The Ren & Stimpy Show: Euphoric Humor & Surreal Imagination

Ren and Stimpy in one of their zany adventures

renMy whole life, I have been a huge fan of animated comedy, and one of the things I loved the most about it was the Ren & Stimpy Show. That series was insane: the sense of humor was so outlandish it immediately hooked the audience, and the whole style of how the show was both drawn and presented was simple insane. And when I was a child, I remember that I was literally glued to my TV every time a new episode was being released, and I couldn’t wait to see the next adventure these two friends would get into.

The Ren & Stimpy Show was the animated show that pretty much redefined what could be done in this kind of entertainment: there haven’t been any shows like it before, and even after its release, the show’s madness inspired quite a few people to try to recreate that experience. The masterminds behind the show were two people: Ren’s creator Joe Kricfalusi, who was an artist known for the gengtoto style that was simply grotesque for the animation of the American style, and the person who has proven that it is often simply hilarious, and the show’s co-creator Bob Camp, a man who took the idea of vulgar comedy to a great laughable extreme.

The unique animation style of The Ren & Stimpy Show

The Concept and Characters on The Ren & Stimpy Show

The Ren & Stimpy Show was weird, that much is obvious from the get-go (der). Featuring the mishaps of two unassuming sidekicks: Ren, a high-strung, hot-blooded Chihuahua and Stimpy, an obtuse however adorabe ninja cat. The latter behavior often led to a series of incredibly absurd and surreal storylines, which was fueled by Ren’s frequent outbursts.

He also regrets not creating that listening room, especially on the post-underground series’ possibly weirdest – and most recognizable – character: From the abhorrent-yet-lovable George Liquor to the zany Mr. Horse, and every character in between jazzed with their own unique personality that helped create a sense of anarchic humor around them all. The result was a world that could only be described as one-of-a-kind and simply delightful in the strange alliances they forged.

The influence and appreciation of ren & stimpy

Including but hardly limited to, the incalculable influence of The Ren & Stimpy Show on TV animated comedy. So when it premiered on Nickelodeon for the first time in 1991, Ren & Stimpy was revolutionary: a hilariously surreal and visually arresting cartoon with an edge audiences had never seen before. The first season of the show was an overnight hit and its loyal fans were particularly devoted to a cartoon rejected from mainstream animation.

Reruns and home video would ensure the show lived on well past its expiration and introduce kids through future generations to Ren, Stimpy & Co… The characters and their ridiculous antics filled cultural cornerstones, the show’s iconic imagery and taglines spilling over into popular culture.

Ren & Stimpy Controversy

Although part of The Ren & Stimpy Show’s appeal was its unconventional brand of humor, it also drew much controversy when aired. With its fondness for touchy subjects, graphic jumpcuts and a tendency to skate close the edge of tastelessness; it became a magnet for parenting groups with an axe to grind along with censors who wondered what exactly was going on.

Episodes like “Man’s Best Friend”, which was rejected because of explicit violence and “Stimpy’s Fan Club” for adult-oriented humor were also controversial in terms of complaints. This did not discourage the show’s creative voices, who doggedly refused to be bullied into watering their distinctive humour down.

But… Ya Know the Crazy Humor and Comedic Style of The Ren & Stimpy Show?

The Ren & Stimpy Show was unlike anything else on the airwaves, fusing slapstick with surrealism and just plain bizarre comedy that could not be topped by any other show at the time. The series was remarkable for its ability to squeeze classic Looney Tunes absurdity out of the everyday, producing scenarios that were deliriously ridiculous without ever growing tired.

The humor was incredibly physical (watch Ren’s explosive temper tantrums in action) yet also sharply cerebral and surprisingly sweet, thanks to the creators’ keen eye for bathos. Running Time: 1991-96 Exaggerated facial expressions, grotesque visual gags and plot twists turned viewers into nail-biting wrecks – because who knew whence the next jolt would come?

The show also heavily evoked the golden age of animation (mostly cartoons) with lots and lots of in-jokes, references, and homages to various classic shorts woven into its narrative source text. The old and new,traditional with unfamiliar introduced a comic experience which was recognisable but entirely unique

Stimpy's lovable but absurd antics

The Ren & Stimpy Show: Legacy

Though Ren & Stimpy ended 24 years ago, its impact on the world of animated comedy endures. By daring to take the envelope of what was permissable physicslly regarding a child’s show, the series set the stage for nearly half-a-frickin’-dozen (at least) children’s TV shows whose irreverence and outright infractions knew no bounds.

Adventure Time’s surreal humor, Rick and Morty’s absurdist antics – the DNA of The Ren & Stimpy Show appears to be embedded throughout most beloved and groundbreaking adult animated shows in recent memory. Almost instantly, the show impacted the world of animation with a visual style and narrative aesthetic that was uniquely personal while also served as subversion for its time-impacting animators by reminding them who they should be emulating influencing writers alike.

Where to Stream The Ren & Stimpy Show Today

There are plenty of ways to relive the insanity that is Ren and Stimpy or if you’ve never seen it before hopefully pick up on some recommendations. The complete original series is streaming on Paramount+, making it easier for audiences to appreciate those classic episodes and the influence The Simpsons has had over decades of television animation as we know it.

In addition, the series has been made available for purchase on home video as well – in both region-coded and uncut DVD and Blu-ray compilations. These can be full releases replete with bonus footage and “making-of” type extras, which often serve to fill fans in on how all the show’s iconic characters were created or certain stories came together.

The Ren & Stimpy Show: Ren's explosive temper tantrum

How The Ren & Stimpy Show Revolutionized Television Animation

The Ren & Stimpy Show has had a huge impact on the world of animated comedy. The fact that the show pushed limits on what could be shown made room in a post-Ren & Stimpy (1991 – 1996) world for an all new animated brand with attitude when it came to storytelling.

Sure enough, The Ren & Stimpy Show has become so wider-reaching that its DNA can be traced in some of the most acclaimed and innovative animated shows to air since. The show has a massive legacy in the industry that is impossible to ignore – nearly 20 years after it premiered, its combination of visual style, story subversion and edgy humor remains an inspiration for new generations of animators and writers.

So, The Ren & Stimpy Show is something that has continued to be a topic of conversation for many years now.

In the ever-changing world of animated comedy The Ren & Stimpy Show may very well remain one of those deservingly classic shows, proving just how effective creative vision is and that occasionally odd equals timeless. Its flaunting of insanity, its audacity to question the status quo and hallowed traditions as being sacrosanct, and their overall dedication to everything comedy have rightfully made it a staple in just about any list naming most brilliant or funniest animated TV series. If you like reading this article then please consider reading our article about Rassolnik.