14 February 2010

The Long Halloween: Valentine's Day

Happy Love Day to all my dear readers! As part of our year-long series looking at the greatest Holiday Television Specials, I bring you today the greatest Valentine's Day Episode ever: from SpongeBob SquarePants, "Valentine's Day" (S1;E16). First airing exactly a decade ago today, you can watch the entire episode here, while the following is unrelated yet awesome:

SpongeBob's first two seasons were pretty legendary. Working from such predecessors as Rocko's Modern Life, the show blended the surreal with a lot of earnesty and heart without the forced layers of irony that plagued some of the later seasons (as well as copycats). Generally the quality and creativity peaked with the Film treatment (2004) and has slowly descended from there. Somehow it is still in production of new episodes.

Anyway, look at this episode. There are some deep character arcs for every personality involved, including the wide range of emotion for the simplistic Patrick, realistically ranging from wonderment to rage to complacency. SpongeBob's guilt and innocence over an overtly complex Valentine's gesture (or lack of) provides a great contrast to Patrick's rashness, and his understanding of Patrick's unstable emotional state provides the foundation for most of his character reaction. It's very well written while also restraining itself to a relatively simple story and limited number of scenes and characters. It almost reminds me of something like "What's Opera, Doc?" which ostensibly has more story in six minutes than Transformers: Revenge of the Swollen (2009) has in 150.

Needless to say, we can address the very obvious homosexual undertones here. I think it's neat that the episode generally expands the meaning of Valentine's Day to incorporate a general agape love for both close friends and all humankind. SpongeBob's expression of a love for all those around him really shouldn't be interpreted as homosexual, but it's pretty fun to do so. The intense feelings of love and betrayal between the two friends should clearly imply some kind of deeper relationship. There is also a great deal of emasculating SpongeBob and Patrick, in that they rely on Sandy the female Squirrel to do most of the manly action-oriented effort in delivering their big candy balloon. The natural gender roles are switched in that the strong-willed female must battle scallops while the men ride the Ferris Wheel. This does not have to necessarily be interpreted as a case for homosexuality, in fact I enjoy a show that doesn't conform to these societal standards, but it certainly doesn't help their case.

Finally, by the way, this episode is pretty funny. "I DEFY YOU, HEART MAN!!"

Happy Love!

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