It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown first aired the year before I was born. So it’s as as much a part of my being as hazel eyes, short stature and an unnatural and disturbing love of the run-on sentence.
But tonight when I forced my children to enjoy the show with me (“Love this show, dammit! Looooooooooooove it!” “Yes, Mama”), for the first time, I watched with a critical eye.
I don’t know why I never saw this stuff before…but that cheery little program is a neurosis in the making. More than one, actually. (That would be “neuroses,” wouldn’t it?) God, no wonder we children of the 70s turned out the way we did. Here are some highlights of this cartoon classic:
- First of all, is it really all that much fun to watch a bald outcast get the crap figuratively, and sometimes literally, kicked out of him by his supposed friends? Go friendship. (weak fist pump) (/weak fist pump off)
- Lucy, as usual, instills a false sense of security in poor little Charlie Brown, producing a “signed document” stating that she will NOT pull the football this time when Charlie goes to kick it. She finds a loophole, naturally, and Charlie’s trust — and coccyx – are crushed once again. Is there a psychiatrist in the house? And an attorney?
- Linus is convinced the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the most sincere pumpkin patch in the world. Innocent Sally Brown slavishly follows Linus to the patch and freezes along with him. The result? A beagle, a freezing cold night and no Great Pumpkin. Sally has missed trick-or-treating and realizes she’s been had on two levels–the Great Pumpkin lie and Linus’ false affection just to get her to sit there with him so he wouldn’t be alone. (Ouch, Sally, we didn’t think that was coming until at least middle school.)
- Meanwhile, Charlie has been gifted with rocks by the apparently sadistic parents in the neighborhood. He has also accidentally been invited to the first party of his life. He knows it was an accident because his “friends” have told him so. Holy crap! With friends like that who needs a cayenne pepper enema?
- Who winds up happy? Lucy–for whom, as usual, everything, and I mean everything, has gone perfectly, worshipfully and orchestratedly…just the way she ordered it. Oh, and Snoopy. He winds up happy too. But he’s a dog. They’re always happy.
He got a rock. And much later, tens of thousands of dollars in psychoanalysis.
There’s one sense of human decency in this creepy childhood classic: Lucy goes to retrieve the shivering, sleeping, emotionally crushed Linus from the pumpkin patch (after she’s made sure she had all the fun she wanted first).
Yep, amazingly, cranky old Lucy wraps a blanket around Linus and puts him gently to bed. Maybe because, per the Schulz formula, grown-ups are conspicuously absent. (CPS, anyone?) What a sweet story! I need a drink.
But heck. It’s tradition. Folks, this year, come trick-or-treating at my house. I promise not to throw any rocks at you.
p.s. You all know this was a joke, don’t you? I absolutely full-on heart It’s the Great Pumpkin, no matter how many chronic bed-wetters its themes have almost certainly produced during the past 45+ years. Go Great Pumpkin — can’t wait for it to air this fall!