Why we’re still crushing hard on the Powerpuff Girls

In 1998, a show called The Powerpuff Girls premiered on Cartoon Network that would have young girls all over the world wondering whether they were a Blossom, a Bubbles, or a Buttercup. I was one of these girls – and for the record, I’m 100% a Blossom who always wanted to be a Bubbles.

From the time I was 13 until around 17 or 18, friends and family would only get me Powerpuff Girls merchandise for birthdays and holidays because I was THAT obsessed. One of my senior photos may or may not have involved a talking Bubbles doll. And when I found out that my husband grew up in the same neighborhood as and used to be babysat by Lauren Faust – the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who also worked on The Powerpuff Girls and eventually married its creator, Craig McCracken – I flipped out for about two days straight. My husband still doesn’t understand, but if I still had even 10 percent of the Powerpuff Girls merchandise I owned as a teenager, he might.

Many people probably think, “Isn’t 17 a little old to be obsessed with a cartoon about six-year-olds? And furthermore, aren’t you 30 now? What’s the deal?” To those people, I’d say, “Sir/ma’am, you must not know me at all.” And then I’d start listing reasons why this show not only gave little girls kick-butt heroines to look up to, but why its humor and messages still resonate with me as an adult today.

Here are just a few reasons why the Powerpuff Girls are the subject for this week’s #WCW!

They embraced their differences

Well, most of the time. Like any siblings, the girls’ differences in personalities caused a lot of fights among them – ones that usually ended with Blossom throwing a hissy fit, Buttercup seething in rage, and Bubbles crying until the Professor could step in and teach a lesson worthy of Danny Tanner.

But they also used their differences to band together as a team to fight and defeat their enemies. Blossom had leadership skills and ice breath, Bubbles could speak Spanish and squirrel and used her outward cuteness/innocence to distract enemies, and Buttercup was the adrenaline-fueled tank. When push came to shove, these unique traits made all the difference for the city of Townsville.

They nailed the “tough AND feminine” combo

At first glance, the Powerpuff Girls are all femininity – after all, they were literally made from sugar, spice, and everything nice. From their hairstyles to their cute matching dresses and Mary Jane shoes, they seemed like adorable little kindergartners and nothing more, harmless to outsiders.

These girls crushed the incorrect assumption that “feminine” and “feminist” are mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, so did the character Sara Bellum – the Joan Holloway/Jessica Rabbit-esque assistant to the dimwitted mayor of Townsville, whose constant one-liners proved that femininity and intelligence can coexist and be a beautiful thing! My favorite?

Robber: “Say, Sweet Cheeks, what’s your sign?”

Ms. Bellum: “Stop.”

I’d be lying if I said I’ve never used that retort in real life. Ms. Bellum really deserves her own #WCW article. Oh, and her face was never shown in the show. This used to confuse me as a kid, but now I think it’s because she was just above it all and it was a ploy by the writers to prove a point about feminism. And I love it.

They were hilarious without even knowing it

There are so, so many jokes in the series that are targeted toward adults, and when I go back and watch random episodes as an adult, it’s amazing how much I missed as a kid. This is the mark of a great 1990s cartoon, in my opinion: a show that can appeal to both kids and adults for totally different yet just-related-enough reasons. See also: Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Dexter’s Laboratory, etc. We don’t see that as much anymore, and I really miss it.

Anyway, the cutest part of these jokes’ inclusion in The Powerpuff Girls was the fact that the girls were totally oblivious, just like most of the show’s audience. They could fight crime all day, but they were no different than any other kids when it came to adult humor. Gotta love ’em.

After all that fighting, they still managed to have a somewhat normal childhood

No matter how many fights Bubbles got into, she always had her stuffed octopus, Octi, with her. Blossom still found time to focus on her Chinese-language studies. Buttercup dealt with her first crush…on a really bad boy (been there, girl).

At the end of the day, these kids were still kids. They had bedtimes, went to kindergarten, and tackled everyday little-girl issues like jealousy, nightmares, having pets, and more. And somehow, it was believable. This message of, “Embrace your responsibilities but don’t forget to live in the moment – and don’t grow up too fast” is so priceless. And if nothing else, The Powerpuff Girls embodied that.


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[Image via Cartoon Network]