We have met the neighbor and he is us

I love Spongebob Squarepants. The show and the person. I revere his inimitable optimism. Patrick I find likewise adorable for his straightforward ineptitude. Squidward would be the foil obviously, a sort of puritan Malevolio ill-joy, a neighbor like Mr. Wilson to Dennis the Menace, but I am determined that Squidward No-pants is something more.
Probably we’re talking the usual protagonist, deuteragonist and tritagonist, as comedic trios go. But I chiefly mean to assert that as foil Squidward is no antagonist. Our main character may learn valuable lessons through his misadventures, we may see Squidward suffer over the course of his, but in the end it’s the butt of the joke who sees the light.

Spongebob’s stumblings result from no more than a child’s curiosity and enthusiasm. His tragic flaws are his strengths actually. Squidward on the other hand fails because of deep irredeemable character failings.

What is the literary term for the audience’s mirror? I don’t feel too self-consciously a curmudgeon or bald self-aggrandized buffoon to say I see Squidward. And I refuse to believe it’s because I may be an above average age viewer.

With which Bikini Bottom dweller do you most identify? I know someone who’ll say Spongebob, but we’d all like to say Spongebob. He is, after all, the heroic figure. But in terms of a plot proponent with thoughts in his head, with idiosyncratic prejudices and with human frailty, I’m certain we really know ourselves in Squidward. We know what it feels like to be persecuted, lampooned, belittled and ostracized, even deservedly so. I’ve seen poor Squidward horribly, near-irrevocably marginalized. But there are just enough sweet episodes, salvation in my sentimental opinion, to reveal that the Square Pants creative team favors Squidward as hero.

When Squidward puts the lie to Krab’s motto “we will not deny our guests even the most ridiculous request,” when he ventures the impossible to pull together an orchestra to salvage his ego, when he conceals a newfound addiction to krabby patties, or when he decides, most unlike himself, to stir up a squid-only residential berg, we madly love ourselves.

Am I wrong? How very Squidward of me.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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