(Just a quick note: Seasons 1-3 earn a 4-star ranking and are fine for ages 7 and up, and seasons 4-9 shouldn't be viewed by ages 11 and under at least and warrant a two star ranking at best. I just met a compromise in my age and star rankings)
Spongebob Squarepants, the cartoon that marked an entire generation of cartoon lovers, jokes and references that still make us laugh to this day, and the most dedicated cartoon fan base in the world. At least, the first three seasons were. Yeah, after the movie, Steven Hillenburg left the show and took his creativity and common sense with him. That may have not have been so bad if it weren't for the fact that the WORST possible people took his place! You want names? Paul Tibbit, Tom Yasumi, Zeus Cervas, Casey Alexander, Doug Lawrence, Richard Pursell, and Derek Iversen. These people are the reason this once-beloved show is now just the same garbage Nickelodeon is scraping out of the waste bin and onto television! Considering seasons 1-3 and seasons 4-9 are basically two different shows, I will do two separate reviews on them. Let's start with seasons 1-3 shall we?
POSITIVE ROLE MODELS/MESSAGES: You may not remember, but like Gravity Falls, this show was very good at placing surprisingly mature morals in the episodes! One episode teaches the importance of not procrastinating, one episode is a cautionary tale teaching to not give in to pressure, and overall, almost every episode was filled with those charming and memorable moments that are so hard to come by, but always worthwhile (see "Band Geeks" and "Christmas Who?") While all of the characters are flawed, some more than others, they usually either learn from their mistakes (see "Pressure"), or are rightfully punished (see "Pranks a Lot" and "Krabby Land").
VIOLENCE: Just your typical slapstick comedy, wouldn't worry about it.
LANGUAGE: Some interjections are used "Barnacles!", "Fish Paste", "Tartar Sauce", etc. Also "loser", "stupid", etc. If you ban these words in your household and don't want to encourage them, I could understand why you'd want to keep this show off.
CONSUMERISM: This show has built an 8 Billion Dollar franchise filled with toys, clothes, dvds, video games, coloring books, etc.
Alright, that's about all for content, now let's move on to the technical aspects of the show!
STORY: The series takes place in an underwater city called "Bikini Bottom" (no I don't know why they chose such a name, I never questioned it growing up though). In it live anthropomorphic sea creatures, among them are Spongebob Squarepants, a sea sponge who works as a fry cook at The Krusty Krab, Patrick Star, Spongebob's dimwitted best friend who often accompanies him on his adventures, Squidward Tentacles, Spongebob's grumpy neighbor/co-worker who has a passion for art and music, and many more. Spongebob has no set story arc, so you could really just watch any episode of the show and never feel uninformed. The world this cartoon has created is boasting with such creativity, for example, one of Spongebob's hobbies is "jellyfishing". This is running about trying to catch jellyfish in a net, then setting them free, just as a child would run around catching butterflies in a butterfly net. This show is filled with wonderful examples like that, taking concepts people can relate to, then putting a creative spin on it, there are countless other examples of this, you'd just have to watch the show to see them all.
CHARACTERS: The characters are so well developed in this show, they each have their own appearance, interests, skill level, traits and peronality any good character should have, and the creators were very good at balancing the characters personalities out so they never seemed unlikable: Spongebob may be childish and naive, and even a bit annoying, he still has a good heart and very optimistic. Patrick may be a dimwit, but he provides excellent comic relief and never means any harm. Squidward may be a grump, but he's not evil. He's just that neighbor who wants to be left alone, and hey even he does noble things sometimes (see Christmas Who?), Mr. Krabs may be greedy, but he is understanding and cares for his employees. Even if he does go too far, he will usually get a proper punishment (for example, in one episode, he cons children out of their money, and that money is then taken from him, and he is forced to eat... lima beans? It makes more sense in the context of the episode).
ANIMATION: While the show began with the typical Klasky-Csupo fare, the creative team constantly improved their visuals. For example, beginning in season 2, the show switched to digital cels as apposed to hand-drawn, allowing for cleaner animation, and more complex designs.
HUMOR: The shows humor is always well-timed, allowing for the most effective reaction out of a joke, no matter how dumb it is. The show also used a lot of variety to their jokes, whether it be slapstick, anti-humor, puns, humorous remarks, running gags, or, my personal favorite, cartoon logic jokes. These are kind of hard to explain, but an example of on would be having a fire going and someone says "Hey, if we're underwater how can their be a-" and the fire goes out.
Okay, that's enough of that. Be prepared because we're about to tread into dark territory: Seasons 4-9.
POSITIVE MESSAGES/ROLE MODELS: Terrible, terrible morals for children, one episode teaches that "crying solves your problems" (no really, they literally stated in the episode that that was the moral), another glorifies unemployment, making it seem like a great experience, and, in one of the worst episodes of the series, a character is psychologically tormented to the point of attempting suicide... I"M NOT JOKING!!! It's even portrayed horrifyingly realistically, too!
VIOLENCE: Very disturbing imagery and topics in some episodes (see "A Pal for Gary" and "One Coarse Meal" "The Splinter" or any episode Zeus Cervas and Richard Persell worked on) Not for children in the slightest.
LANGUAGE: Same as before, but only much more mean-spirited.
CONSUMERISM: Same as before, only there's no quality prouct that inspires the merchandise.
STORY: What story? Seriously, the writers are terrible! They abandon logic and common sense to the point where it's grating! They tear apart once beloved characters! The plots are boasted with filler! They throw in disturbing content for no reason! The writers are completely incompetent!
ANIMATION: If there's one good thing I can say about modern Spongebob, it's the animation, but that does far from save it from being an atrocious piece of garbage!
CHARACTERS: Remember when I said Spongebob characters had defined personalities, well they have been completely ripped apart! Now Spongebob is a stalker with varying traits instead of defined ones. Patrick has been implied to have some knowledge to his stupidity, and continues to use it as an excuse to be a jerk and a danger to everyone around him! Don't believe me? Watch "The Card". Squidward is nothing but a mere victim to the behavior of our protagonists, and is usually only used as a punching bag for the plot. Yet even he manages to be unlikeable! See "Little Yellow Book". Mr. Krabs is greedy, selfish, heartless, lacks a morality, abusive, hateful, sadistic, and now he apparently drives people to commit suicide.
HUMOR: What humor? No, really! I might (and boy am I using that term loosely) be able to forgive modern Spongebob's flaws if it were the slightest bit funny. Unfortunately, the writers seem to mistake horrible puns, using characters as punching bags for the plot, and being blind to the blatantly obvious for comedy. What a shame.
If you're looking for quality content, stick the seasons 1-3. If you have no tastes, or go by the "it's just for kid's" philosophy, you can stick to new spongebob, but let me tell you, it is not for me!