Recently, the author of this column reconnected with the TV series “Goosebumps”. When your sitting in bed sick, as this author has been for the last few days, binging a TV series becomes appealing.While “Goosebumps” is a kids’ show than ran from 1995-1997, it still holds up well. As a kid, I found the show, and the books the episodes were based on, brought me much happiness. As an adult in 2015, I’m surprised how those feelings still remain twenty years later.
I have always been a fan of the horror genre. When the TV version of “Goosebumps” came around, I had not been exposed to the kind of graphic, torture porn that hits theaters. I am very glad for that, because I don’t think I would have ever watched “Goosebumps” if I thought that was what horror was. This was also well before “American Horror Story” and the graphic sex and violence it brings to TV screens one season a year. “Goosebumps” is closer to “The Twilight Zone.” While it does have horror, often humorous, there are other episodes that are closer to science fiction or fantasy.
The horror comedy element of “Goosebumps” makes it only slightly scary but in a fun way. There were certain episodes, ones with dramatic twists, that made it feel closer to “The Twilight Zone.” These episodes seemed to make the series take on a universe of its own, with its own rules and unusual outcomes. “Welcome To Camp Nightmare Part 1” and “Welcome to Camp Nightmare Part 2” were good examples of that. I can honestly say that I had no idea where those episodes were going. That’s a good thing. The show is for kids, but it’s not for stupid kids who want to watch something predictable. I’m not even entirely sure those two episodes fell into one genre.
A couple of episodes where I didn’t consider there to be any kind of horror element were “My Hairiest Adventure” and “Be Careful What You Wish For.” The first one is about a boy who starts growing unusual body hair, and the other one is about a bullied girl who is offered the chance to have three wishes granted. The wishes all come true in unexpectedly unfortunate ways—except for one bonus wish that she gets at the end. I consider “My Hairiest Adventure” to be closer to science fiction, and “Be Careful What You Wish For” is more like a modern fairy tale.
“Goosebumps” is listed on Netflix as being fit for kids, but it’s not clear exactly how old. For instance, under “Genres” it’s listed as Kids’ TV for ages 11 to 12, Kids’ TV for ages 8 to 10, and simply Kids’ TV. Under “Ratings”, it’s listed as TV-Y7. The “Common Sense Media Rating” listing is Pause for kids 9 & under. It’s up to parents to decide when their kid is old enough for Goosebumps. because there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on this.
However, I will add this. Part of the Common Sense Media Rating reads: “The unpredictability of the storylines, the young characters’ frequent anti-social behavior, and the hazy line between fantasy and reality make this show iffy for kids.” As someone who grew up with this show, I honestly believe that this assessment looks to be written by a helicopter parents.