What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although this is a cartoon, it's got a fair amount of hidden raciness that makes it iffy for tweens. Sexual innuendo is hard to miss in coy references to sensitive body parts and euphemisms like the "Chokey Chicken" restaurant, most of which will be recognizable to tweens' keen eyes and ears. Slapstick-style violence matches the show's surrealism (electrocution, death by vacuum). On the upside, though, Rocko's interactions with his motley crew of friends illustrate the meaning of friendship and promote tolerance. Teens and adults will grasp the humor in the show's satirical view of many aspects of American society as well as pick up on multiple pop-cultural references embedded in the dialogue.
What's the story?
ROCKO'S MODERN LIFE is a satirical cartoon about an Australian wallaby named Rocko (voiced by Carlos Alazraqui), who's trying to adapt to American life with the help of his buddies, Heffer (Tom Kenny) and Filburt (Mr. Lawrence). Between his grumpy neighbors and his obnoxious boss at the Kind of a Lot O' Comics shop, Rocko finds his new American peers to be a little unruly, but he manages to let their positive qualities overshadow their crazy ways. Each episode usually involves Rocko's efforts to undo the effects of some wacky predicament caused by Heffer's naivety or Filburt's neurosis...unless it's actually Rocko who's to blame for the day's crisis.
Is it any good?
Rocko's Modern Life isn't your run-of-the-mill kids' cartoon, thanks to a fair amount of edgy content. True, most of the sexual innuendoes and euphemisms will sail over very young kids' heads, and the worst of them actually were censored during the show's original run, but the same isn't true for more worldly tweens, who will pick up on the grown-up humor. This certainly isn't the first cartoon to push the envelope on content, and its content isn't as ribald as, say, South Park, but the iffy stuff has enough of a presence to warrant some thought on your part. There is some merit to how the stories promote tolerance among its vastly different characters, but even that is often lost in the overall quirkiness.
That said, this is a very funny show that's bound to be appreciated by anyone who notices its pop-culture references and satirical commentary on American society mixed in with Rocko's absurd struggles that make for plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Allusions to TV shows like Star Trek, movies like Citizen Kane, and eateries like Kentucky Fried Chicken; poking fun at gross consumerism and the technological revolution; and, yes, those same hints at sexuality make for funny times when viewed through the eyes of a teen or adult.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about friendship. What does this show have to say about friendship? What examples if positive relationships exist among characters? Why is it good to have friends who aren't exactly like you?
Tweens: Who do you think is this show's target audience? Did you find any of the content to be confusing or offensive? What is the purpose of creating an adult-oriented show that looks like it's meant for kids? Have you ever seen another show that referenced things you didn't understand?
What, if anything, are the show's creators attempting to say about American life? Do they portray any aspect of it as particularly bad, or are they just looking for laughs? Does seeing the world through Rocko's eyes change your impression of it? What can be gained by looking at things through another's perspective?