5 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' Shows With Adult Messages

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was an early '90s Nickelodeon show about a group of teens who gathered in the woods to tell each other scary stories (instead of doing drugs and having sex, which is what teenagers actually do in the woods). Most of the stories were hilariously cheesy, but a few episodes had some truly unsettling subtexts presumably meant to warn kids about the terrible lives most of them were doomed to lead.

#5. "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup"

A chef locks people in a room with a plastic gargoyle statue that scares Jolly Green Giant pee from their bodies. He then uses this liquid fear to make soup. For some reason.

"It tastes way better than Campbell's."

It's Really About:

The rich literally getting fat off of the poor. Zeusbeard McTerror owns a restaurant that serves fear soup for a hundred bucks a bowl while employing a revolving door of downtrodden minimum wage workers who double as livestock providing the secret ingredient for his bastardly bisque. His underemployed workforce is in the unique position of being exploited by both sides of the transaction.

"Tastes like a deferred student loan payment. Delicious."

#4. "The Tale of the Super Specs"

A prankster accidentally casts a spell on a pair of X-ray specs, because as we all know, the popular kids in high school are never far from their magic and their novelty glasses.

"I keep these in my closet, right next to my chest of condoms and my varsity letter jacket."

Whenever his girlfriend puts them on, she sees a parallel universe filled with community theater players who are gradually getting closer and closer to our world.

The only jobs in their world involve robbing liquor stores.

It's Really About:

Drugs, clearly. The prankster is named Weeds (because it was late and the script was due the next morning), he's really into "magic," and he's constantly trying to get his girlfriend to try it. When she finally does, she has a seriously bad fucking trip. Also, he enchants the X-ray specs with some white powder, which he later flushes down a toilet like Debi Mazar in Goodfellas.

#3. "The Tale of the Night Shift"

A genuinely scary-looking vampire eats his way through the night shift staff of a hospital, instead of pouting out of a window to indie rock, which is all vampires seem to do nowadays.

He doesn't look like he listens to much Tegan and Sara.

It's Really About:

Workplace exploitation, which is honestly all the show's target audience had to look forward to. The main character, a teenage volunteer, hasn't slept in days when the story takes place.

"It's so hard to focus while I'm on all this heroin."

She is ultimately the one who has to defeat the vampire, despite the fact that she isn't even earning a wage to do so. We hope they at least gave her college credit.

#2. "The Tale of the Unfinished Painting"

An art gallery owner uses a magic brush blessed by a mummified head to trap people inside paintings. She then hangs the paintings in her gallery for all eternity.

Clearly, she has very little else to do with her time.

It's Really About:

Plagiarism. Mrs. Briar, the curator, convinces young artists to sign their names on other peoples' artwork with her evil paintbrush.

Unfortunately, she was unable to convince Kaylee not to wear an oversized blazer for no apparent reason.

Once they sign, the painters are doomed to be trapped in their stolen work forever. Which is like a metaphor. A spooky metaphor.

#1. "The Tale of the Time Trap"

A shy teen named Jason makes a wish on a Persian Victory Box purchased from an obvious child molester in a magic shop.

No one wearing that shirt should be allowed within 1,000 feet of a school.

The wishes come true, but cruelly ruin his life in the process, because that's how wishes work in these fucking stories.

It's Really About:

Dangerous prostitutes. Jason lacks confidence with girls, so the box gives him a hooker.

A magic hooker.

The hooker-genie helps Jason crush all of the school bullies in dodgeball, but indiscriminately breaks the gym teacher's face, too. When he wishes for a car, she steals him one, and he winds up in jail. It's like Weird Science, if Gary and Wyatt had conjured Lil' Kim.

Jay Baird writes scary stories no one reads. Go not read them here.

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