Though in the tradition of the early-90s fad of “quirky” representations of small town America (stemming from seminal series like Northern Exposure and Twin Peaks), in the creation of every-town Wellsville, we have a place like no other. A children's show that was too smart for TV.
Looking back on these episodes from my youth, I can appreciate the impact it had on my imagination. I realize my inclinations for surrealism, absurdist and black humor, and a curiosity for the subversive beneath the benign began with Pete and Pete.
The resonance stems from the show's truthful approach to childhood; it's not overtly nostalgic like The Wonder Years, nor alternately cynical like Solondz' Welcome to the Dollhouse, or just misdirectedly heartless like the recent Wellsville-imitator and crapfest, Napolean Dynamite. Instead, it is simply whimsical and earnest. Pete and Pete’s depiction of childhood is trumped only by Lynda Barry’s Marlys comic strips in terms of being accurate, funny and downright revelatory. The recurring "International Adult Conspiracy" totally evinced my childhood feelings of that dichotomy between grownups and kids; their ways were incomprehensibly foreign and superfluous, and vice versa. And Artie: The Strongest Man in the World is what every young viewer expects himself to grow up into. I'm sure the program had a small hand in forever subverting these viewers' opinions on the modern, business-focused world.
Not to mention it's hilarious and had the coolest rock and roll and celebrity guest stars including: Iggy Pop(!), Adam West, Micheal Stipe of REM, Marshall Crenshaw(!), Debbie Harry of Blondie, Steve Buscemei (my favorite actor, even though I don't have a favorite actor) and even Hunter S. Thompson. And it was all rounded out by a catchy, post-grunge alternative soundtrack of that newly-nostalgic 1990s zeitgeist.