Hangout with a bunch of people that spent their formative years in the 90s, and you’ll eventually start talking about the masterclass in kids television programming that is 1990s Nickelodeon. You’ll hear people say things like, “I need more allowance!” or “The Aggro Crag is my Everest!” Someone always laments about the infuriating experience of watching kids try to put together The Shrine of The Silver Monkey. And, if you’re lucky, someone will go off the deep end with you to hash out conspiracy theories involving Mr. Tastee.
At some point, you’ll go on to list which shows you thought were the best, with everyone having their own opinion on the matter as well. It will probably get heated. Because no one is immune to the incendiary passion that creating a top 10 list incites. No one.
I’m convinced the internet is now just a mechanism for creating and distributing lists. They are EVERYWHERE, though I admit, I do love a good top 10 list just as much as the next person. They are, in most cases, a perfectly fine tool for ranking stuff. But ranking 90’s Nickelodeon shows does not fall under “most case,” and “perfectly fine,” is not perfectly fine. No, we need something different if we want to find out what the best shows are. In fact, we need to take it to a level that will galvanize and infuriate any and all participants. And the only logical answer is for our beloved shows to compete mono y mono in the vaunted sands of the Coliseum.
Enter the 32 show bracket.
Why a bracket? Because in a bracket there is life and there is death, hope and despair, goliaths and giant killers. The bracket format forces us to contextualize our shows in head-to-head competitions that we probably never, ever imagined before. I’m looking at you (4) Keenan and Kel vs. (5) CatDog. But in a way, we’ll be subconsciously contextualizing ourselves and our childhoods as well. And I won’t be at all surprised when nostalgia goes on to dictate this tournament with greater authority than any sort of objective metric ever could.
I bet by now you’re wondering how the seedings and regions were determined. Let me just say that I did not want the burden of putting together the final field all by myself, so with the help of frequent Second Lunch consultant, Nate (and Wikipedia), I created a list of the 32 shows. From there, we separately grouped shows into seedings based on what we believed to be the most significant to the least, in terms of their cultural impact/awareness, and not by what our personal favorites were. If that were the case, Nick Arcade would have been seeded WAY higher, you guys. I vividly recall sprinting home–arms flailing–from the bus stop, just to watch other kids ride a video game carpet or river raft like they were actually in the frackin’ game. Anyway, we assigned four 1-seeds, four 2-seeds, etc. all the way down to the 8th seeds. We then compared our seedings and began to adjust them to a final seeding after some debate. Several shows either moved up or down a spot and one or two of them jumped a few rankings. Once we agreed on final rankings, I then shuffled each seed at random into one of the four regions to make the bracket official.
Listen, you are going to flat out disagree with some of these seedings. That’s supposed to happen. Don’t let this detract from the fact that YOU have a direct say in what show will advance #GetOutTheVote. I also look at it this way, seed groupings 1 and 2 are basically a top 10 list in and of itself. Any one of them could flip groupings. They might as well be labelled 1A and 1B. Also, I honestly believe that a 3 seed could go gangbusters and win this whole thing if the right match-ups fall into place. It’s not even out of the realm of possibility that a 4 or 5 seed shows up in the final four. That’s the beauty of this whole thing. It’s not just about who lands at the #1 spot. It’s the journey of how we collectively get there.
So, put a couple pumps into your Reeboks, pull out a fresh Capri Sun, fall into Flying V formation, and get ready to rumble.