The CW was the last television network to air cartoons on Saturday morning and last week it ended its run.
Saturday morning cartoons were more than animated weekend entrainment. They played a big role in our culture and our economy. Back in the day depending on what years you were a child growing up, Saturday mornings were ruled by you and your siblings.
When I checked in with my Facebook Friends to ask them to list their favorite cartoon characters and why, they responded quicker than Speedy Gonzales.
The Flintstones, Inspector Gadget, Mighty Mouse, Strawberry Shortcake, The Road Runner and the Smurfs were all represented.
Alyce says “I liked Scooby Doo’s mystery solving team,” Kathy said “Fat Albert featured brown boys who stuck together,” Michael says “Bugs Bunny because you could never get the best of him,” and Debbie says “Tom & Jerry, I don’t know why but it still is.”
One reason probably has to do as much with the all that came along with morning cartoon watching as the cartoons themselves.
Long before many children were getting up early for soccer games, Tee Ball, and gymnastics, kids slept in on Saturdays. We were able to choose our own breakfasts, take control of the remote and chill until a parent appeared. Instead of retreating to our own rooms and our own devices there was usually one common area for watching television.
Kid -friendly processed food producers and toy manufacturers made millions off of their young audiences. The advertisements were so blatantly skewed toward children that eventually the FTC was urged by child advocate to ban commercials that spoke directly to kids. That didn’t last but it was a nice try.
Saturday cartoon time was probably the last time in our lives we were that carefree and in control of our mornings.
Now, as a parent, I totally get why adults loved Saturday morning cartoons as much as their children did. I would imagine tons of babies have been conceived on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
Even though by the time my sons were born, the lazy Saturday mornings were already becoming a thing of the past, I sure can relate to the need for mommy and daddy time and kids’ time, as well. We all need time apart to wind down, regroup and do our own thing.
Video games, and iPads are the modern day kid keepers and of course of course Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, NetFlix, Hulu and smartphones offer constant entertainment, so much so that children today really have no use for their own Saturday Morning lineup.
The end to cartoon programming may even be a precursor to the end of all traditional broadcast television. Why does anyone need to adhere to the schedules set up by the network execs? DVR, OnDemand and other services are already proving that consumers are willing and ready to call the shots.
Tom and Jerry, X-Men, and My Little Pony may be gone from Saturday Mornings but they’re actually available anytime and any where there’s wifi. Even the Jetsons didn’t see this coming.