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The Problem with Originality

December 3, 2011

Of course, something being unoriginal doesn’t make it a rip-off.  Rip-off implies that it was purposefully done.  But is there a true distinction there and what is it?  Let’s look at an example from Kenan and Kel:

I think that the character Chris may be a rip-off of Principle Skinner from The Simpsons.  

Chris is Kenan’s boss on the show.  He always has something super-goofy to say and is constantly talking about his mother.

Skinner is Bart and Lisa’s school principle.  He always has something super-goofy to say and is constantly talking about his mother.

The biggest difference is that Skinner’s mother is featured in the show and Chris’s mother is only talked about kind of like Oneida, Barney’s love interest from The Andy Griffith Show.  

And, this may be a stretch, but Dan Frischman, the actor who plays Chris looks a little like Harry Shearer, the actor who plays principle Skinner:

But, okay, being obsessed with your mother is not something that The Simpsons invented.  That could be a coincidence.  But here’s something from another Nickelodeon show that looks like more than a coincidence:  I can’t find a video of this but towards the end of the Nickelodeon show, All That, there was a character named Percy Flavin who acted exactly like Professor Fink from The Simpsons.  I had hoped to find a video so that it would be really obvious but I’ve looked so extensively and concluded that a clip of the sketch must not exist on the internet.  

Then again, Professor Frink was just a rip-off of Jerry Lewis’ Nutty Professor.

But maybe it’s not a rip-off.  Maybe it’s an homage.  But in any case, the fact remains that All That is the show that Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell got their start on before Kenan and Kel.



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  1. The last two may have been a bit of a stretch, but the Skinner/Chris connection I can totally see. Did you come up with that on your own? It would be kind of interesting to go through my childhood shows and see if anything seems inspired but other television content.

  2. aroth123 permalink

    That’s an interesting observation. I can definitely see the similarities between Chris and Principal Skinner. I wonder how intentional this was? And that’s crazy, Frischman and Shearer kind of do look alike…

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