Remembering Angela Anaconda, The Bizarre Fever Dream Of A Kids Show That Included Bizarre Fever Dreams

There are a lot of weird ’90s kids shows from yesteryear. The forgotten animated shows that have likely slipped from your memory for one reason or another. One such weird show is Angela Anaconda, a blast from the past that your mind may have erased because let’s face it, it was creepy as hellAngela Anaconda was, in many ways, a pretty ho-hum tale of an eight-year-old girl experiencing eight-year-old struggles. However, many elements of the show made it anything but ordinary.

The most unnerving factor of the show was its strange animation style, which was unlike anything on TV, and remains pretty unique to this day. This so-called kids’ show was part of a Nickelodeon sketch show called KaBlam! and it included other bizarre traits such as offensive stereotypes and near nudity. KaBlam! kids shows have likely lain dormant in that part of your brain trying so hard to forget the nightmares of your past. But if you care to explore, here’s everything you don’t remember about the weird show Angela Anaconda.

Every Episode Features A Dream Sequence That Often Depicts The Antagonist In A Borderline Violent Situation

Angela Anaconda has a wildly overactive imagination. And a violent one. In one of Angela’s fantasies, Nanette falls down a hill until she lands in the filthy waters of the “municipal sludge treatment plant” where she apparently drowns. In another fever dream, Angela essentially murders Nanette. She forces Nanette to sink through ice into piranha-infested waters – don’t worry about the contradiction inherent in that scenario – where she freezes into an iceberg. She then floats out to sea before being confiscated by “Eskimo babies” who build an igloo out of her frozen form. That’s just one example of Angela’s frequently messed up fantasies.

Angela Imagines Two Of Her Teachers Kissing In The Nude

In the same episode where Angela daydreams her rival Nanette freezing to death in icy waters, she also envisions two of her teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Brinks, as exhibitionists. There’s a crazy scene in which the married teachers ice skate up to one another with most of their bodies obscured by a bench (although much of Mrs. Brinks’s bust is visible) and kiss. It is obviously quite jarring to see in a kids’ show.

There’s more obsession with nudity in this episode, as Mr. Brinks at one point tells Nanette her skating skills are the “bee’s naked knees.” There’s many things wrong with such a phrase, but the strangest is that this grown man has a soft voice and sounds imminently creepy when he says this to an eight-year-old.

Oh, and another hallucination depicts Nanette prepping to literally kiss Mrs. Brinks’ a**. That’s probably all that needs to be said about that.

The Animation Used Was Like Watching Cut Up Photographs Interact With Each Other

The show used what’s called “cutout animation,” a similar style used in South Park. It was much creepier in Angela Anaconda because the characters retain colorful CGI bodies while their faces are essentially black and white photographs. A program called “Avid Elastic Reality” was used to achieve the style and interestingly that same program was discontinued the year Angela Anaconda debuted. In addition to black and white faces, the characters had black and white limbs to match. The entire effect was one of aliens with long, gangly limbs and lifeless, grey skin.

The strange combination of black and white with some color made the whole aesthetic of the show that much more surreal and weird.

‘Mean Girls’ And ‘Angela Anaconda’ Are So Similar It’s Uncanny

Though there doesn’t seem to be any common denominator between the two, Tina Fey’s hit movie Mean Girls has a striking amount of similarities to Angela Anaconda. There are so many parallels between the show and the movie that Buzzfeed did a list highlighting them all, and the evidence is noteworthy. Most convincing is the similarities between the two protagonists, who are both painted as ostensible outsiders. Both have unique friends, experience fantasies so strong they border on hallucination, and are capable of dishing out as much cattiness as they receive. Plus, they’re redheads. So it’s pretty much the same.

Considering She’s Not The Star Of The Show, Nanette Sure Is The Center Of Attention

Nanette receives quite a bit of attention from the characters in Angela Anaconda.  Mr. Brinks gives her some strange compliments while skating, but Mrs. Brinks also seems a bit too fond of her. The crotchety teacher treats all of her students with disdain, except for Nanette on whom she constantly heaps praise and adoration. Even though Nanette is a loathsome character – a suck-up who treats others like garbage – all of the adults lavish her with praise. At one point Nanette asks her gardener, Alfredo, to sweep the snow in her path more quickly so she can get somewhere. Just one example of her snobbish behavior.

Be it Angela’s hatred of Nanette or their teacher’s inexplicable adoration of her, the show somewhat inadvertently revolves around her.

Angela’s Best Friend Was The Token Chubby Kid

Angela Anaconda surprises as the token chubby kid – a role often reserved for boys in the history of entertainment – is her best friend, Gina Lash. In the first episode, Gina is introduced eating a donut on a bench. She has chubby arms, chubby legs, and a rotund figure. She is the archetypal fat kid in every way except she’s female. One would say that Gina’s non-normative body type would perhaps be a way the show challenges gender norms, except that the “chubby best friend” is in itself a stereotype within entertainment. Gina Lash is quite smart but always gives in to food when offered it. Not exactly a Barb from Stranger Things.

 

The Show Doesn’t Always Follow Much Straight-Forward Logic

The show’s episodes are 22-minutes long, but consist of two 11-minute, independent stories. The first episode’s two parts are “Pet Peeves” and “Rat Heroes.” “Pet Peeves” features Angela and her classmates running a pet wash to raise funds for a school trip to a monster truck rally. Angela’s nemesis Nanette pushes for a trip to Ballet Russe, so, of course, rivalry ensues.

“Rat Heroes” portrays a class trip to a space museum (unrelated to the first part). Though the class does meet a rat at the museum, it’s not a prominent plot point in the story. The segment focuses on Angela’s excitement over meeting an astronaut. One really has to wonder the thought process behind naming the show’s segments.

The “Hunk” Of The Show Is An Italian… With A Pompadour

Johnny Abatti is a schoolmate of Angela’s. An Italian boy, he is raised by his grandparents and always has pristine hair – which he keeps in a neat (and stereotypically Italian) pompadour. A blue pompadour, no less. It was likely for this rockin’ do that Nanette Manoir has the hots for Johnny, but her love goes unrequited as Johnny harbors secret feelings for Angela. Johnny’s popularity is odd as he is frequently shown picking his nose. Nonetheless, he appears to be the heartthrob of the school. Maybe nose-picking is indeed desirous among eight-year-olds.

The Very First Episode Had An Astoundingly Racist Asian Character

In the second part of the first episode – a story called “Rat Heroes” – Angela’s class goes to a space museum. The tour guide at the museum is an Asian woman whose broken English makes South Park‘s Tuong Lu Kim, the owner of City Wok, sound like Frasier Crane. What’s more, she has huge buck teeth and ushers the children through the museum in a fast march screaming, “Move! Move! Move!” Watching this episode, one has to remind oneself that this aired in 1999 not 1959.

Nanette Manoir Has Even Been Celebrated As A Definitive Mean Girl

Thelma Adams of the New York Post wrote a piece in 2000 titled, “Good News For All Bad Girls – Cartoon World’s Mini Queens Of Mean.” In the piece, three animated mean girls are highlighted: Angelica from Rugrats, Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold!, and Nanette Manoir from Angela Anaconda.

Adams said of Nanette, “…she is a lesser-known but more sophisticated bad girl. She is the Joan Collins of daytime animation… Nanette is cultured, coifed and cutthroat, as opposed to the scrappy, fright-haired, freckled Angela – for whom no bad deed goes unpunished. As the pair battle for dominance – with Nanette always better equipped – it is clear that being more beautiful, richer and more popular – having all the toys – doesn’t make you a better person. But the show is honest enough to show that it can be a lot of fun.”

That Nanette is recognized in pop culture for her esteemed mean girl status just goes further to prove she was the actual cult leader of this bizarre show, not Angela.

Her Dog Is A Female Named King

Angela’s dog is named King despite being female. This name choice would seem to imply that the show’s writers believe gender norms to be irrelevant and it’s a small form of subversion. It’s a great message and in stark contrast to the show’s opening scenes in which Angela’s mother is a bad driver. One has to wonder if the show’s creators were calculated in their themes and messages, or, like much of the show, were embracing a sense of randomness.

The Show Started As A Short On KaBlam!

KaBlam! was a ridiculous and awesome sketch show created specifically for SNICK (Saturday Night Nickelodeon). It was wildly popular and also critically lauded, boasting an 8/10 on IMDB and an 8.7/10 on TV.com. The show featured such great shorts as Prometheus and Bob, Sniz & Fondue, and of course, Action League Now! While it had recurring shorts like those just mentioned, there were also one-offs and irregular entries, one of which was Angela Anaconda. As a short animated sketch, Angela Anaconda only appeared twice on KaBlam!, but it wasn’t long before Angela Anaconda got the green light to go long-form.

The Long-Form Show Was Actually Not On Nickelodeon In The US

Despite debuting on Nickelodeon’s KaBlam!, Ms. Anaconda didn’t air on Nickelodeon once it went long-form. It aired on both Starz Kids and Family and Fox Family Channel, until the latter was bought by Disney in 2001. There’s speculation that the multiple networks involved with the show led to complicated rights issues and that this accounts for how difficult it is to purchase the show on DVD. Volume 1 sells for over $50 on Amazon.

The DVDs are more readily available in Australia because the show originally aired on Nickelodeon Australia. Still, there are four volumes of the DVDs containing the first twenty episodes in total.

The First Season Aired 26 Episodes In One Month

The first long-form episode of Angela Anaconda was aired on the Fox Family Channel, October 4, 1999. The season finale consisted of the stories “The Nanette Lock” and “Gordy Floats,” airing on November 8, 1999. Season 1 had 26 episodes – 52 individual stories – and aired in its entirety in the course of just over a month. A new episode aired every weekday, which is completely outside the norm with cartoons, but like others, the following two seasons were spread out over longer periods of time despite the second having the same number of episodes and the final only half as many.