The 5 Most Inspiring Inventions from “Jimmy Neutron”

Who knew children’s TV could say so much about society?

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Often times we don’t appreciate just how much children’s television can provoke the mind and inspire kids to think outside the box. The world around them is even bigger than it is for us, and some programs do a great job of jogging the mid around in all kinds of ways, forcing our youth to use that noodle and let it grow.

One such show was “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius”. Airing on Nickelodeon in the mid-2000s and based on an original movie from 2001, Jimmy is a super-intelligent elementary school kid who makes unrealistic inventions to aid his life. Most episodes involved the gadget or trinket going haywire, and Jimmy would then use his smarts to correct the mistakes he made and fix the mess it has imposed on his family and friends.

The show was fun and endearing in a wonky way, but I always loved the way it made me think about the motives behind Jimmy’s creations. Kids are a lot more intelligent than most adults give them credit for, and I was always a more mature thinker than my peers in my classes. I thought it would be cool to go back to five of the best episodes and dissect the statement being made about the world around the characters from the writers of this underrated show!

Episode 3a: “Brobot”

Jimmy is an only child, something that he gets tired of at the beginning of this episode. It inspires him to build his own brother in his lab space, a creation that he titles the “Brobot”. While the mechanical sibling is fun to spend time with at first, Jimmy soon realizes that he is annoying him more than caring for him, and he builds him parents at the end of the episode to send him home.

The episode has a couple of key takeaways for children. The first is that no only child should feel like they are alone or in need of some sort of sibling replacement. Many studies show that single children adapt very well to their environment, becoming more mature than their multi-sibling counterparts. If younger children that feel lonely in this scenario could speak with an older child or adult about living with no siblings, they might just see that they are unique and adaptable to the world in a special way.

The show also demonstrates that Jimmy and other only-children need to appreciate the friends they have outside the house and the relationships they have with their parents. When families have many kids, each one has less time with Mom and Dad; an only child will get to develop a much more intimate and in-depth friendship with their guardians!

Episode 9b: “Hypno Birthday to You”

This episode sees Jimmy make a hypnotizing device that will allow him to deceive his parents into thinking it is his birthday every day. We all know that this is an enormously relatable claim that would come from the minds of most children, as birthdays are some of the funniest memories from most of our childhoods.

The problem with making everyday your birthday is that the effect of presents, cake, and attention wears off and quickly turns stale after too many occurrences. The celebration of the day of birth is a very anticipated event, and then waiting to get to that special day is a huge part of testing a child’s patience, and then rewarding them with a payoff.

Jimmy eventually learns his lesson and reverses the sticky situation, and in the meantime teaches the young audience of the cartoon to appreciate the sentimentality of birthdays. They only come once a year in the real world, and that’s the way it should be. Anything special would be diminished if you were overloaded with it on a daily basis. Also, adults fully understand the negative drawbacks to this day, there’s no need to rush the feeling of birthday fatigue!

Episode 13b: “Ultra Sheen”

As a gamer, this episode may just be my favorite in the series from a thematic standpoint. Jimmy builds a device that will allow himself and his friends to put themselves inside the game of their choice. No longer are they using a controller, but they are literally amongst the game characters and the setting, and have to find a way to defeat the final boss and escape from the peril of a virtual world that is now completely real.

Gamers always want the titles they play to be as immersive as possible, but the episode demonstrates that no child should ever wish to literally be apart of a game. The danger and the obstacles that games represent are great simulations for children and adults alike to learn about how to problem solve in the real world without any consequences. Without that luxury, a video game just becomes, well, real life!

I think the episode does a tremendous job of teaching children to appreciate that a detachment from reality is why they love video games. If the things in the game were literally in front of them, it is no longer advisable to take on the challenge!

Episode 18: “Make Room for Daddy-O”

A very sentimental plotline here, and an appreciation for the unique qualities of our parents. Jimmy is able to alter his dad’s personality into being “cool” instead of “dorky” and the result is not what he originally intended.

Once his father has taken on his new personality traits, he is no longer as good of a parent and he doesn’t have the same time to spend with Jimmy. Our protagonist learns a tough lesson that all kids must at some point in time: we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. While I realize some children truly would benefit from their parents becoming different people, especially in the case of child abuse or harm, Jimmy’s father is nothing of that sort. He’s just a great person who embarrasses his son once in a while!

This episode would be helpful even for adults to learn a thing or two about accepting different personalities. Whether it is a parent, a brother, or a friend, all of the important people in life will annoy us, but we should never take them for granted when it comes to frivolous differences.

Episode 22b: “Grumpy Young Men”

Jimmy invents a gadget that forces him and his friends into an older age bracket so that they can go buy a mature video game, but the machine malfunctions and sends them too far into the future. Now they are not just adults, but old men!

The kids learn the hard lesson to not wish their life away so that they can do things that older children and adults get to do. When you’re young, you always think that it’s better to be a grown-up. They see the upsides of maturity without seeing the immense stress and responsibility of that stage of life. I really like that the writers tried to give some perspective to the kids watching to appreciate the stage in life that they are in because it truly doesn’t last forever. Before you know it, you’ve come to the end of the road and you can never go back!

University of Washington Class of 2020 in English Literature and fan of video games and basketball. Twitter: @LaibShawn

Thanks to Abhay Salvi

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