The ‘90s animation scene grew from the satirical series.

Animation needed a jumpstart in the late ‘80s. The medium was becoming more and more corporate, an excuse to sell Transformer or He-Man or G.I. Joe figures. How does one reboot the popular conception of an entire art form?

Well, it helps if you have someone like Steven Spielberg at the height of their power behind you. With his help, Animaniacs was born. Essayist Alex Meyers argues in his video that the series, known for its blend of high- and low-brow humor, was just the self-reflexive show needed to inject the industry with some much-needed life.

This life spawned a new animation renaissance of clever, experimental, and often subversive shows that made many people’s childhoods much stranger and the current state of animation as lively as it is today. Was Animaniacs the true catalyst? I’m not sure, but Meyers certainly makes a compelling case.

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