Classic TV Review – SpongeBob SquarePants: “Bubblestand/Ripped Pants”

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Stop on your right foot, don’t forget it!

These classic SpongeBob SquarePants reviews are about to get weird only two episodes in–this is gonna be the one where I compare Squidward to Donald Trump.

But hey, we’ll get there.

Episode two of SpongeBob is broken into two segments, “Bubblestand” and “Ripped Pants.” One of these segments is very good. The other one is just alright.

“Bubblestand” has some of the nautical humor I said was missing from the first episode. I loved seeing a scallop flying through the air–or, swimming through the water–chirping in the morning. When SpongeBob does a double take, we hear bubbles rushing through the air even though we don’t see them. This episode really begins to establish the setting of Bikini Bottom and some of its underwater quirkiness.

The plot of “Bubblestand” is fairly light. SpongeBob opens a stand on his front lawn selling bubbles–and later, bubble lessons–for a quarter. Squidward mocks him. Patrick is first in line to give it a go. Unfortunately, Patrick sucks at blowing bubbles, so SpongeBob gives him a lesson in how to do it.

SpongeBob’s bubble blowing lesson is at this point burned into the brains of everyone who grew up watching this show. “Bring it around town” and “Stop on your right foot, don’t forget it!” feel like a genuine part of the zeitgeist. The scene is SpongeBob‘s first truly classic moment.

Squidward attempts to blow a bubble but he, too, sucks at it. He cannot form a good bubble and throws quarter after quarter at SpongeBob in an attempt to blow a better bubble, getting more and more frustrated as he flounders. Then he mockingly uses SpongeBob’s technique and screams into the bubble wand, creating a massive bubble, bigger than anything SpongeBob has created. Squidward boasts of this accomplishment, claiming it to be a work of genius, and retreats to his house, satisfied. The bubble comes back for him and ensnares his house, dragging him up to the sky before popping and sending his house back down to the sea floor.

It is hard, in today’s political climate, to watch this seventeen year old cartoon and not think about Donald Trump.

Why does Squidward remind me of Donald Trump? It’s not so much what he says but how he says it. His air of superiority and disdain for SpongeBob and Patrick, idiots he views as lesser than he, feel all too familiar. And then there are his words: “How did I ever get surrounded by such loser neighbors?” One of Trump’s favorite words is “loser.” It is his favorite insult, judging by his twitter page.

When SpongeBob suggests that Squidward was able to pull off blowing his giant bubble with SpongeBob’s help, Squidward scoffs: “You don’t think I created that beautiful work of art with your help? Ha! It’s in my genes!” That is the most Donald Trump thing I’ve ever heard.

“Hello, my friends! You are looking at a genius!” Squidward shouts from his window down to SpongeBob and Patrick, who are chanting his name in adoration. Doesn’t that sound all too familiar?

Beyond his attitude and words lies the one thing I think that makes the comparison even stronger: the bubble itself. The bubble is large–the largest bubble they’ve ever seen. And how is it created? Through Squidward’s insane, angry, yelling. To me, watching Squidward unload like that and spawning something massive was like watching Donald Trump yell and build his own massive bubble. In this comparison, the bubble could be any number of things: his ego, his political success, his large following of American people. It could even stand for all of them.

All I know is that Squidward’s bubble becomes large enough to consume his whole house and cause his ultimate downfall, plummeting him back down to earth. And I think the same thing will be said of Trump’s bubble.

There is, of course, zero chance the writers of this episode were thinking of Trump when writing this cartoon. It aired seventeen years ago. But it feels impossible for me to watch this today and not think of the current Republican presidential nominee.

The whole segment is very funny. I particularly like the moment when Patrick asks SpongeBob to borrow a quarter to blow a bubble and SpongeBob obliges without hesitation. It’s a small moment, but it’s great for character building and showing the bond between the two.

The second segment, “Ripped Pants,” starts off strong and quickly loses steam for me once the premise of the episode kicks in. SpongeBob and Sandy are at the beach, which presents its own novelty: how is there a beach underwater? What is this ocean in the ocean? How are they surfing underwater? This host of questions is never answered, which somehow makes the whole thing funnier.

The episode starts with SpongeBob using the sand to do impressions of people like Squidward for Sandy. Honestly, I could have watched eleven minutes of just this. It’s hilarious. Alas, it was not meant to be, and soon Larry the lobster walks over to say hello and invite them to come hang out with him. Larry’s a new character at this point. He seems nice enough, but SpongeBob is immediately jealous of him. Probably because Larry can deadlift stadiums full of fish.

The funniest sight gag of the episode comes when SpongeBob attempts to deadlift a twig. Once he gets it over his head, the weight of the stick pushes him down into the sand. I laughed harder than I probably should.

Nobody is impressed by SpongeBob’s efforts, though, so he throws a marshmallow onto each end of the twig for extra weight. However, the two marshmallows prove to be too much weight for a meek sponge to handle, and SpongeBob rips his pants while straining with the effort.

Everyone laughs. They think SpongeBob is hilarious. He’s the center of attention.

And then the episode gets progressively less funny, as SpongeBob rips his pants over and over again purposefully for laughs, eventually driving everyone away from him because the whole act gets annoying. SpongeBob’s friends aren’t the only ones who aren’t amused. The segment doesn’t have much going for it.

Even the end, when SpongeBob and a band of beach losers come together to sing and rock out with instruments of sand, failed to garner a laugh from me. This scene should be the epitome of SpongeBob SquarePants, and in an objective way it is, but it falls flat for me because it’s a resolution to a conflict I have no investment in.

Grade: B-

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