This week, after discussing Dogma 95, I decided to watch Melancholia, a movie I’ve been meaning to view for quite a while now. Unfortunately, I found that I had nothing to say about it that hasn’t already been said. So, continuing with the theme of cartoons I like, here are some reasons that I like Clarence.
Clarence is a show about a kid in the suburbs named Clarence. With his best friends Sumo and Jeff, he goes on a number of adventures. That’s it. It’s not a complex set-up, but it’s well-executed.
As I said, there’s a number of reasons I like this show, and it really starts with the main character.
Clarence is a really imaginative, friendly, and all-around happy kid. His defining trait as a character is his unflagging optimism and joy. He loves everything because “everything is amazing.” He’s nice to everyone, even people like Belson, who’s honestly nothing but a bully. However, Clarence always prevails and is just happy in the end. That’s really the main reason I like the show. It’s presents the viewer with a joyful worldview that’s typically vindicated by the end of the episode.
Although Clarence is absolutely a children’s show, it doesn’t treat its audience like idiots. The writers have a LOT of fun with the stories they present, which results in the show occasionally delving into concepts that you wouldn’t expect to see on a kid’s show. For example, one episode, “Clarence’s Millions,” deals with the very real, basic economic principles of supply and demand, and then culminates with the gang crashing the “marketplace” of the school. Another episode, “Average Jeff,” deals with education reform and critiques the use of standardized tests as the primary tool of evaluating students.
Even the smaller moments and details of many episodes are wonderful. Clarence and Jeff may come from a middle class background, but Sumo does not. The show doesn’t do anything to disguise or otherwise hide this, and Sumo isn’t any better or worse for this. In fact, it makes episodes like “Dream Boat” even more resonant and emotional. In other episodes, it’s revealed that Jeff has two moms who clearly care for him deeply. It’s also directly stated in an episode that Clarence comes from a family of divorce. In fact, when another character briefly mentions that her parents are splitting up, Clarence reassures her, saying, “There was a little bit when I didn’t have a dad, but now I have a Chad; he’s pretty awesome.” These may be smaller details and moments in the show, but they’re important, because it shows kids that there’s no one way for a family to be.
These are the main reasons I like Clarence. It makes me smile and laugh, no matter how upset I may be. It’s really another show that’s emblematic of this era of cartoons: Sweet, imaginative, weird, and just nice.