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Nickelodeon’s Early Years Were ‘Loose and Crazy,’ As If You Had Any Doubts

Photo: Nickelodeon

Between Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, and the incorrigible Stu Pickles in Rugrats, ’90s era Nickelodeon reigned supreme with its adult-oriented and just plain bizarro humor, a welcome reprieve from the Disney Channel’s default wholesome programming. This golden age of Nicktoons continues to leave a prominent legacy in television history two decades later, a fact that Joe Murray, the creator of RML, is still amazed by — mostly because the era was rampant with the network’s executives turning their backs and low-key granting animators full creative control, giving everyone a sense of freedom that would be unheard of in 2018. “We snuck in there when things were still kinda loose and crazy. I call it the Wild West sometimes, because there was a lot of people that we were getting now starting to work in television,” Murray told Polygon in a new interview. “There were stories of some execs at Nickelodeon who didn’t see [the show] until it got on the air. It was kind of a crazy time, so it was perfect for what we did.”

Murray noted, though, that Nickelodeon would never allow two certain things — the use of the word “hell” or any “satanic” joke. But besides that, he believes the network took on this laissez faire stance with unconventional, surrealist humor because of the thoughtful way it was being presented to children. “Our thing was, we don’t talk down to kids. We treat kids as the intelligent beings that they are,” Murray explained. “But we also know that there are gonna be aspects of the show that they’re not gonna understand. So Nickelodeon did really, at the beginning — they didn’t come down on us very much about it. They saw the ratings and the breakout that was happening.” If you, just like us, are now feeling awfully nostalgic for Nicktoons, know there’s a place to stream them all.

Nickelodeon’s Early Years ‘Loose and Crazy’, Says Showrunner