Feb 25, 2013

Tiny Toon Adventures

Everyone misunderstands the Tiny Toons.  They weren't kid versions of classic Warner Brothers characters -- Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and so on.  They weren't the offspring of the classic Warner Brothers characters.  And they weren't tiny -- they were adolescents, aged 13-15.  They lived with their parents while attending  Acme Looniversity, where the classic characters taught them the art of being toons.

After years of decline -- no new cartoons, old ones chopped to bits to eliminate the violence  -- Warner Brothers was trying to modernize for a new generation of fans.  So the Tiny Toons began appearing in after-school time slots, first in syndication (1990-1992), and then on the Fox network (1992-1995).

  They drew on the personalities of the classic characters, but their adventures were strictly modern, involving video games, cell phones, and lots of sly references to 1990s pop culture, from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to Roseanne Barr.

There were no domestic partnerships, as in the Hanna Barbara cartoons of a generation before. Instead, the characters displayed the heterosexism of the major teen sitcoms of the era (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, California Dreams), with lots of dating and romance. But there were plenty of subtexts.

Plucky, an egotistical duck, and Hamton, a shy, sensible pig, are partnered for a number of adventures, including parodies of Batman and Star Trekand sometimes are shown living together.  They break up, seek out other "best friends," realize how much they care for each other, and reconcile.

The human character Elmyra usually lacks heterosexual interest -- she is busy hugging and squeezing "cute little animals" to death.  But in one episode, she falls in love with a new girl named Rhonda Queen, and goes to absurd lengths to try to win her affection.

The character of Gogo Dodo also lacks heterosexual interest, and brings a vacuum cleaner to the school dance.

The gay kids in the audience had a lot to identify with.  A lot more than Animaniacs, which replaced Tiny Toon Adventures in 1993.  Even more than in the contemporary Looney Tunes Show.

See also: Animaniacs