This devious creation from John Kricfalusi revelled so much in black humour, we’re surprised it was a big hit. And, well, we sure did enjoy it as stupid kids.
Who are Ren & Stimpy?
They’re the lovably insane cast members for the hit Nickelodeon show in the 1990s. Their surreal antics dominate proceedings. We have:
- Ren Höek : A Chihuahua who’s mentally ill and a bit unstable. However, he has quite a sharp intelligence, although is belligerent, foul tempered, and prone to disastrous errors.
- Stimpson J. “Stimpy” Cat: A lovable feline, who’s dimwitted. Tends to kowtow to Ren on most occasions due to co-dependency, happily falling in line with a sunny disposition. That often infuriates his friend.
Now, we say “friend” there. As with SpongeBob SquarePants, there’s an argument going around that Ren and Stimpy are gay and in a relationship.
The Ren & Stimpy Premise
The show follows the lives of Ren and Stimpy as they stumble through their world rather chaotically.
Their role in society is a bit all over the place, as they partake in various lines of employment. Most of which they’re disastrous at.
Meanwhile, they live together. But Ren is highly abusive (verbally and physically) towards Stimpy. To a quite remarkable degree.
As in, it quickly becomes apparent Ren is out of his mind and, in an ideal world, should be receiving world-class psychiatric assistance.
But the show is primarily famous for its dark (often disturbing) subject matter.
There were lots of hyper-revealing close-ups, zooming in on certain developments to make viewers cringe in disgust and horror.
A notorious teeth removal scene, for example, makes for squeamish viewing.
It’s actually quite astonishing for us to think this thing was ever allowed on air. In England, we remember it running in the evenings as if it was no big deal.
However, its use of sexual innuendo, black humour, graphic violence, and rather up close scenes of grotesque imagery, certainly wasn’t family-friendly entertainment.
So it’s no surprise it caused a great deal of controversy. Parents groups on America rallied against the show.
Nickelodeon, on edge, reacted by censoring many episodes. Lots of gruesome scenes were removes and one was even banned outright from going on air.
Despite all this, kids like myself watching it at the time have fond (if alarming) memories of its brazen absurdity.
About Ren & Stimpy’s Creator
John Kricfalusi created the characters in 1978 whilst at college in Canada. We think he graduated (although he was also expelled at the end of that year), but regardless he was soon working in the animation industry.
After working on Mighty Mouse (not Mickey Mouse) shows, he formed the animation company Spümcø and began work on the pilot for Ren & Stimpy.
Nickelodeon then approached him and the rest is absurdist history. The first episode aired in August of 1991.
However, Kricfalusi was fired by Nickelodeon from his show in 1992. As you might notice above, he was expelled from college.
Although his rebellious attitude didn’t endear him to many, apparently the reason for the dismissal was an inability to meet deadlines.
More recently, he faced accusations following the #MeToo movement and blamed the occurrences on his ADHD and bipolar disorder.
Which we won’t comment on. Other than to say that despite creating his beloved cartoon, his reputation is now far from positive.