The series returned animation to its urban roots.
Hey Arnold! and its films, Hey Arnold!: The Movie and the new Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, were refreshing blasts of realism in the wild world of ‘90s animation. Stretching the generational gap from the mid-’90s to the late ‘10s, the show has had its work cut out for it to stay relevant, even with a healthy break in between its films.
Negotiating that divide and how the show maintains its potency is Andy Saladino’s video essay. Saladino compares the series to “Calvin and Hobbes” and “Peanuts” in terms of timeless representations of childhood experience.
Abandoning the fantasies of magical realism and embracing the sadness-tinged moments closing chapters in real life, Hey Arnold! brought animation a deep, meaningful sigh interspersed throughout its plethora of well-written characters.