SpongeBob SquarePants first aired in May 1999 on Nickelodeon. The animated comedy series dealt with the life of a sea sponge named SpongeBob Squarepants and his group of underwater friends. Created by Stephen Hillenburg, It went on to become one of the longest-running animated shows on television. The most successful Nicktoon not only made headlines with respect to its popularity but also for sparking controversies.

SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants

A controversial episode of SpongeBob SquarePants gave birth to a national debate after glorifying unemployment in one of the episodes in 2013.

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One SpongeBob SquarePants Sparked a National Debate For Glorifying Unemployment

The popular Bikini Bottom-based animated series SpongeBob SquarePants spanned over a period of 14 seasons. During the ninth season in 2013, one of the episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants sparked controversy with respect to unemployment. According to the plotline of episode 11, after his boss finds out that he can save a whole nickel from his payroll, SpongeBob is fired from his job of fifteen years at the Krusty Krab. During his unemployment, the protagonist Sponge comes across his friend Patrick who assures him that unemployment can be fun with more time to relax.

SpongeBob realizes that unemployment may be fun only for a short period of time, and he needs to get a job. On conveying this message to his friend Patrick, SpongeBob Squarepants transforms into a clean and energetic sponge again. According to The Hollywood Reporter, people reacted to the message of the show because it went to mirror the economic crisis. The media outlet mentioned-

 “The episode subtly introduces a couple of hot-button issues, including the worth of social services, labor laws that caused SpongeBob’s boss, Mr. Krabs, to fire his best employee, and more,” 

SpongeBob SquarePants
Characters from SpongeBob SquarePants

A progressive group Media Matters For America even took action against the show. The outlet had posted back in 2013-

“Right-Wing Media Use SpongeBob SquarePants’ Firing To Attack Social Safety Net,” arguing that the talking heads “are using the firing of fictional cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants to attack the social safety net and those who rely on it. Right-wing media have a long history of attacking the social safety net. Recently, Fox attacked low-wage workers in the fast food industry who have to rely on necessary federal benefit programs because they earn below subsistence wages.”

Nickelodeon’s President of content production and development Russell Hicks stated that one of the most important factors for the success of SpongeBob SquarePants was its ability to tap into the zeitgeist with the purpose of entertaining its audience.

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SpongeBob SquarePants‘ S*xual Orientation Raised Eyebrows

SpongeBob Squarepants’ s*xual orientation has been a topic of discussion for a long time. The 2002 episode of the animated show Rock-A-Bye-Bivalve made headlines for promoting homosexuality on television. According to the episode, SpongeBob and Patrick come across an abandoned baby scallop. They end up adopting the baby and take up the role of mom and dad. According to ScreenRant, showrunner Stephen Hillenburg went on to clarify that sea sponges are neither male of female. He even mentioned that the character of SpongeBob is somewhat ase*ual.

SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants

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The controversy continued in 2005, when footage featuring a list of children’s shows, including SpongeBob Squarepants was released with the objective of promoting tolerance and diversity. After being criticized by an evangelical group, Hillenburg stated that s*xual preference was not a part of what they were aiming for with the series. SpongeBob’s relationship with Patrick was always brought into the scanner by the audience, which went on to promote speculations about the content of the animated series.

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