Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"Dear Journal": Doug's Cast of Characters, Part II: Intriguing Themes

June 17, 2015
Cast hangout at the Honker Burger
WRITER’S NOTE: The following is a continuation of Part I, as well as an expansion of it, in terms of discussing thematic qualities of specific characters on this series.

Other supporting characters on Doug include as follows:

spoiled rich kid Beebe Bluff;
athletic star Chalky Studebaker;
sweet-natured classmate Connie Benge;
classroom teacher Mrs. Wingo;

Roger's gang members Ned, Willy and Boomer;
the A.V. student Larry;
the brainy and "weird" twins Al & Moo Sleech;
the happy-go-lucky guidance counselor Mr. Shellacky;
ice cream factory owner Mr. Swirly (whose hair literally resembles an ice cream shape), 
foreign-exchange student Fentruck Stimmel, who hails from the country of "Yakestonia" (a combination of, possibly, Indian, German and Arabic nationalities);
the William Shatner-type Mayor Robert "Bob" White
and the shallow and athletic-driven Coach Spitz.

Regarding some of Doug’s friends as the second through fourth seasons on Nickelodeon went along, I've found some intriguing themes or qualities for each respective character.

Absent Parents
Patti Mayonnaise (Doug’s secret crush), lives with her quadriplegic father but has an absent mother figure in her life. In the third season, it’s mentioned that her mother died years ago.

Roger Klotz (the town bully) lives in a trailer park with his mother as well as his cat Stinkey (a likely enemy for Doug’s dog Porkchop), yet has an estranged/absent father figure in his life (opposite from Patti). In the same aforementioned season, it’s mentioned that his father lives in a different town.

Fear and Worries
Beebe Bluff is, on the surface, portrayed as the spoiled rich kid, and comes from a local family considered to be not only the richest family in town, but also historically the town founders. Despite her status, Beebe does display elements of conflict and empathy in a few instances, such as when she fears disappointing her family when a prized item is supposedly stolen (“Doug Takes the Case,” Season 2) or when she is pressured to audition for a stage role she really isn’t interested in (“Doug Wears Tights,” Season 2).

And Beebe isn’t the only one who identifies with Doug, in terms of feeling embarrassed or humiliated. The brainy twins, Al and Moo Sleech, are rumored to have a mad-scientist father, who turns out to be somebody else entirely, and somebody they don’t want others to apparently know about.

On a different note related to fears and worries, Skeeter Valentine (Doug’s best friend, besides Porkchop) is, at one point, considered to be a genius and is even persuaded to go to college at such a young age and leave behind his friends, including Doug who becomes worried that he'll losing his best friend.

Truth and Honesty
Connie Benge is the overweight but sweet girl who is best friends with Patti and Beebe. She invites Doug to a dance in one episode ("Doug's a Big Fat Liar," Season 2), but he turns her down by making up a fib about his "cousin Melvin" in order to go to the dance with Patti. Only when she realizes this is she mildly disappointed. When Doug gets to know her at the dance, however, he finds her to be an interesting person and is amazed when she confesses every lie she ever told in her life. (He's not alone in his fibbing, you see.)

In fact, the theme of lying also becomes central in a Season 3 episode ("Doug and the Little Liar"), when the new girl in school, Loretta Lequigly, claims she speaks "Yakestonesian" (the language of the aforementioned country of "Yakestonia"). Doug initially suspects her of being a liar who just wants to take his friend Skeeter for what he's got. Yet, Doug learns that even though somebody might not be truthful in the language they speak, "they may be telling the truth about everything else [in their lives]".

And Chalky Studebaker, the star athlete, turns out to be no less flawed than any other kid, especially when it comes to self-pressures to try and be as successful as an older sibling. (Season four includes an episode that showcases this very well.)

Each of these characters are obviously imperfect, and yet they’re relatable in one way or another. And their imperfections (and honesty) are what make them compelling.