Lessons I learned from Nickelodeon's Doug

I grew up watching reruns of Nicktoons and Doug Funnie of Doug was my hero. 

I probably watched too much television as a child, and my ability to rewatch reruns and glean new insights with each rewatch is a habit I keep up with to this day. 

I would sit on the Coca-Cola stained pink carpet in my bedroom and stare at the tiny television next to my hermit crab sanctuary and binge-watch whatever Nickelodeon felt like showing me (even Nick at Nite, I was a huge fan of Block Party Summers that would show multiple episodes of one show for a three hour block after like 7pm-- Tuesdays were I Love Lucy nights, my fave, and Thursdays were I Dream of Jeanie nights, my sister’s fave).

I loved Doug’s imagination, his ability to drift off into a world of his own creation whenever he got an idea he wanted to flesh out, or whenever was introduced to new information that needed processing. The worlds he built in his mind were inspired by the media he consumed and his own life experiences, and I drew comfort from watching this sensitive introvert use make-believe to connect himself with the world around him and handle embarrassment and learn to not be afraid to be his dorky self in public.

I think I learned a lot from watching Nickelodeon’s Doug during my adolescence. Please notice how I am differentiating between Nickelodeon’s Doug, a classic, and Disney’s Doug, a trashass replica that hamhandedly tried too hard to be moralistic and ended up with a mess of saccharin afterschool special vibes. I think I watched maybe two episodes of Disney’s Doug during ABC’s One Saturday Morning but found it extremely distasteful how handled a plotline in which they gave Patty Mayonnaise an eating disorder for no reason.

I still regularly think about scenes and moments from Nickelodeon’s Doug, and turn to these moments when I feel like a little imagination is needed for fresh interpretation of a problem I am faced with. Here are ten lessons I’ve learned from watching Nickelodeon’s Doug.

1- Don’t hide your eyes behind your hands during the scary part of the movie, because what you can picture in your imagination is undoubtedly more frightening than whatever Hollywood can come up with, man-sized lizards with visible zippers in their costumes.

2- Writing about your experiences in your journal is a healthy way to process emotions and to more fully understand how you feel about things.

3- It is okay to not understand someone’s sarcasm, and it is okay to take this sarcasm seriously because it came from your crush, and to seriously consider the sarcastic statement and go through various timelines in which you interpret the sarcastic statement as truth and work out how to interact with the sarcastic statement as to not hurt anyone’s feelings and not seem like a complete wimp just in case the sarcastic statement comes into fruition.

4- One cure for writer’s block is to throw yourself onto the lasagna on the dining room table to save everyone seated from the bomb contained within.

5- Ping-ponging back and forth in your mind whether or not the movie meetup you have scheduled with your crush is a date is an anxiety-inducing lesson in vanity that will not bring you any peace and will not actually get your question answered. Just because she’s wearing makeup doesn’t make it a date. Just because she paid for her own ticket doesn’t make it not a date. 

6- Nematodes are real and even the nerdiest dork can successfully troll the school bully if they are willing to get their hands dirty and possibly infected with roundworm.

7- If you spend the weekend trying to beat a video game instead of writing your research paper on what silt is, your sense of time might have gotten so screwed up by playing your game bleary-eyed into the night and morning and what you think is actually Monday morning is really Sunday morning and because you kept worrying about the research paper on what silt is your sense of guilt pushes you to sit down with a textbook and a pad of paper and just finish the friggin thing.

8- Even minor characters have interior lives and deserve the kind of respect you expect to receive for yourself from others. Bullies can be softies when they think no one’s looking. The girl in the background of every school scene has feelings too, if you ever get around to talking with her.

9- When you are faced with a complex situation a healthy way to cope is to create an elaborate fantasy in which you become a character, who is similar to you but who can do things that you cannot, and imagine how this character would take on the situation and solve the problem at hand using their secret powers or quick-thinking and wit and allow these fantasies to act as a guide to conflict resolution, or as a conflict resolution in itself.

10- The purest love you can find can only come from your devoted animal companion.