SpongeBob Reviews: Season 1 (Culture Shock/F.U.N.)


Oh boy, it’s that episode everyone except me loves.

Honestly I’ve been dreading getting to this episode because I know it’s a pretty popular one but I really don’t like it, and my reason for disliking it is weird and personal and kind of embarrassing and it’s not something I like talking about, but I have to talk about it because I have to review the episode and that means I have to say why I don’t like it and – and –

Sigh. Okay. You ever have a song that you can’t stand to listen to, not because it’s a bad song but because you associate it with a bad memory? This episode is like that for me. It reminds me of an uncomfortable and embarrassing moment in my life that I don’t like to think about.

It’s a shame because really, this isn’t a bad episode. There’s some stuff in here that I like a lot, and I like the general idea of it but then you get to the end and… I just can’t.

Let’s just focus on the things I like first. As I said, I like the general idea of the episode. A talent show at the Krusty Krab sounds like it would be a lot of fun, right? Seeing what different characters would do for their acts, SpongeBob’s adorable enthusiasm, Squidward being pretentious. It all sounds good. And some of it is! Plankton, Pearl and Gary’s acts are all funny and cute. Then you have Squidward’s act, and even his act is pretty funny at first. He does some weird interpretive dance and the crowd doesn’t like it. The crowd really doesn’t like it, and they show it.

So, okay. Here’s why this episode is hard for me to watch.

When I was ten, my class had a talent show. I call it a talent show but only two students actually performed anything, me and another girl. At that point I had been playing the violin for a couple of years already and I was fairly advanced for my age. So I chose to perform a piece that was around three or four minutes long, which to a group of ten year olds might as well be hours. But I didn’t think about that. It was a beautiful piece! I could play it well! Everyone would be so impressed! I was the most pretentious ten year old to ever exist! No seriously, I was. So I played my piece and  I did play it well, but none of my classmate enjoyed it. They didn’t throw things at me or make comments or anything like that, they kept it civil, but I was painfully aware of how bored they all were. It was an awful feeling. When it was time to pick a winner, no one voted for me. Not a single person. Not even my friends.

I’m aware that it sounds like a silly story now, but at the time it was a huge blow to my ego and it felt awful and humiliating. Even years later I don’t really like to think about it, and this episode forcibly reminds me of it. To be fair, in Squidward’s case, he probably did deserve this, or at least some of it. He’s an asshole to SpongeBob throughout most of the episode and he’s extremely arrogant. For that reason, I don’t necessarily feel sorry for Squidward, but I still feel very uncomfortable watching what happens to him. It makes me cringe.

I get why people like this episode. Really, I do. My reason for disliking it is extremely personal and I don’t expect anyone to get it, but there it is. I don’t like watching this episode, and I also don’t like talking about.

Rating: 3/10 (Keep in mind, I rate episodes based on my personal and entirely subjective reaction/feelings about them, not for their objective quality.)


Well, here’s an episode I like, and it’s another iconic episode. Or more accurately, an episode with an iconic moment, because really that one moment is what people seem to remember and talk about more than anything else in the episode. The one moment overshadows the episode as a whole, isn’t that kind of funny?

I guess I can’t blame people for focusing so much on that moment, which happens to be a very catchy song. The song’s title is the same as the episode’s title, so they must have expected for that to be the main takeaway of the episode. (Speaking of the title card, it’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? It’s the darkest title card we’ve seen so far. I mean dark as in literally dark, not like ~dark and edgy~. The other title cards are colorful and have vibrant designs, but in this title card the only color and design we get is in the word itself. Otherwise it’s completely black.)

Anyway, the episode is pretty good. Maybe not super memorable, but good. It’s about SpongeBob’s attempt to reform Plankton. He sees how lonely Plankton is, and he thinks that if he reaches out to Plankton and becomes his friend, it might make him less evil. It’s sweet that SpongeBob is able to sympathize even with the enemy, but it’s also naive to think that changing Plankton would be that easy.

When SpongeBob shows up at the Chum Bucket saying he wants Plankton to play with him, Plankton goes along with it. He thinks that getting closer to SpongeBob will make it easier to get the Krabby Patty formula, but it soon starts to look like he genuinely likes SpongeBob. They sing a song together about the meaning of fun and friendship, and Plankton seems like he’s enjoying himself.

I don’t think it was fake. Not entirely, anyway. I think Plankton really was having fun. But in the end, he chooses thievery and evil over SpongeBob. Its presentation is melodramatic and silly, but it’s actually kind of a sad moment. It’s also a unique message for a children’s show to give us, though one that I think is important. Sometimes bad people are just bad people. Sometimes they’re unable or unwilling to change, no matter how nice to them you are. SpongeBob likes to see the best in people so it’s not an easy message for him to swallow (and indeed he completely forgets it in future episodes due to the show’s lack of continuity), but I like this episode for giving us that message. I think it’s important for kids to know that changing someone isn’t always possible, and that it’s not their responsibility to try and change someone anyway.

I feel sorry for SpongeBob because this kind of destroys his world view, but I also feel sorry for Plankton in a way. He had a chance at friendship and real happiness and he turned it down. This episode shows us that his misery is entirely self-inflicted and there’s something sad about that.

I hate to bring up post-movie again when I’ve already said that I’m trying not to do that, but this episode becomes a bit more interesting (to me, at least) after having seen Friend or Foe, the episode where we find out that Plankton and Mr. Krabs were once best friends. I don’t know if at the time this episode came out they had thought that much about Plankton and Mr. Krabs’ past, but it does kind of give a different context to Mr. Krabs’ distrust in this episode and it’s fun to think about.

Rating: 7.5/10


2 thoughts on “SpongeBob Reviews: Season 1 (Culture Shock/F.U.N.)

  1. Great reviews, especially of F.U.N. (:

    I really agree with you about it’s message and I do wish other animated shows would also point this out because honestly, a lot of them have this horrible idea of blaming the victims of bullying.

    Like, if you don’t try to be friends with the bully (who conveniently always seems to come from a bad family or are bullied themselves to try to justify it even though it absolutely doesn’t) or eventually lash out after ages of having to deal with assault and insults (or in my case, getting fat shammed, ableism and homophobia) and no one listening to you or telling you to just ignore it (another awful message that shows should stop using), these shows tell you are the bad one and deserved to be punished.

    It’s an awful message and I praise SpongeBob for willing to show that some people can’t be changed, that some people are dicks and bullies.

    Again great review and sorry if my comment got a bit person there.


    • Yes, thank you for this comment, I totally agree! I hate victim blaming of any kind and I hate this idea that people have to forgive their bullies and abusers, let alone try to change them. It’s great that this episode shows us that Plankton is miserable by his own fault and trying to change him is only a waste of time and energy. Some people are just dicks and that’s all there is to it.

      And don’t worry about getting personal, I get where you’re coming from and I’m glad you liked the review.


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