When you hear the words Teen Titans you probably think of a kick-ass superhero team consisting of an alien, shapeshifter, humanoid robot, half-demon witch, and a regular boy in a mask who, for whatever reason, is unanimously selected to lead the group. In terms of the Teen Titans’ place on television, you probably reminisce about the animated series that aired from 2003-2007—a series that is full of action, story, character development, and most importantly, heart.
Many animation enthusiasts who were born in the 90s and raised in the 2000s, remember Teen Titans as one of their favorite animated series growing up. Many have fond memories tied to it that have defined their childhood right alongside the popular titles of Danny Phantom, Kim Possible, Justice League Unlimited, and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The early-to-mid 2000s didn’t showcase anything notable in the world of animation aside from the few stand-alone titles mentioned above. Fast forward to the years of 2010-2015 and you’ll notice a spike in high-quality animated series with a focus on storytelling. Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, the list goes on. This period welcomed a great era in the world of cartoons, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
Many of these iconic series have had their moment in the spotlight and were eventually either resolved or cancelled all together. This is not to say that there aren’t any excellent series currently gracing cable television. We still have Steven Universe, Star Vs. The Forces of Evil, and not to mention the upcoming series Infinity Train which seems promising. Despite these exciting titles, there’s no denying that animation production is entering a new era—one that prominently consists of recycled ideas.
Instead of receiving original worlds and characters, we are seeing a trend of movie spinoffs and animation reboots—Volton: Legendary Defender, Tangled: Before Ever After, Samurai Jack (Season 5), The Powerpuff Girls 2016, Invader Zim Movie (announced), Young Justice: Outsiders (announced), Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (announced), and so on. Nostalgia is the new black. So naturally, alongside this string of recent/recently-announced reboots, the much-beloved series that is Teen Titans has returned to the small screen—but under the title of Teen Titans GO!
Ever since its initial release back in 2013, Teen Titans GO! has been receiving constant criticism. I’ve yet to witness an animated series match the level of outrage expressed over this title. Fans of the original work are being swept into a wave of mob mentality, and as a result, are channeling their pitchforks and passionate anger towards Teen Titans GO!—anger that has been epidemically spreading through various social media outlets.
Why exactly are people targeting the series?
Everything that was loved about the original Teen Titans series—most notably it’s stories, layered characters facing both internal and external struggles, well-executed plot, and it’s high-quality hand-drawn animation—was stripped during the creation of its successor. Yet, it’s voice actors and many character design elements remained as if implying the cast of Teen Titans GO! are still the same decade-old characters that we know and love, only placed in different scenarios and manifested in a different art style.
This cannot be further from the truth as, along with everything that was taken away, the characterizations of the five protagonists are completely different between series. This is where anger over the show originates. Fans of the original work are trapped in the mindset of: How dare they tell us that the underwhelming successor of a storytelling piece is even remotely similar to its phenomenal original?
Now, before I continue, I’ve seen a few episodes of Teen Titans GO! and although it’s nearly impossible to compare it’s narrative quality to the original, as a standalone series it’s quite humorous. The main issue that fans have with the show is the fact that it was conceived and pitched as a reboot to the original, making the comparison between the two inevitable.
Allow me to say that, as a fan of the original series; as someone who has seen the series in its entirety three times; and as someone who currently has convention-purchased Teen Titans fan art pinned on her bulletin board as she is typing this very post; I strongly believe that Teen Titans GO! is receiving much more hate than it deserves.
Yes its predecessor is amazing, there’s no denying that the series was, and still is, fantastic. And no, Teen Titans GO! doesn’t do the original series justice; however, constantly bashing on a series that has been airing for five years—a series that will hit a count of 90 half-hour episodes by the end of next month with no indication of slowing down—is very redundant.
I like to think of the Teen Titans GO! rampage as synonymous to the way in which the Kardashians are treated. People find joy in vocalizing their disdain towards both entities. They love to hate Teen Titans GO! and it’s starting to feel as if cartoon fanatics are maltreating it for the sole purpose of maltreatment itself. The negative hype surrounding Teen Titans GO! has led cartoon enthusiasts into a never-ending cycle of vocalized distaste that just feeds fire to long-scorching flames.
Keep in mind that this post is not written to completely defend the series. I too believe that it does more to discredit the classic animated series and iconic comic book franchise than the opposite. However as mentioned earlier, as a standalone piece it’s your typical child-targetted cartoon.
Additionally to reiterate, it has been five years since the series’ release and seven years since its conception. Teen Titans GO! isn’t going anywhere, especially considering its animation is relatively inexpensive to create, its merchandise is supposedly hitting solid sales figures, and it’s one of Cartoon Network’s most-viewed television programs. From a business perspective, it makes below-zero financial sense to give the series the boot. And from a marketing perspective, allowing fans to dive into a never-ending cycle of vocalized hate keeps the series at the forefront of many animation-centered conversations. Controversy sells because powerful reactions spread far and wide. Or as the tired, yet relevant, saying goes: “no press is bad press”—yet another Kardashian parallel to bee drawn.
Now, I obviously have no clue as to what goes on behind the scenes at Cartoon Network. I’m not a corporate professional. I am a Canadian arts student who avidly watches animated series targeted at people half my age. So I can most definitely be wrong about my controversy sells conspiracy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, like the Kardashians, Teen Titans GO! is here to stay, so we might as well place a halt on the negativity towards it.
Let’s put down our pitchforks and get back to raving about all of the amazing series that are out there. And let’s also remember that the only reason why people feel so betrayed by the series is the fact that its predecessor left such a powerful impact on us all. Teen Titans (2003) is a fantastic series, and one that we all clearly appreciate so very much.