I believe that The Adventures of Pete and Pete deserves greater respect as an influential piece of media. If you are not familiar with the show, I’m sorry for you. However, I suppose I owe some explanation as to why some slightly obscure television show deserves an essay about it.
The Adventures of Pete and Pete aired on Nickelodeon from 1993 to 1996. The basis of the show was two brothers, both named Pete, who lived in Wellsville, USA- along with an assortment of odd yet endearing characters and daily absurdities. The show is incredibly surreal; absurd for the sake of absurdity. There are children with mermaid tattoos(with proper permits, of course), a superhero who is the self declared “Strongest Man in the World”, and a 1978 Cutlass Supreme found buried in the sand using a metal detector to name a few. All these are admittedly completely illogical by themselves, but the surrealistic nature of the show puts everything into context.
Even still, the situations and the characters are real. A little exaggerated, yes, but real. The humor isn’t the usual slapstick or putrid sitcom dialogue. The humor is subtle, but that makes the impact all the greater. The show also had it share of poignant and even miserable moments, but it was never disheartening and the show always grows from it.
Every episode was based on simple premises that everyone could relate to: working a dreadful job, having to cram for a test, or competing for a parent’s affections. However, the show was woven with peculiarities of suburbia living along with clever and surreal qualities. The narration and dialogue is sheer genius, with a more than a touch of poetry.
Those who would dismiss this show just because it is on Nickelodeon are missing out. The Adventures of Pete and Pete is very much as show for all ages-assuming that you have a taste for the hilarious. There were many prominent guest stars, mostly from the music industry, who knew a gem of a show when they saw it: people like Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., and Iggy Pop. Exposing some of my generation to such great artists is just another reason why The Adventures of Pete and Pete warrants greater praise.
I had watched it during the original run and in repeats of the late 1990s and enjoyed it immensely. However, watching it recently I have gained an all new appreciation for the show. The Adventures of Pete and Pete was perfectly understandable to me at the tender age of five. And even now that I’m 17, I can still watch the show with an ever deepening appreciation for clever and innovative thought.
This show tries to inspire a generation to act by its own terms: finding amazing things within the seemingly mundane. The show had a flair for bringing out the absurd and wonder in every day suburban life unmatched in history. The Adventures of Pete and Pete had an immense impact on my humor and the way I look at the mundane. I believe that The Adventures of Pete and Pete deserves greater respect as an influential piece of media.
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