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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants is an animated comedy about a sea sponge and his underwater friends. There's lots of name-calling, mockery, and fantasy violence, but it's all very over-the-top and cartoonish. Messages about friendship, perseverance, and self-respect are frequent, and the relationships between SpongeBob and his crew are authentic and surprisingly touching. That said, the frenetic pace, sometimes edgy humor, and overall silliness of the show make SpongeBob a real "know your kid" situation.
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What's the story?
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS (voiced by Tom Kenny) lives in Bikini Bottom on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. He works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab restaurant and spends his down time with those he considers his two best buddies: a woefully unintelligent but lovable sea star named Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), who returns SpongeBob's friendship; and a grouchy, six-tentacled octopus named Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), who doesn't. SpongeBob and Patrick embark on self-misguided adventures that always land them in some sort of absurd situation, but their spirits are never dampened by their off-the-wall predicaments. Nor are they ever put off by the constant ridicule and disdain they encounter from Squidward, who tries to steer clear of their antics but often finds himself in the middle of their messes as they try relentlessly to win his friendship.
Is it any good?
This show is sweet, well-intentioned, and full of zany humor and silly scenes that will appeal to many viewers. It also offers plenty of positive messages about friendship, hard work, and loyalty. SpongeBob is yellow, porous, and perpetually happy, and he'd likely be called a kitchen sponge more often than a sea sponge, but there's no doubt that he's one of the sea's most famous residents. Since the cheery fellow's debut in 1999, this cartoon series has earned a spot at the top of Nickelodeon's ratings chart and maintains a huge fan following that includes kids and adults.
But some aspects of SpongeBob SquarePants will leave parents wanting to preview the series before letting their kids watch. Characters often speak sarcastically and act rudely to each other -- and, unlike in real life, no one seems bothered by the mean-spirited things that are said. What's more, situations are often resolved with violence, and the frequent songs sometimes touch on iffy subject matter such as bombs and making fun of people. The fast pace of the show also might be a concern for parents, especially those of younger kids. Parents also might be put off by SpongeBob's often annoying personality and his tendency to take jokes too far, but the messages of friendship always shine through the silliness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about friendship in SpongeBob SquarePants. Which characters are good friends? How do they show they care about each other? What do you do to show your friends you like them?
If your kids tend to believe everything they see, watch this show carefully with them and ask about what they see and what they understand.
How does the show reflect real marine life? What type of creature is each character? How do their depictions differ from their real-life versions?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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