9) The "Doug & Patti Sittin' in a Tree" episode of Nickelodeon's Doug, written by Matt Steinglass and directed by Ken Kimmelman
Between the years 1991 and 1994 Nickelodeon's Doug was the single greatest cartoon on television, and yes, I am prepared to stand by the statement. It had a cast of characters to rival that of The Simpsons and took place in an imaginary town called Bluffington with as clear a sense of its own geography and almost as many familiar locations as that other show's Springfield, and at the center of it all was an eleven year-old protagonist who was far more sympathetic to preadolescent audiences than his more famous counter-Bart could ever be.
His name was Doug Yancey Funnie. He kept a journal, played the banjo, had a slew of Hollywood-inspired alter egos, an anthropomorphic dog named Porkchop, and most importantly a crush on the spunky, sporty, raspy-voiced Patti Mayonnaise. Over the course of four seasons we watched him struggle to understand these new and sometimes frightening feelings, as well as try and fail countless times to find a way to express them to Patti.
Then this happened:
"You know, your grass is really...springy!"
"Yeah, they water it...a lot."
Until now I hadn't seen that episode for twelve years, and yet I could still have recited those two lines for you verbatim. That's the impression it made on me. It just does so many things right! Capturing that inexplicable feeling of shame you felt as a kid at the idea that your parents might suspect you were interested in the opposite sex, the reluctance even to admit it to yourself because, in some small way you couldn't quite put your finger on, it meant the end of your childhood, which is a kind of loss, the absolute bafflement you felt in the face of a whole new world with its own indecipherable set of rules and rituals, not knowing where to turn for help in deciphering them, afraid to ask, afraid of being laughed at, afraid that you would never understand...
But most of all what it captures perfectly is the feeling of looking into the face of someone you love, or at least to whom you are intensely attracted, having every reason in the world to believe that they feel the same way, knowing all that separates you from the consummation of that mutual attraction is for one of you to take the leap, to make the first move, to speak the unspoken, and still being unable to bring yourself to speak it, because it's just too damn big, because it means the end of everything you know and the beginning of everything that scares you, because it means there will be no hiding anymore, no going back, because it means that everything is going to change forever...
...so instead you comment on the grass, or offer them a gummy bunny.