#3. Jem: A Truly Outrageous Legal System
The incredibly '80s cartoon Jem is set in a world where rival rock bands compete for the top of the chart through various publicity stunts. The Holograms, Misfits and Stingers star in movies, appear in TV interviews and hold countless benefit concerts to ensure that they are always in the public's eye. It's kind of all they do. So Jem was like a prophetic vision of reality TV.
"Can somebody get Aja a human-sized guitar?"
So, the bands are constantly trying to undermine each other as they hog the spotlight. So what kind of harmless pranks do they play to try to boost their own record sales? After all, they're just making mischief -- no one is getting hurt, right? Well, here's bad guy manager Eric Raymond hiring someone to bomb Starlight Mansion, a fucking home for orphans:
"Perfect, totally inconspicuous."
Holy shit! Also, he kidnaps at least four people during the show's run, which means his list of felonies approaches Suge Knight levels. But that's just the start.
We actually went through and counted. In Jem's 65-episode run, characters commit 157 serious crimes that should have led to jail time. Yet none of the bands or the evil manager ever do any time in the slammer. There are no legal consequences whatsoever, even though people get hurt and nearly die on dozens of occasions.
"At night ... I can still hear the screaming ..."
By our count, the rival band the Misfits commits 28 acts of reckless endangerment, ranging from driving cars through restaurants to messing with explosives on movie sets. On top of that, there are four incidents of theft, 10 of vandalism and seven of kidnapping, including a time when they put Jem in a fake house and psychologically tortured her in an attempt to discover her identity. And then there was that time when they interrupted Congress ...
"Fuck your democracy, we're musicians!"
Somehow, the criminal justice system repeatedly turns a blind eye to this rampant rocker-on-rocker crime and domestic terrorism. And it's all because these musicians and managers have money that can buy their freedom. In fact, Eric Raymond says as much. After getting off scot-free on a kidnapping charge, he gloats, "It's amazing what lawyers can do when you pay them enough." Oh yeah, he says this just moments before assaulting Jem. Truly, truly outrageous.
"Hey, kids! THIS IS THE WORLD."
#2. Danger Mouse: The Animal Apocalypse
The '80s British cartoon Danger Mouse is the story of the world's greatest secret agent mouse and his cheeky hamster assistant, Penfold. The mouse and hamster repeatedly save the world from the clutches of evil. That is, they save it when they aren't busy bickering over something incredibly British, like whether Penfold left biscuit crumbs on the carpet.
"God, I hate you."
In this world, humanity is almost completely gone and a new animal civilization is rising to takes its place.
Although populated by many intelligent animals, the world of Danger Mouse is clearly a world built by and for humans. Around London, we see statues of human kings, as well as person-sized pillar boxes, snooker tables and red telephone booths.
Yet despite the city being historically human, there doesn't seem to be any blokes or lasses left in it. London looks strikingly like it did in 28 Days Later, complete with barren streets devoid of life.
In fact, every scene of London in the entire run of Danger Mouse shows it as a deserted post-apocalyptic city where DM can fly around at high speeds and confront enemies without the worry of any civilian casualties.
Either something devastating has happened, or everyone is on vacation at the same time.
To add insult to injury for the absent human race, in the episode "Lord of the Bungle," we find out that the prime minister of Britain is in fact a bird (and we mean a chicken, not a young woman). And she is just one of many animal rulers that have risen to displace the humans. In the episode "Die Laughing," Egypt is run by a lion, and the nuclear powerhouse of the Soviet Union is run by bears.
The apocalypse may have been a racist.
It's of some consolation that America is still run by human beings ... although the USA doesn't seem to be in the best of shape. The president is human, alright, but he is so worried that Danger Mouse will hurt him that he surrounds himself with Secret Service agents, and the two never see each other face to face. The paranoia is never really explained, but it probably has something to do with the fact that Washington, D.C., is also a deserted post-apocalyptic city.
Which means it was pretty much the same as the real D.C. during the '80s.
Eventually, Danger Mouse travels to the future and discovers that the world has descended into a cat-dominated idol-worshiping police state. That's right: The animals are so bad at ruling the world that a species that sleeps 20 hours a day ends up conquering it all. Good show.
"If I break his neck, will you let me go?"
#1. Dora the Explorer: Dora Is Stalked by Omniscient and Omnipotent Strangers
Dora the Explorer follows the bilingual adventures of a little girl who travels almost anywhere. She goes to the tops of mountains, under the sea and even off into outer space. To aid her on these peligroso travels, Dora often turns to the camera to ask for advice.
So, when Dora turns to the screen and asks what she should do next ... who the hell is she talking to?
"Well, Cracked, she's talking to the little kids at home! It's interactive! The kids shout back to the TV, and it appears that Dora does what they say!" Yeah, but ... from Dora's point of view, how does this work? The answer is apparently that Dora's life is controlled by a powerful, ever-changing mass of strangers.
This entity makes choices about Dora's travels, picks items from her backpack, scares off Swiper and even can reach into Dora's world and physically help her. For example, during "The Great Polar Bear Rescue," the stranger helps Dora pull her cousins into a helicopter.
"OK, but next time we're making you do a Sophie's Choice between them."
And where is this all-knowing mass of strangers in Dora's universe? For instance, if we're watching the show, suddenly we'll see Dora in her home, and she'll start talking to us as if we are standing behind a table in her living room:
"Eyes in the wall, tell me who dies tonight."
So, what is she seeing? Who is she talking to?
And she can see us. In every episode, Dora starts off minding her own business in her house or in the woods or wherever, then is suddenly confronted by this powerful entity (us) who now has complete control over whether or not she is going to survive her next adventure. It's bad enough for kids to talk to strangers, but Dora is immediately placing her life in these strangers' hands as she crosses some dangerous rapids or climbs a mountain.
Even the monkey knows that this is bullshit.
And by the way, what is going to happen when Dora gets older? Are these strangers going to keep appearing in her house? What if she's getting dressed, going to the bathroom or being intimate with someone? After all, currently she can't even go to bed without someone staring at her. Muy espeluznante!
"AWAKEN! YOU EXIST ONLY FOR OUR AMUSEMENT, WHORE!"
Eh, maybe we're overthinking this. Never mind.
For more TV universes that should terrify you, check out The 7 Most Soul-Crushing Series Finales in TV History. Or read about the 6 TV Shows That Completely Lost Their Shit.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Does Green Day Have a Yoko Ono Problem?
And stop by LinkSTORM because getting you over the hump is our duty.
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