Not even Scooby-Doo gets to be happy anymore.
Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia. As a result, in recent years we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of early-00s childhood-show reboots. For example, Fate: The Winx Saga is one such reboot which reimagines the much-loved early-00s animated series Winx Club in live-action. The original Winx Club cartoon was known and loved for its bright colours, fun characters, and light-hearted comedic storylines. However, Netflix’s live-action Winx reboot offers a far darker plot and mise-en-scene with its themes presenting far more eerie and complex connotations than could have ever been comprehended in the original series.
Winx Club is not the only childhood favourite to fall victim to a sinister reboot in the last few years – many early 00s children’s entertainment has recently been recreated in a darker light. The creepy live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated both spring to mind. Additionally, this trend has spread to social media with the rise of “creepypastas” – dark, often gruesome artistic interpretations of childhood characters which are shared online and marvelled at by vast numbers. Clearly, the media appears obsessed with transforming light-hearted millennial childhood favourites into edgy multi-faceted thrillers and crime dramas.
Objectively, the reasoning behind the widespread darkness and gloom which shrouds
modern reboots appears clear, if not almost logical. Millennials are getting older and
beginning their journey into true adulthood with all of the closed doors, financial struggles, heartbreak, tragedy, and blatant unfairness the big bad world has to offer. Those who once sat carefree on their parent’s sofa, eating cheerios and watching Winx Club are now finding themselves faced with worries surrounding the housing market, grad jobs, and social injustice. That’s not to mention the pressures and socio-economic repercussions of the 2008 financial crisis and current global pandemic.
Undoubtedly for many, life is not as simple, nor is it as sweet, as it was in the days when they first fell in love with their favourite childhood characters. Therefore, it seems rational for entertainment producers to create shows and characters which reflect the vast changes and often-darker reality growing older inevitably brings.However, although the sinister approach to childhood reboots is understandable (and perhaps desirable in small doses), the depressing themes being adopted within most modern reboots is leading to the loss of a vital component of media: escapism. Of course it’s great to see some TV shows and characters grow up with us, mirroring the realities and ever-complex struggles adult life brings. However, in times when adulthood feels overwhelming and melancholy there is nothing more therapeutic and wonderful than getting lost in a tv show bursting with happiness, nostalgia, and lighthearted joy. Such entertainment has the amazing ability to swiftly transport us to a simpler time, simultaneously reminding us that things won’t always feel quite so dark. Until then, allow us to be eight years old again, eating cheerios and watching our favourite characters take over the world.