Opinion: Can Big Nate Make Nickelodeon Relevant Again?

Beloved children’s novel, “Big Nate,” makes its return as an animated series.


Big Nate on Nickelodeon & Paramount+

Johnny Chirayil, Social Media Editor

Our favorite sixth-grade rabble-rouser has finally returned as a full-on animated series, now available to watch on Nickelodeon and Paramount+!

As a fan of Big Nate, I’ve been longing for a movie or an animated show. The show debuted on Feb. 17, and it seems to be performing well, having 80% of Google users liking the show and scoring an 8.7/10 on IMDb. While I did enjoy the show, the plot takes some unexpected and awkward turns.

Big Nate has a similar plot to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Just an average kid walking through their way in middle school, while dealing with problems with a certain group of friends and getting in trouble with the teachers. Although, the show still manages to reference the events that take place in the books: Nate still doodles his cartoons during class, pulls pranks on his teachers, and goes to detention every now and then. The best part, all the characters (Nate’s friends and teachers) are still themselves.

However, the TV show tackled some concepts that I wasn’t expecting. Big Nate is known for having a very realistic tone throughout the plot (since the setting often takes place in a school) of each book and the show sometimes goes a bit far from having a realistic setting. The show is very dissimilar to how the books tell their stories.

Most movies, based on their books, tend to have a plot that closely resembles the stories from the books or comics. If you’ve seen “The Peanuts Movie” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”(2021), you’ll know what I mean. These films don’t add anything extravagant or anything that feels out of place from their original concepts. What I believe is that since Big Nate is going to be a long-running animated series, the writers and creators need to come up with new ideas to keep their show going.

Moreover, the show is being aired on Nickelodeon. So, the writers will place some content that the audience would normally expect from a Nickelodeon cartoon. However, I have no problem with the idea of having new concepts for the show since it wants to attract young kids. A few episodes tend to have action scenes, such as having a robot chasing kids in a school. It’s not a bad thing since it’s still a kids cartoon, but this is not usual for a Big Nate plot.

I know a lot of people aren’t a fan of the voice casting options, since they are having adults voice middle school-aged kids. The voices sound a little deep for a bunch of sixth-graders and Randy’s voice is horrendous. It would definitely be better if they had younger kids voicing the cast because it could better set the tone of having a typical middle school setting, and the characters don’t sound too comedic. Additionally, some fans didn’t like the idea of giving the characters more-detailed eyes, rather than having the dotted eyes from the books. I understand that it can make the character’s emotions more expressive; yet, if “The Peanuts Movie” was able to handle that situation, why can’t Big Nate?

Nickelodeon had a lot of animated shows that performed poorly, mostly due to bland humor and overly-excessive fart jokes. Big Nate, however, is ready to take things to the next level. While the show still contains some fart jokes (and some suggestive content), the humor is still decent. In fact, most of the jokes the writers come up with are pretty clever; such as Dee Dee telling Nate to “take out the principal” while he sets up a schemous plan inside his school and thought Dee Dee meant they should take out their school principal.

As much as the show has the ambition to attract a young audience, it still wants to attract long-time fans of the Big Nate books and comics. The best way they did it was by adding a comic strip, drawn by Big Nate’s author, Lincoln Peirce, at the end credits of each episode representing the plot. The show, overall, still managed to reference a lot of minor and major details used in the books and comics. They got Nate’s character right, even if he acts a bit more wild in the show. The writers know he doesn’t like being in school; social studies is not his best subject; he is always getting a horrible school photo, and, most iconically, he goes to detention constantly.

It’s good to see how much the show tries to be appealing for both young kids and old fans of the comics, and I think Nickelodeon should keep the show going, just as long they make sure everyone is still in their typical character, and they aren’t being excessive with the jokes.