Something inexplicable and remarkable happened today. I’m putting it after a break just for the sake of forced drama.
So it’s been pretty much a daily occurrence at my job where I spend all my time on the phone for someone to address me as Miss or Ms. Apparently I have a girl voice on the phone. I never knew. It’s to the point where I rush through my name in my closing line just so they don’t realize their mistake and feel bad, since I’d rather not have that conversation with any more people than necessary. It doesn’t even bother me all that much; I’m not offended or anything. It’s just kind of silly.
But think about it another way, and Homestar Runner is still all around us. It wasn’t the first series to get by on dorky earnestness, on believing that characters who were basically good-hearted and fun to be around could be the basis for a humorous show just as much as those drenched in cynicism and irony. It was pre-dated, notably, by SpongeBob SquarePants and a handful of other late ’90s hits. But Homestar Runner ended up feeling very like the purest possible expression of one corner of the Internet, the one that wanted to just like stuff, instead of always feeling at a remove from it. It codified the pureness of being a little kid and falling in love with your first TV show or movie or book, and it turned that into a series of web shorts that pointed the way forward not just for the legions of web series to follow but also a host of TV shows, from Adventure Time to Bob’s Burgers, from Community to Parks And Recreation.
Did Homestar Runner influence all of those programs? Most likely not, but it tapped into something in the ether and heightened it. It created a goofy little community and daffy, surprisingly lovable characters to populate it, and it didn’t seem to break a sweat. It felt refreshing and new in 2002. That it feels less so in 2013 says less about the series’ staying power and more about how it seemed to realize something so many were thinking, even before they could speak the words that would make it be.