In 1991 The Beets, a fictional animated music group from Liverpool, England made their debut as Doug Funnie’s favorite band on the Nikelodeon cartoon series, “Doug”. Since then, the band has broken up and the series has been cancelled, but the animated ensemble’s true-to-child-life lyricism remains in the memories of the children of 90s, who wouldn’t come to appreciate the band’s clever contribution to the show, and Doug’s characterization, until years later.
The Beets. An animated, four-piece, pastiche rock band devised as a musical and visual homage to the golden age of rock. With a name that riffs off The Beatles and a sound that is akin to The Ramones, it’s no surprise that the creator of “Doug”, Jim Jinkins, is a fan of the rock ‘n roll genre. Jinkin recalls, “I always had music on. Always. Growing up, whenever I could, I was listening to rock and roll and loved The Beatles, The Who.”
While The Beets only made a handful of appearances, they were often referenced throughout the Doug series. Just as The Beatles and The Who helped define Jinkins’ adolescent period in life, Jinkin’s created a world wherein The Beets’ do the same for Doug Funnie, giving this awkward, insecure and, in hindsight, probably depressed 11-year-old boy a much needed outlet. “I was a kid during the British Invasion,” Jinkins continues, “so again, right place and right time as a kid in terms of music.”
This is no different from how the music the rest of us listened to during our own adolescences served as pieces to the backdrops of our memories. At that age, we are always in the “right place” and “right time” as far as musical interests go because the popular music of that time often reflects the attitudes of its respective youth.
We form parts of our identities through the music we immerse ourselves in at every stage of our lives. At Doug’s age, when we first start to engage in introspection and begin to wonder more critically about life, we ask questions that, at times, seem only to be answered or even addressed, through popular entertainment. Casting The Beets as Doug’s favorite band serves as a device for Doug’s character development, as the band’s songs express the type of preoccupations involved in being Doug Funnie.
The band’s discography was short (only 3 songs) but their humorous tracks comprised of juvenile anecdotes, dramatized by the alternative intensity of the music, were able to express the angsts attributed to adolescence. In “Killer Tofu” The Beets sing about the struggles of eating healthier foods outside of the accustomed “scuzzy” fast food or sugary cereal. Their second song, “I Need Mo’ Allowance” expressed the grievances related to being overworked and underappreciated, and “ Shout Your Lungs Out” expressed the need for self- expression and energy outlets.
The most significant contribution of The Beets to Doug is that their songs helped to underscore the most overarching theme in the show: coming of age, as well as the pressures and anxieties that come with it. Jinkins revealed that this was intentional, stating, “The music was really part of the storyteller…the music was extremely important to me.” But beyond that, let’s take a look-back and remember why else The Beets are the best-animated TV band of all time
Their fans were called “Beetniks” on the show. The group had a green girl who rocked a shaved head and played what looked like a keyboard-sousaphone hybrid.