Clarissa, Kenan and ‘All That’ jazz

By Jerene-Elise Nall

Much to the delight of twenty-somethings everywhere, TeenNick now boasts a block of classic ’90s Nickelodeon programming aptly titled “The ’90s are All That,” which may give Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” a run for its money. As if deciding between “Adult Swim” and that infomercial for Kaboom wasn’t difficult enough (R.I.P, Billy Mays), TeenNick has thrown such classics as Kenan & Kel into the mix of late-night programming – but will it prove to surpass “Adult Swim” in its popularity with its target audience?

“The ’90s Are All That,” which runs seven days a week from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., certainly sounds appealing. During this prime time slot, TeenNick’s program block delivers such nostalgic favorites as Doug, Clarissa Explains It All, and Hey Dude, all hosted by Stick Stickly, the ever-lovable, googly-eyed popsicle stick who hosted “Nick in the Afternoon” in the late ’90s. And just in case you miss it the first time around, TeenNick reruns the entire block from 12 to 2 a.m.

On the downside, the realm of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. is, for the typical college student, dedicated mostly to socializing, cramming and occasionally sleeping. Since the entire block runs and then reruns in this relatively short, often busy time frame for most of its target audience, many college kids will miss out. Time frame aside, TeenNick is only offered through more expensive premium cable packages that college students are not often privy to.

“Adult Swim,” which is offered through less expensive basic cable packages, also runs seven days a week. From 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. (that’s eight and a half hours, folks), “Adult Swim” runs an assortment of shows that cater to a variety of tastes and that border on becoming cult classics, including Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show.

But many are far from said border, which leaves you with about a one in three chance that you’ll end up turning on “Adult Swim” only to be disappointed by a mediocre show.

But, because all of the programming is available via the Internet, the huge variables of cable subscriptions and programming schedules aren’t necessarily deciding factors. Which begs the question: What does factor into the relative popularity of each programming block? For NIU students, it came down to a battle of nostalgia versus current interest.

Students polled were split in their opinions, but the majority of students chose “The ’90s Are All That” as the better block of programming. Megan Grizzell, a senior English major, picked “The ’90s Are All That” over “Adult Swim,” and went on to recount a few of her favorite scenes from Hey Dude and Kenan and Kel. “They’re just so nostalgic,” Grizzell added.

For Senior English major Jeff Jett, it wasn’t such an easy answer. While he said he enjoys some of the programming “Adult Swim” has to offer, he agreed that today’s line up is spotty at best. The block’s inconsistency as of late had him ultimately choosing ’90s Nick.

A handful of students polled chose “Adult Swim” over TeenNick, noting that they missed the boat on live-action programming that TeenNick is offering by just a few years.

“I’d go with Adult Swim. Shows like Kenan & Kel were a little before my time” said Max Cherwin, senior English major. Cherwin also said that TeenNick would win his vote if the network were to offer more ’90s cartoon hits like Animaniacs and Rocko’s Modern Life.

All things considered, the choice of what to watch is ultimately decided by a loyalty and a love for the classic favorites of the ’90s or for the newer favorites of today’s design.