. Because if you look at channels such as Cartoon Network and all the new shows they are putting out, alot of them can’t be distinguished from one another, it’s sad that great original cartoons are a dying breed and we are now stuck with shows that resemble other shows because “it’s a working formula”. Where’s the passion? Where’s the ambition? I hope that this special is noticed by a larger crowd because it really does leave a lasting message.
Overall, this special was fantastic even if it was only 45 minutes. In that small time frame it managed to get so much done and executed so many jokes on time. I applaud the “Rocko’s Modern Life” team for what they have accomplished here today. It is a new form of progressive cartoons that managed to handle the concept of change and nostalgia, as well as the concept of transgender identity, perfectly. Good job Nickelodeon, keep it up.
And if you want to hear more about the concept of nostalgia and how it could potentially be bad, take a look here: