My generation loves "SpongeBob." Well, love is an understatement. It's much more appropriate to say my generation adores "SpongeBob," and why wouldn't they? The show is a unique one amongst kids' television as "SpongeBob" has managed to transcend its age demographic and appeal to audiences Nickelodeon wasn't even intending to appeal to in the first place. However, SpongeBob is a special case, as the show's writing, at least in its earlier seasons, is so iconic and unique any quote or reference of the show can be recognized by my age group as a "SpongeBob" reference.
Other kids shows which have aired in the mid-2000s like "Jimmy Neutron" and "Hannah Montana" were obviously popular, but if someone were to quote a line from said shows, said reference won't garner heavy attention. "SpongeBob" is different. Nearly every line, even from episodes which are over a decade old, will not only be recognized, but line-by-line people will remember the gag or even the whole episode. And no, said references aren't just catchphrases from the character. Quotes like "CHOCOLATE!," "Wumbo" and "No, this is Patrick," were only said once in the show's almost 18-year long lifespan, and yet people in my age demographic will distinctly flash back to the original scene as if they had just seen the episode yesterday
To say nothing about the countless memes the show has spawned within the past few years, from "Surprised Patrick" to "Confused Mr. Krabs" to "SpongeBob Comparison Charts"
But why exactly is that? Why did a Nickelodeon show about a talking sponge be considered comedy gold to a group of kids to the point where said group still talks about the show to this day?
Well, to start, the show hasn't lost a day of relevance even after the first group of kids has grown up and moved on. Slightly insane to believe, but "SpongeBob" is still Nickelodeon's biggest moneymaker. The show still generates huge ratings for every premiere and holds the majority of airtime on Nickelodeon's daily schedule even after all these years. Because SpongeBob and Patrick are still such an important part of television, it makes good sense why people will still talk about it.
But what made the show so long-running, to begin with? The likely best thing to point to comes from the show's titular character. What makes SpongeBob such a memorable character is his cross-generational personality. He's a fully-grown adult, who can hold down a job and take care of a pet, but he's still a child at heart who takes pride in trivial and childlike venues like jellyfishing and superheroes. In many respects, SpongeBob is the person who we all want to be, whether we ourselves realize it or not. Someone with the capabilities and responsibilities of an adult, but the innocence and exuberance of a child. Of course, SpongeBob is a little bit more on the childish side, but the idea of a character stuck in the middle of ages is something many young adults can relate to. We all want to live independently, but how much do we sacrifice from our younger times so we can blend in with society and be like the other adults? SpongeBob in a way represents said audience as much, if not more than the kids who typically watch it. For a group who has to figure out their place in the world and what to hold onto and what to move away from, this little absorbent square is right there with them, making them laugh and making them aware that someone out there understands their struggle.
Some may say "SpongeBob" is long in the tooth, but I feel him still being around, like an old friend, is something people really take for granted. He's an odd voice of reason for the people dipping their toe into the real world for the first time, and I can't help but strangely admire the yellow guy for that.