CULTURE: The Einstein-level genius of a childhood TV show. By Ethan Hale.
The problem with growing up as a film- and TV-obsessed psycho is that it can feel like your parents have a long list of shows that defined their generation, and you simply do not. Everyone above a certain age can remember huddling around a small television set to watch things like The Twilight Zone or The Dick Van Dyke Show, but younger media-hounds haven’t been able to have that experience. Our attention is split between the dozens of channels and streaming services that exist, not to mention the behemoth that is YouTube. While the art itself may have improved, the shared experience has been lost.
Power Rangers proves that this doesn’t have to be the case. Most people around my age group grew up watching the show together, and a lot of early playground experiences for our generation revolved around whatever the current season was at the time. Whether fighting over who got to be the all-important sixth ranger or spouting the absurdly long titles of whatever weapon or power-up our heroes received that week, anyone who participated was having a shared experience – the very same it seemed like our generation was lacking. Such playground adventures were never inspired by shows like Powerpuff Girls or Kim Possible. Even with how smart those series could be at times, none could match the genius of the Power Rangers.
Behind all the rubber-suited monsters and plastic toy power armor, legitimate lessons can be taught in ways that can actually get the audience to respond, unlike any so-called ‘mature’ moral sci-fi.
But none of this would be very worthwhile, if the show wasn’t any good. Such playground adventures were never inspired by shows like Powerpuff Girls or Kim Possible. Even with how smart those series could be at times, none could match the genius of the Power Rangers. Of course this varies season-to-season (as one would expect it to for a series that changes cast and theme each year), but the best seasons are perfect representations of what can be done with the show’s established structure.
Stories like Power Rangers in Space succeeded tremendously as the end of the six-season story arc the show had been building and would have served as a great possible ending for the entire show if it had to. Seasons like Power Rangers Time Force pushed the subject matter to the next level by dealing with topics of racism through the mutant vs. humanity plot. Behind all the rubber-suited monsters and plastic toy power armor, legitimate lessons can be taught in ways that can actually get the audience to respond, unlike any so-called ‘mature’ moral sci-fi. Eat your heart out, H.G. Wells.
But the kids aren’t the only audience for this show. Sometimes, at the end of a particularly difficult day, all you need is a distraction from the world – even if it only lasts for a half hour. Sometimes common ground comes from something simple, something universal. In a world where nobody seems to be able to agree on anything, we need something constant. Something that will be around for years, unchanging and unwavering in its mission. So, as the immortal words have cheered for more than 25 years, “Go, Go Power Rangers!”