How do I even explain the greatness that is Hey Arnold!? This show was extremely unique and had a plethora of developed characters. Arnold is just your average fourth grader raised by his grandparents living in a New York City apartment.
I was entertained by this show for hours on end. Granted, this was around the time when I could’ve been considered “too old” to be watching cartoons. I just felt like Hey Arnold! had a lot to offer. There were an immense amount of characters and story lines to follow, but it was still one of those shows that you could just jump into.
Arnold and his classmates attended P.S. 118 in NYC. I always thought it was a strange setting for a show about kids. Am I supposed to believe that their parents just let them roam the city streets after school meanwhile I’m not even allowed to stay up past 10pm? Besides that one flaw, the show is pretty solid. Arnold and his best bud Gerald Johanssen have tons of fun hanging out, playing baseball in the street, telling urban legends, going to parties, and avoiding bullies.
One of the best bullies and characters in general that has ever been birthed by Nickelodeon’s brain is Helga Geraldine Pataki. She’s a fascinating character with a back story to boot. Just for the record, I hate myself for saying “to boot”. I wish I could go back in time and write a thesis paper on this gal. On the outside Helga is mean, confrontational, and sloppy. On the inside she is a delicate flower that needs love and attention. Referring to Arnold as “football head”, Helga is somewhat abusive to poor Arnold. Any onlooker would think that Helga is a mean-spirited kid who has targeted Arnold, and they would be right. The reason that she’s targeted him though, is because she’s madly in love with him. And by madly, I mean she’s literally insane because she has a shrine built of him that she talks to in her closet.
It’s easy to see why Helga is the way she is. Her mother Miriam is lethargic and pays little to no attention to her daughter. Her father is “Big Bob the Beeper King” who is always yelling meaningless words to Helga. She also has to deal with a perfect older sister Olga, who is the light of her parent’s lives. It’s not easy being Helga.
Because Arnold lives in an apartment where his grandparents are the landlords, he gets the sweetest bedroom hookup ever. He has skylights, a huge stereo system, remote control lights, everything a pimped out kid needs. I don’t know who hooked that up for him, but I can guarantee it wasn’t his grandpa or grandma. Those two are ancient. They’re good characters, but I was always waiting for the day when they would die and Arnold would be stuck without any family.
The best part of Hey Arnold! were the special holiday episodes. There was a Valentine’s Day episode where Helga dressed up as Arnold’s penpal from France and went on a romantic date with him. A brilliant piece of work. And don’t even get me started on the Christmas episode where one of the tenants in Arnold’s building, Mr. Huynh finds his daughter who he lost during the Vietnam War. A real tear-jerker.
I always wanted to be a part of P.S. 118. One important thing about the show was that it wasn’t culturally diverse. There was one black kid, Gerald, and one Asian, Phoebe. Of course Gerald was Arnold’s best friend and Phoebe was Helga’s so they both had pretty big parts to play, but at least the show was realistic. Lots of white kids to go around.