Any 80’s baby / 90’s kid knows the popular Nickelodeon kid cartoon Hey Arnold. If you don’t know what the show is about, it follows a kid name Arnold and his 4th grade classmates learning different lessons in life. It was one of my favorite shows as a child. I will admit there were a lot of “dark” content that went over my head as kid.
When I was watching reruns during my college days, I realize this show discusses different topics of mental illness. When I watched it with my young adult eyes, it had blown me away. I feel like Hey Arnold is one of the most underrated kid cartoon out there. In my opinion, it should have gotten more appraisal than it received at the time.
I can go on and on about my love for the show, but I didn’t come here to geek out. Even though that tends to happen in my entries now and then… lol! Recently I was watching one of my favorite episode which focus on my favorite character Helga Pataki. Helga is a character who makes Arnold’s life miserable every chance she gets. But secretly, she is madly in love with him.
I related to her from the jump, because I was the same during pre k-4 to 1st grade. I beat up every guy I had a massive crush on. Why? I grew up with three teenage older brothers. They show love like any teenage brother. Picking on their younger sibling. Growing up in that type of environment, where it seem like being vulnerable and sensitive is not the best way to display affection, had affected how I communicate my love towards people. In other words, the more bruised up the boys were, the more I liked them… lol!
Helga was obviously a sensitive misunderstood girl that lash out anger, because of fear of rejection and being perceived as weak. I gravitated to her hard as a kid. I hate to admit it, to this very day, I am still the same way. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of improvements since the age of 10, but still have a long way to go.
Anyway, something told me to watch the episode when Helga goes to therapy. When I first watched this episode as a kid, it made me love Helga more so. It explained what was going on behind the scenes in her life that caused her to behave the way she does. It also explained why she love Arnold so much. It hit close to home to me as a child, because I felt just like her at the time. I believe I even got misty in the eyes on certain parts.
Here I am, rewatching the episode as grown adult and I thought it was very powerful. The message that mental health for children is just as important for adults. And just because a child is a child we should not undermine their obstacles. It briefly goes over the stigma about going to a therapist and what a therapy session could look like. It tackles a lot of mental and emotional states within 23 minutes. The fact it’s a kid show is what makes it more incredible.
THIS PARAGRAPH IS A SPOILER. IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN WATCHING THIS EPISODE I SUGGEST YOU SKIP TO THE PARAGRAPH THAT HAS TWO RED ASTERISK SYMBOLS. THANKS! Now I gave the warning, let’s get to it. In this episode, it dives in why Helga is the way she is. Her mom is an alcoholic, which when I was a kid wasn’t obvious to me because her mom has nick names for her drinks. But she usually call them smoothies. You see her mom always disheveled and passed out on the couch. Reminder, it’s a kid show so it’s not that obvious, but it definitely has some nudges and winks for you to get the picture. Her father is hot temper and aggressive. You assume he is abusive. Again, kid show, but winks and nudges through out the show. Then Helga has an older sister who is deemed “perfect”. Her parents gives all their focus, love, and attention towards her sister. Leaving Helga as a neglected child. This has been going on since she was in preschool. The first person who showed her kindness was Arnold. That’s when she became effectuated by Arnold. But as soon she was getting teased for it, that’s when she started being a bully.
** Watching her back story at the time, touched me. My father was very much like Helga’s dad, but behind closed doors. My mom wasn’t an alcoholic, but around that time, I believe she was depressed. Not a professional doctor or anything, but looking back at it, it appears signs of depression. Constantly in the bed and sleeping, doesn’t want to get out the house unless it was necessary, body aches, and some signs of feeling hopeless time to time. My older brothers were long gone but I heard nothing but appraisal about each and every one of them. It was like all three were all saints and couldn’t do wrong in my parents’ eyes; especially my mom’s. I sat there thinking, “This must be why I love her. I felt her pain through her anger” To this day she is my favorite character. She is not the best role model, but she’s relatable to me.
If you know what episode I am talking about, please rewatch it. I know you will appreciate it. If you don’t know the episode and the show, go check it! And check out the other episodes as well. There is even an episode about depression/suicide. I think the episode is called Pigeon Man. I think that episode is the most popular episode in regards to the subject matter.
If you are extremely sensitive person, please watch it with someone. I don’t want anybody getting triggered by these episodes. It a kids show so it doesn’t get too intense, but at the same time I want to make sure my readers are safe.
If you know this episode, comment below and let know what you think of it. If you’re a big Hey Arnold fan and want to comment your favorite mental health episode, please do so. Which character can you relate to the most and why? If you don’t know anything about the show, still comment and let me know what you think about this entry. Should I also discuss tv shows that discuss mental health? If so, what show or episode of a show you have in mind? Love to read your comments. As usual, you can do it, just have to adult one day at a time. xoxo
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6 thoughts on “TV Tuesday – Move It Football Head!”
I remember this episode from way back when it was first aired. I loved your insights and reflection – I recall thinking at the time that Helga was a fascinating character and her “context” was sensitively-depicted and yes, rather moving.
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Yes, I agree. She is fascinating. What do you think about that particular episode?
A v thoughtful, empathic and intelligent ep; enjoyed the focus on her psychological/ emotional context.
I love Hey Arnold…watched the new movie on Netflix last week : )
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Really? How was it? I haven’t had the chance yet.
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I thought it was pretty good, I enjoyed watching it : )
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