I don’t get why this is even an argument – it is so clear to me that Disney is far better than Nickelodeon. Disney has hordes of iconic TV shows, far too many to list. They gave me incredibly unrealistic life goals (like being a teen pop star living the best of both worlds, or convincing myself I could see the future like Raven *whoooosh*) and perfect life advice. I swear, I learned to drive with London Tipton’s PRNDL. These TV shows were also at their best with their crossover episodes. Watching all your favourite characters come together and have wacky hijinks together was the best thing after a long day at primary school. And cartoons! Kim Possible, Phineas & Ferb and Lilo & Stitch (my mum’s favourite lol) were all ahead of their time and absolutely hilarious.
Look, I could nostalgize for hours, but Disney was so much more than the characters. Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, Zendaya, and Dylan and Cole Sprouse (to name a few) were all Disney kids. Meanwhile, Nickelodeon only really has Ariana Grande. They were cultural icons, then and now: I begged my parents to buy me Miley Cyrus’ book Miles To Go for my birthday, and was shocked to my core when she said her and Emily Osment weren’t friends in real life.
Not only does Nickelodeon lose because it had much worse TV shows, but Disney smashed made-for-TV movies out of the park. High School Musical. Do I even need to say more? There’s a reason my mum would only buy me High School Musical Singstar for my Playstation – every single song is an absolute banger. Troy and Gabriella were goals, and even the “villainous” Sharpay was pure perfection. But not only that – Camp Rock, Cheetah Girls and Zenon are just a few examples of the countless iconic DCOM flicks.
At the end of this, it’s as perfectly clear as it was at the start. Disney Channel is the most iconic network, and no one should ever try to claim otherwise.
As a kid, I think I would have been willing to sell both of my kidneys if it meant being slimed at the Kids Choice Awards… or getting a pear-phone… or sharing spaghetti tacos with Spencer, Carly and an emu. It’s time to face facts – Nickelodeon WAS the superior channel of the early 2000s and that is not up for debate.
While Disney produced cliché sitcom after cliché sitcom, Nick proved they weren’t like the other girls time and time again. iCarly was easily one of these best shows on TV in its time, Big Time Rush deserved so much more hype and Victorious (while arguably focusing on the wrong character) produced one of the biggest pop stars in the last decade. And as far as pre-teen movie dramas go, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, a Nick creation, probably takes the cake. We honestly did not deserve characters like Gibby, Jade, Megan, and a whole host more.
Nick was also the champion of cartoons. While you would probably struggle to name 5 actually good Disney cartoons, the number of quality Nick cartoons is just too high to count. Rugrats, Hey Arnold! and the Wild Thornberrys probably provide some of my earliest ‘Nicktoon’ memories but were later eclipsed by some absolute powerhouses of cartoons like Fairly Odd Parents, Jimmy Neutron and arguably one of the best kids cartoons of all time in Spongebob Squarepants. But also – Avatar the Last Airbender!! All of these shows have the orange life blood of Nick running through them; they were quirky, sometimes dark (like when Cat cleaned Dog’s teeth from THE INSIDE OF HIS BODY while he was sleeping on CatDog??) but always funny. Those were important hallmarks of a quality nicktoon.
Can we also just talk about how some of these shows were pretty progressive? Rugrats took on religion, gender roles and tried to normalize breastfeeding years ahead of its time and Hey Arnold! literally had an ‘anti-Vietnam war’ episode where Arnold reunites a family separated by the fall of Saigon.
It’s actually worrying the extent to which some of these shows shaped my life. Squidward’s skepticism inspired my pessimistic outlook on life (and also actually inspired me to play the clarinet in primary school). During the Nickelodeon golden age, not only did it produce the best sitcoms AND cartoons, it just gives off empirically better vibes than the cliche, somewhat robotic iterations of “comedy” that were characteristic of Disney Channel.