Staff writer Omar Holmon has been provoking me with claims that the television show Doug was superior to Hey Arnold, and was the Nickelodeon MVP. Claims that are outrageous given the fact that Douglas Yancy Funnie was swagless human being which was probably the cause of Nickelodeon letting you down when they proved that they’ll air anything. Now I maybe nitpicking, but you can’t be the Nickelodeon MVP when you were dropped from the team.
So allow me to disregard Omar’s claims that Disney’s Doug was the Nicktoons MVP, and break down exactly why Hey Arnold was the better show in general. Here are the top 5 reasons Hey Arnold is better than Doug.
Arnold was fortunate enough not to carry the entire show by himself. Whether Arnold’s fun-loving and eccentric grandparents Phillip & Gertie, his best friend and resident token (this I will admit) Gerald, part-time aspiring writer and full-time torturer and crush Helga G. Pataki (the “G” stands for Gawdess), or many more including Harold, Stinky, Eugene, Mr. Potts, the Kokoshkas, Mr. Hyunh, Mr. Smith, Rhonda, Phoebe, Big Bob Pataki, Lila, Syd, Olga, Torvald, Chocolate Boy, Stoop Kid, and Pigeon Man — all who all had their own distinct personalities that separated themselves from everyone else — no character felt unimportant. Unlike Doug, Arnold didn’t always need to be the star in order to make the show interesting, as many characters were held their own with spotlight episodes over the course of the series.
While Doug was outchea rockin belts on his head with his underwear on the outside, or rockin a sweater vest and t-shirt combo with shorts (are you hot or are you cold?), Arnold was out here setting trends, fam. Arnold was rockin’ kilts long before Kanye West made it poppington during the Watch The Throne era… when even in reality it was just an undershirt. And what about Arnold’s room? Look at my man’s fashion!
Now Doug was a pretty dense show about an average boy who dreamed big yet lived little, while Hey Arnold was a show that successfully weaved Arnold’s adolescence with the city’s own growth process, which led to some of the show’s more satisfying episodes.
For example, “Pigeon Man” was an episode where Arnold’s pigeon gets sick, and after hearing about a strange man living amongst birds seeks him out in search for help. Meeting the Pigeon Man, Arnold learns that he’s a nice man who loves pigeons and is not around people because they’re not to be trusted. In the end when Harold and his friends destroy his home, Pigeon Man leaves with a positive message to “wash his berries before eating them” and “fly towards the sun.”
Ther was also “Stoop Kid” — an ornery kid whose fears of living life keep him confined to a stoop until Arnold steps in to assist him, and episodes like “Veteran’s Day.” On “Veteran’s Day,” Arnold and Gerald plan on something special to do for the holiday, whether it’s the movie theater, golfing, or the aquarium. Grandpa Phil and Martin Johanssen, Gerald’s father, had both fought in wars in their youth and decide to do something special to help remind Arnold and Gerald that Veteran’s Day is not an extended weekend. They drive to the Washington Memorial and tell their stories about their time in the war. For Arnold, he doesn’t believe his grandfather’s story. For Gerald, he was disappointed that his father didn’t fight in the war at all. He was just a file clerk. But they soon learn the real meaning of Veteran’s Day as a day to celebrate the men and women who risked their lives for this country.
2. Helga G. Pataki
The yang to Arnold’s yin, Helga spends half her time during the course of the series creating chaos and terrorizing her classmates, while the other time she spends huddled in front of an Arnold shrine made out of junk in her closet, reciting surprisingly eloquent confessions of love and devotion towards a certain football headed 9-year old. During the course of the series the show fleshes her out and we learn that Helga’s bullying is a defense mechanism in order to mask her own vulnerability. She makes for quite possibly the best character study on the show, and every episodes where she’s spotlighted stands out.
Last but not least…
1. Arnold Shortman (not just a pet name his Grandpa called him, but his actual last name)
Now let me tell you fam, hands down, Arnold has the best origin story of probably anyone ever in existence. Arnold was born in San Lorenzo while his parents were on an expedition in the jungle to bring medicine to the natives. His birth coincided with the eruption of a nearby volcano, SILENCING ALL OF NATURE AS WELL AS THE VOLCANO ITSELF. Locals saw this and believed it to be an indication that Arnold would one day become the messiah who would save the world from a great danger.
Let’s-keep-it-funky Doug wasn’t really that courageous or charismatic, and seemed to be more invested in his dream worlds than in his actual reality, so he probably was just going to end up ringing up with some low dead-end job, or even worse…
During Hey Arnold: The Movie, Gerald asked Arnold why was Arnold always looking on the bright side, to which our protagonist turned and said, “Well, somebody has to.” This was one of the main themes of the show, that as bad as things may seem they can always be 10 times worse. Arnold was a 9-year old fourth grader living in a boarding home with his grandparents and several other tenants because his real parents abandoned him (or was killed, the show never said) and still somehow he managed to stay on the bright side and help others.
Whether it was helping Chocolate Boy fight his addiction, helping his friend Harold shed a few pounds (de did more to fight obesity than Michelle Obama), helping his classmates escape a flooding classroom, NOT SNITCHING when his friends decided to moon the school principal, finding Mr. Hyunh’s long lost daughter, giving an accident prone kid the best day of his life, helping his Mr. Potts win the affection of a lady, or taking back his neighborhood from corporate America, Arnold was always there to lend a helping hand and a few wise words, all the while asking for very little in return. Still to this day he’s always been one tough act to follow.