I’m supposed to be looking for a job right now. Of course, thinking about employment, you go back over your history. And going back over your work history usually sends you on a stroll down memory lane. Some think of their first car, while others reflect on fashions of yesteryear.
Me? I look back to the shows I watched on Nickelodeon as a child. Maybe it’s that it seems like it was a simpler time when I’d watch that channel, though in reality it’s obviously cognitive dissonance, as I had no money and was literally afraid of everything.
For some reason, I got stuck on that show Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Perhaps it’s because the country is so insane right now and that show seemed like a similarly crazy fever dream. The spelling of the title alone: Three “A’s,” two “H’s” and literally three goddamn exclamation points. And in so thinking, I find myself wondering “was Tim Curry a voice on that show?”And yes, he was (thanks, Google). I have memories of a team of monsters who went to monster school to learn how to scare children. Not unprecedented: you had that movie with Howie Mandel, Little Monsters, with the kid from The Wonder Years. But the point of this article isn’t just to talk about the show, as there are no doubt much better sources for that. The point of this piece is to reflect on the show, now that I’m in my 30s, and no longer a child.
So, I’m going to go watch a few episodes from the first season, and get back to you. You can too, if you’d like.
(A few hours later.)
The intro to this show is as weird as you’d expect for a kids show about monsters that go to monster school to scare humans. Catchy theme song–though I sometimes forget my bank PIN number, I still remembered this somehow.
The show was developed by the same studio that did Rugrats, which makes a lot of sense upon watching this first season again. Same animation style, for one, and I’m struck by how odd everything is on this show that isn’t a monster. The trees look like fungus with human hair, the people have really bizarre hair…I guess there’s just a lot of weird hair going on, and that’s excluding the monsters.
Getting to our main monsters, we have Ickis, Krumm and Oblina. Basically, the fat smelly one with his eyes in his hands, the skinny one that’s the girl who looks like a barber pole, and the red one with bunny ears who is super neurotic with self-esteem issues, respectively.
Their teacher is The Gromble, who basically dresses like a dominatrix and acts like a drill sergeant … who is also a dominatrix.Watching this show reminds me how much I like rooting for monsters. It’s very much a Clive Barker’s Nightbreed kind of a thing. They live at the dump, though, for some reason are taking monster classes, despite being well into their 60’s.Most of their adventures seem to consist of trying to scare children, and failing in some way. The universe is positively out of a Thomas Ligotti story: full of decrepit tenements and crooked alleyways. Not to mention basically everyone is terrible. The humans are at times worse than the monsters, who do nothing but eat trash, so that speaks volumes.
I guess what’s fun about the show is there isn’t really an attempt to explain too much away. They just live under the dump, so that’s that. Their only job is to scare children, that’s that. As a kid, I obviously didn’t think too much about the logistics of the universe. Now that I’m an adult, it’s nice to know, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Reality sucks anyway.
It’s a weird show, and that’s coming from a guy who likes to go back and watch old Nickelodeon shows in his time off to write highly analytical reflections about them. Still, it reminds me why shows like this lodged their way into my memories. The message of the show is essentially to embrace diversity and help your friends. And it’s a whole lot of fun. When nothing is realistic, it’s kind of relaxing. Nowadays everyone is so obsessed with making things real, it’s ironic it takes a show called Aaahh!!! Real Monsters to help me relax in unreality for a little while. Also, it’s literally one of the only good things Jim Belushi has ever done. For fans of cutesy monsters, Tim Curry and classic Nicktoons, go back and give this one a watch.
Do any of you remember this show? I know I’m basically ancient, but I’d love to hear from those who remember this show or recently revisited it.