Episode One-Derland (Cartoons): 6Teen

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Plot: Jen, Nikki, Jude, Jonesy and Wyatt all made a pact to get jobs at the mall over the summer so they can hang out. So far, Jen’s the only one with a job at a juice stand called The Big Squeeze. She’s aiming for a new job at the sports equipment store, The Penalty Box, but the others fumble through their job interviews at the other outlets. As they try again, Jen, now hired at The Penalty Box, trains a spoiled rich ditzy girl named Caitlyn to take over her job at the juice stand in order to pay off her insane credit card bill after her father flipped out over the expenses.

Breakdown: I’ve been a bit harsh on 6Teen in the past. I’ve referenced it in a bad light. I’ve mocked it. It was just here and there, but I did it. The reason I feel particularly guilty about that, even if I didn’t do it a lot, is because I never once saw a full episode of the series. I had seen the theme song and about one minute of one episode. Plus, other people poked fun at it, so I shoved my foot on that bandwagon. I don’t like making fun of things that I’ve never seen or experienced, and I did that with 6Teen. I’m sorry 6Teen.

That being said, I have now given a full episode a go and…..some of my mockings were justified, but I think there’s more to this show than meets the eye. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it made me smile a bit. It is filled with a bunch of annoying teenagerisms, but it’s also relatable.

As a first episode, this does a good job at establishing the personalities of the main characters, even if I was at a loss for most of their names for nearly the whole episode. I managed to remember Jen, Caitlyn and Jonesy but when it came to the other three I had to look it up on the Wiki, which is kinda sad because the theme song flashes their names twice. In my defense, it goes by very fast and they’re accompanied by silhouettes.

All of the characters have memorable character designs at least, and I actually recognized Nikki from the one little clip I watched many moons ago.

They fit well as a group of friends, with all of them being typical teenagers, none of which seemingly the popular type. Caitlyn’s the only exception, but that’s the point of her character. She’s about as exaggerated as they come in regards to ditzy rich popular girl tropes.

She doesn’t understand that credit cards have limits, believes that employees hire people to do their jobs for them and bought a brand new Vespa because her old one had a flat tire and didn’t realize that such a problem could be repaired. When she gets a job to repay her father, she’s effectively disowned by her equally self-absorbed materialistic friend, Trisha, just because of her doofy uniform. She becomes friends with the main group shortly after and they accept her just fine, even if they obviously poke fun at her obliviousness to the real world.

The art style has always bothered me a bit. It’s an odd craggy style with no lineart where everyone looks like they’re animated slightly like those paper dolls you made in art class with the little hinge clips. They’re very toothy, their expressions are always a little off, and it made me think that this show was based off of a series of binder and other school supply logo artwork.

The tone and situations are very relatable for the teen crowd. Hanging out at the mall with your friends, trying to get a job, experiencing the somewhat ridiculous nature of job interviews, learning that friends sometimes only care about you for how you make them look etc. I particularly enjoyed the job interview segment. That was the highlight of the episode by far.

This show is praised for the fact that it actually has slightly more mature dialogue and situations than most other shows aimed at teens and tweens. For example, Wyatt makes an innuendo joke by saying ‘Grind Me’ when everyone’s saying where they applied for a job. He’s talking about a coffee shop.

Then they show two teenagers who are making out in the sloppiest way I’ve ever seen animated. Flopping tongues, drool everywhere, it was blech. According to some reviewers, they also make other pokes at sex, discuss aspects of sexuality such as erections and say some ‘swears’ like ‘ass’ and ‘boobs’.

I haven’t seen any further than the ‘grind me’ joke and the makeout session, but if they do then I gotta applaud them for that too, as long as it’s done right.

One of the bigger problems I see for this show, however, is its target demographic. I think the target audience is very small. At most, it’s probably 13 to 15. Any younger and they probably won’t be able to relate nor will they be old enough to watch some of subject matter. Any older and you’ll just be mostly lost because many older teens don’t want to watch cartoons, unless they’re particularly raunchy or aimed specifically to adults. And I gotta tell ya, the art was not helping there either. The bright pastel colors and highly, for lack of a better term, cartoony style really don’t make you think this series is meant for upper teen audiences. Ironically, it doesn’t make you think anyone who is 16 will watch 6Teen.

If you’re an adult who still enjoys the animated world, you may enjoy some of the episodes for a nostalgic feel, but the jury’s out on whether the comedy and storylines have enough substance to make you want to go back and watch the rest of this series.

Final Verdict:

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I enjoyed the episode enough to give it a few more episodes, but, like I said, I’m still on the fence about whether or not this seems worth pursuing for the entirety of the series. I never was one for SOL teen shows, except maybe Lizzie McGuire. If I watched a teen show, it usually had to involve super powers of some kind. Maybe this show will change my mind over time.

Recommended Audience: There’s one innuendo joke that I don’t think kids would get and there’s one tongue-tastic makeout scene. 10+

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