I recently heard someone criticizing shows like iCarly for all the perversity, and it got me thinking, "when wasn't Nickelodeon perverse?" You're talking about a network that got its start with dumping green slime onto unsuspecting kids who said "I don't know.' This is the network that has brought us the surreal, sick depravity of Ren and Stimpy and Invader Zim, the gross-out splashes of Double Dare and You Can't Do That On Television, the trippy post-modernist double-entendres of Rocko's Modern Life and Adventures of Pete and Pete, the subversive goofyness of Salute Your Shorts and All That, all the bizarre claymation, the existence of puppets of any kind, and all those other assorted surreal clips, shorts, and bumpers where giant orange balls leveled cities and boys turned inside out.
Nick has gone to the teenage girls for sure, but at one time, it was known as the television network for kids that kids actually liked to watch--all the dirt, guts, and grass stains included. If the 80's showed us a Nick that was more about kids watching the world of adults through the travels of a pinball, in shows like Lights Camera Action and Mr. Wizard, mixed in with kiddy sock-puppet shows, the 90's showed us a Nick of slimy, grimy, kooky craziness where kids ruled and adults could take a hike. And you know what? Both still sound awesome. And it wasn't so cut out like that, because the 80's had the early beginnings of what would be the 90's in You Can't Do That on Television, and the 90's had lingering traits of the 80's in shows like Nick News.
It was an age where the silly gelled pretty easy with the crazy, the absurd, the downright nasty, and even (at times) the educational, but it was always perverse--because a half hour before the archeology fun of Legends of the Hidden Temple it'd be Wild and Crazy Kids, where kids were sure to be competing to fill a bucket with slime after sitting in a pool of it with a sponge strapped to their butts. Perverseitude is their trademark.