Jan 26, 2013

Dexter's Laboratory

Dexter's Laboratory (1996-2003), which aired on Cartoon Central, the precursor of the Cartoon Network, was often effusively heterosexist.  The boy genius/mad scientist with the Eastern European accent falls in love with female baby sitters and teachers, and program his computer to speak with an unusually sultry female voice.  His arch-nemesis, fellow boy genius Mandark, stiffens into full-body orgasms, eyes transmuting into hearts, whenever he catches a glimpse of Dexter's teenage sister Didi.

Still, there were hints of homoromance. In “Surf, Sun, and Science” (1998), Mandark enters a surfing contest and attracts the attention of a young surfer dude. Mandark looks perplexed at this obvious interest, then but suddenly he understands, brightens, and invites the boy back to his lab. The two walk off into a literal sunset, arms around each other’s waists. Is this a touching tale of love blossoming between the two boys, or is it a ludicrous parody of beach movie happy endings? Mandark is evil, after all. 
 We learn a little more of Mandark in the episode “Momdark” (2001), in which he disguises himself as Dexter’s mother to infiltrate the household, only to be overwhelmed by Dexter wanting to kiss him and Dad wanting to do something in the bedroom (revealed as not sex after extensive hinting that it is).

 In a flashback in “A Boy Named Sue” (March 29, 2002), we learn that Mandark was raised by hippies, who named him Susan. As a little boy, he tried to befriend Dexter, only to be rebuffed as too girly; thus he embraced the dark side under a macho supervillain name: Man-Dark. 


In “Oh, Brother” (2002), Dexter turns his stupid sister DeeDee into a boy, hoping that he will have more in common with a brother. The next morning, he opens his sister’s bedroom door to find a tall blond boy with an amazing physique, wearing only a towel. Joyfully, Dexter rushes up to him and hugs him – hitting his upper thigh! “Dude?” the brother says in surprise. Dexter becomes disillusioned with the brother, Doo Dee, so he changes him back. But there was a decidedly homoerotic moment.

In “Beau Tie” ( 2002), Dee-Dee brings home a boy that she likes, but Dexter likes him, too. For the rest of the episode, they compete for the boy’s attention, even trying to drag him into their respective bedrooms, before he decides that they’re both kooks and runs away.