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Kenan and Kel as Satire?

November 4, 2011

Watching episodes of Kenan and Kel lately, I’ve picked up something different than I did when I was a kid.  Back then, I thought it was just a silly show but watching it now, I feel like the whole show may be a satire of a sitcom.  The writer credited with writing more episodes than anyone by far, Kim Bass, has a history writing for In Living Color.  I am not very familiar with the show, but watching some episodes recently, I’ve noticed that the show features what I would consider to be very good satire of some sitcoms like Sanford and Son.


It makes sense that a kid’s show would incidentally parody more conventional sitcoms because as an adult writer your tastes are going to be much different from the tastes of someone so much younger than you.  I’m sure that adults who write for kids shows can still come up with stuff that they think is good in a kid’s context and they can remember back to the kinds of things they thought were funny as kids but I think that in order to write something that is truly good, the writer has to enjoy it.  That may not be 100% true in every circumstance but I think that it would definitely help.  I know that I am so much more able to come up with stuff that I think is actually good when I’m enjoying doing it.


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  1. I think there’s definitely something to be said for writing about what you enjoy, or more importantly, what you know. It’s just easier to write about those things. It makes sense then that an adult is going to try and weave some of their “grown up” humor into the series beyond the basic plot lines and comedy meant for the younger audience.

  2. I think writers generally try to incorporate adult elements into kid’s shows so that their parents that might be watching can enjoy the show, albeit differently, and not want to commit suicide while their kids make them watch the shows.

  3. That is interesting. As with my show, Everybody Hates Chris, there is a blanket of African American stereotypical comedy and heavy doses of pop culture or more elderly satire. It is interesting how, as kids, you don’t seem to pick up on the intelligence of the writers.

  4. Ben Hilderbrand permalink

    I know what you mean, Joshykins. I know my best writing comes when I’m enthusiastic about the ideas I’m coming up with. That’s why most academic papers come across as dull and unimaginative. If you you’re not happy with what you’ve written, chances are nobody else will be.

  5. When I go back and watch a lot of the TV Shows and Movies I enjoyed when I was younger, it always amazes me how the writing can often target children and adults. Because adults write shows for children and teens, they add in a level of intellect that can be observed by adults, while outwardly cater to children. Some Disney movies especially shocked me, when I went back and watched these “wholesome” features that had stranger themes and nuances than I realized at the time. I’m sure the same could be said for Kenan & Kel.

  6. andrew permalink

    It is interesting to think about the idea of satire in children’s television. Going back to many of the shows I watched as a child, I have found so many parodies and satires of television and culture, which at the time I was unaware of. Don’t believe me? Go watch Ducktales. 10 times out of 10 there is a satirical or parodical reference.

  7. austinb13 permalink

    I think you’re right: it is all satire. Some of it is very subtle and may be just part of the plot but there are some scenes that are made to be satirical strictly for adults. I remember watching disney movies and picking up on entirely new things now that I am older, it’s amazing how much they can add in to different age groups.

  8. Honestly, I think you’re one onto something. I think that this show could very easily become a satire. Trying to remember the show, I don’t think that it was intended so much to be a satire as just a slapstick comedy. I really think I may take some time and watch some episodes and even watch the movie too

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