The launch of Disney+ in Nov. 2019 gave rise to original content such as the ultra-meta “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and the Kristen Bell-hosted reality show, “Encore!” At the platform’s disposal is the abundance of licenced content that Disney has racked up over the years.
One of the ways streaming services attempt to lure you in is not just with exclusive flashy original series but also through content that has been around for decades. While Disney+ boasts their Marvel library and the animated classic “The Simpsons,” my mind has been wrapped around the agelessness and rewatchability that surrounds another animated show —“Phineas and Ferb” — a children’s show about the impossible adventures of two kids’ summer vacation.
Originally airing between 2007 and 2015, “Phineas and Ferb” was an animated show intended for kids, but came with an adult sensibility that also welcomed older viewers. The humor is not just slapstick but surprisingly clever, with recurring gags that have lasted since the first episode of the show. Like the fact that Ferb never talks, but when he does, it’s always an insightful sentence in a British accent. Or when someone asks Phineas “Aren’t you a little young to be doing [insert activity]?” and he replies: “Yes. Yes I am,” then continues to build whatever it was that he’s too young to be doing.
Every single episode boats sarcasm, weird scenes with floating baby heads and fantastic subplots involving Phineas and Ferb’s older sister, Candance, in her attempt to “bust” her siblings. Even as she tries to report them, Candace is aware of how the crazy thing her brothers are doing will be over as soon as she brings her mom to the backyard. She’s aware of the unwritten canonical rule that Phineas and Ferb will always get off the hook. We can relate to her frustration when her mom tells her to cool it. Though somewhat of an antagonist, even Candace was able to have dimension — her obsession with her boyfriend Jeremy transforms her from cold-hearted to a bundle of joy, perfectly capturing how all of us once acted around an early-teenage crush.
Then there’s the B-plot that surrounds their pet platypus, Perry, who doubles as the secret Agent P who fights the evil plots of Dr. Doofensmirtz, who encapsulates what it means to be an adult. He’s the villain who tries to take over the world — in this instance just the Tri-state area — but is always stopped by the good guys.
Additionally, every episode features a catchy song that is never more than 90 seconds. I’m not just talking about “Gitchy Gitchy Goo” but the actual gems like “You Snuck Your Way Right Into My Heart” and “S.I.M.P” and “There’s A Platypus Controlling Me.” Not to mention the fact that everyone from my generation knows the plastic tip at the end of the shoelace is called an aglet because Phineas and Ferb wrote a song about it.
The optimism and curiosity that surrounded Phineas and Ferb’s daily projects and Dr. Doofensmirtz’s failed “-inators” are enough to keep us endlessly entertained despite the inevitable same result. Phineas’s line “I know what we’re going to do today!” reflects the inspiration, spirit and joy that drives the entire show. There is truly no other show like it, which at least partly explains why people still watch it today. The title sequence told us to “stick with us cause Phineas and Ferb are gonna do it all,” and they did just about everything they could.