The cartoon Spongebob Squarepants has been on the air now for over 20 years. It's been on so long that the children who watched it when it first aired back in 1999 are old enough to have children that're old enough to be watching it today. One of the most interesting aspects of growing up with a cartoon is seeing how certain themes and gags hit differently as an adult compared to when we were kids. Certain jokes in episodes like "Krusty Krab Training Video" make more sense once you actually enter the workforce and endure cheesy training videos like that. However, nothing embodies the change from childhood to adulthood than how we look at the character Squidward.
When we were first introduced to Squidward when we were kids he was the character you loved to hate. He was always grumpy and downbeat. He absolutely despised Spongebob and his friend Patrick for their idiotic and goofy adventures; which often came at the price of his peace and quiet. He was a snobby artist that always came across as pretentious; especially considering his art was extremely egocentric and just plain bad. Squidward would also behave like a jerk, belittling those around him and devising ways to get rid of Spongebob. It was always fun to watch bad things happen to him. That changed, however, when we became adults.
As adults, we noticed more of ourselves in Squidward than we ever did as children. We see Squidward struggle with his broken dreams of being an artist and having to work a dead end job at a fast food restaurant that he hates. We watch Squidward and Spongebob get taken advantage of by their boss Mr. Krabs. Squidward is usually the one who gets genuinely angry about this while Spongebob is too naive to see it. When most of the kids watching the show grew up and started getting minimum wage jobs, we started to see Squidward's point-of-view.
We also gain a new perspective on his relationship with Spongebob as adults. When we were kids, Squidward was always the buzzkill who ruined Spongebob's fun time. As adults, Squidward is a tired and depressed man who just wants to have a little happiness and a little peace. This doesn't excuse some of the jerky things he's done, but it does become a bit more understandable when you see what he has had to put up with in regards to Spongebob. Spongebob and Patricks' shenanigans, from Squidward's view, can be quite obnoxious at best and harmful at worst. Some of their games often result in bodily harm and property damage to Squidward and his home.
Eventually most of us ended up seeing a little bit of Squidward in ourselves. Whether it was struggling to care about working a dead end job with an exploitative boss or dealing with constant obnoxious people you have to see in your day-to-day life. Squidward really taught us how crushing life can be under the capitalist machine and the indifference of those who profit from it, or as he said it in the episode "Sponge on Strike", "Nobody give a care about the fate of labor as long as they get their instant gratification". You have no idea how that statement struck me as an adult in working in the service industry.
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