So, I was potty training my daughter this past Saturday. Going outdoors was not in the cards -- I wanted (needed!) her within 20 feet of a potty at all times. But what to do? How to entertain an ornery toddler for hours in a city apartment on an unseasonably warm day?
And then it hit me -- Saturday morning cartoons.
I turned on the TV only to discover that the beloved product-placement-heavy 'toons of my own youth were no longer on the big networks. In fact, they weren't anywhere. While the cartoon exodus has been going on for years, this past Saturday morning was the first weekend in 50 years with no morning cartoons of any kind on American television's major networks. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Why? The FCC's rules regarding required educational programming played a big part, Gizmodo reports. In the '90s, the FCC started requiring networks to air several hours of educational programming per week. NBC and CBS buried their cartoon efforts in the '90s. ABC held on until 2004, before giving up the ghost. The CW was the final holdout with The Vortexx.
Networks afraid of messing with their prime-time slots found it easiest to cram this required programming in the weekend morning slot. The actual educational content of this live-action programming is sometimes debatable, but it meets the letter of the law.
Cable television and specialty channels also contributed to the extinction, offering kids-focused entertainment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Think Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.
Before you start singing "Goodbye, Scooby Doo" to the tune of "Candle in the Wind," there are (and probably always will be) cartoons a plenty on cable television and streaming devices.
But for Gen Xers who loved waking up at 6:00 am on Saturdays, eating chocolate cereal and then vegging out in front of the TV while your parents begged you to go outside, those days are but a memory.
Future generations will never know the joys.