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Teen Titans Go! is an animated series, a comedic spin-off of the original Teen Titans, and it’s one of the best👏 reboots👏 ever👏 in my opinion.

Let me explain.

Teen Titans Go! features the same characters as the original series, including Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and Cyborg, but it has a more light-hearted and comedic tone.

The show focuses on the Titans’ daily lives and their silly, often absurd adventures.

The stories they tell revolve around the stuff that would never make it into a genre-abiding show like Teen Titans, such as doing the pee-pee dance while standing in line for the bathroom, getting your driver’s license and not realising your instructor is the villain you’re chasing, arguing over which are better; burgers or burritos, or professing your love for waffles by speaking using only one word: waffles.

Teen Titans Go! has been a hit with younger audiences, receiving praise for its humour and colourful animation style, but has gotten a lot of criticism from original Teen Titans fans who prefer the original show, with its more serious tone and action-packed narrative.

The purists argue that TTG deviates too much from the original source material (and sometimes even mocks it).

Some of the common criticisms of the show include:

  1. Lack of serious storylines: Unlike the original series, which had more serious and dramatic storylines, Teen Titans Go! focuses more on humour and light-hearted adventures. Some fans feel that this makes the show less engaging and less interesting.
  2. Simplified animation style: The animation style is much more simplified and cartoony compared to the original series, which had a more detailed and realistic look. Some fans feel that this takes away from the show’s visual appeal.
  3. Changes to the characters: The personalities and characterisations of the Titans have been changed in Teen Titans Go! to fit the show’s more comedic tone.
    • Robin is portrayed as more neurotic and insecure than his original counterpart. He is obsessed with being a good leader and often goes to extreme lengths to prove himself, such as creating elaborate plans or refusing to admit his mistakes. He also has a huge crush on Starfire, which is often played up for comedic effect.
    • While Starfire’s personality is largely similar between the two series, in Teen Titans Go! she is portrayed as more childlike and naive. She often misunderstands Earth customs and language, leading to comedic misunderstandings. She is also much more expressive in her emotions, frequently bursting into tears or exclaiming her excitement.
    • Raven is portrayed as more deadpan and sarcastic than her original counterpart. She is often unimpressed with the antics of her teammates and frequently delivers biting remarks. She also has a strong love of all things dark and spooky, which is often played up for comedic effect.
    • Cyborg is portrayed as more laid-back and easygoing than his original counterpart. He is often seen tinkering with technology and gadgets, and frequently uses technology to solve problems. He is also obsessed with food, particularly burgers, and can be seen eating almost constantly.
    • Beast Boy is portrayed as more childlike and immature than his original counterpart. He is often seen goofing around and making jokes, and frequently transforms into animals for comedic effect. He also has a strong love of video games and often uses his animal powers to cheat at them.

Teen Titans Go! features references and callbacks to the original series.

This shows that the creators are well aware of the fanbase for the original series, and have attempted to acknowledge it while still maintaining their own creative direction.

One example is the episode “BBRAE,” which explores the relationship between Beast Boy and Raven, a storyline that was a major focus in the original series.

There’s also a constant tease of Robin and Starfire kissing – as Robin openly pines for Starfire – which never materialises in earnest.

TTG also effortlessly addresses criticisms of the show and pokes fun at them.

For example, in one episode titled “The Fourth Wall,” the characters acknowledge that some fans prefer the original Teen Titans series and attempt to create a more serious version of the show.

In the episode, Control Freak tries to win awards and publicity by showing how bad the humour, acting, and animation in Teen Titans Go! is. He threatens to reboot the show if the Titans don’t improve.

The episode starts out with Cyborg getting the Titans pumped up for TV night.

He starts flipping through some boring-looking channels until he gets to one with Control Freak on it.

Robin says to change it, but Control Freak somehow stays on every channel. Raven and Starfire are getting annoyed at his interrupting on TV Night, but Control Freak says he’s got the perfect show to watch.

He turns on Teen Titans GO!, and the Titans realize it’s them on the catchy theme song.

They wonder why they are on a program, but Control Freak points out that they are a show. He tells them how he turned their everyday lives into a show, and now millions of people are watching them.

All five Titans walk up to the fourth wall, and they start calling the viewers creeps for watching their personal business.

Control Freak shows them footage of the original Teen Titans series and reminds them how cool it was. The Titans all admire how cool looking and amazing they were back then.

When they get to the end, the Titans are mad, asking why there was no sixth season and why Control Freak decided to cancel it.

He agrees it was a poor idea, but rebooting Teen Titans GO! won’t be! He demands that the Titans shape up, or they’ll find themselves rebooted into a new show.

This episode is a satire of how people criticize Teen Titans Go! for being inferior to the original series.

Because of this, many viewers dislike this episode and the others like it – “Let’s Get Serious”, “The Return of Slade”, “Wally T”, and “The Chaff” – because they view them as “hater” episodes.

But it’s a long-running gag in TTG that they’re not good enough as a superhero show and need to do better.

I love it because it’s quintessentially teen.

When Robin starts going off about how improving is very important, but he notices Beast Boy has gone off and started performing his “underpants dance” to the fourth wall.

Raven is disgusted at Beast Boy’s twerking and smashes him into the screen with her giant fist, and Robin gets back to business with improving the show.

Beast Boy chimes in that maybe they could keep tooting and telling dooky jokes, but Robin points out that that doesn’t win any awards (but Beast Boy brings up that it does bring in the toilet paper).

Finally they agree that what they need is some smart people, civilized comedy, and everyone starts preparing for turning a new leaf: Starfire puts on elegant gloves, Beast Boy dresses himself with a bow-tie, Cyborg wears a top hat, and Raven manages to raise her eyes, in a fancy way.

The constant criticising that they’re not mature enough, deep enough, responsible enough, and that they’re lazy and too violent, are exactly the kinds of things you spend your life as a teenager hearing.

Nothing you ever do is enough and TTG leans into this, showing that you should just do you, no matter what the haters say.

And I love the show for it.

The show’s relationship with the fourth wall, gives it a self-awareness that few other shows have.

Getting yet another superhero show that goes by the book – introduce the threat/enemy, plan how to fight it, confront the threat, overcome obstacles, final showdown, resolution – wouldn’t have been very interesting.

In fact, that would have been just another season of Teen Titans.

And while Teen Titans was cancelled after 5 seasons, Teen Titans Go! has been going strong for 8 seasons and counting. It has spawned merchandise, comics and spin-offs.

The popularity of TTG, with a broader appeal than its predecessor, has contributed to its longevity.

Animated series are expensive to produce (as the Titans note in one episode of TTG), but Teen Titans Go! is notable for its simplified animation style and reliance on reuse of assets.

This makes it cheaper to produce than more complex animated series, and may have made it easier to justify a longer run.

The show’s lower production costs may have also allowed for more creative freedom and experimentation, which has helped to keep the series fresh and engaging.

Teen Titans Go! is an anthology series, meaning that it can tell a variety of different stories and doesn’t need to follow a strict narrative arc.

This allows for more flexibility in terms of storytelling, and has allowed the creators to explore a wide range of themes and ideas, helping to keep the series from becoming stale or repetitive.

The show’s availability on streaming platforms has also allowed fans to re-watch their favourite episodes and share them with others, which has helped to build a strong and dedicated fanbase for the series.

In Teen Titans Go! the Titans are able to laugh at themselves.

And they will over and over again try (and fail) to rise to a higher level of sophistication – just like teenagers still have a long way to go, and many mistakes to make, before they’re fully-fledged adults.

The energy, focus and sensibilities are so quintessentially teenager that this show makes me feel seen in a way that the original show never could have.

In the show, they’re constantly criticised by other superheroes, who they look up to and aspire to one day be like, yet no matter how hard the Titans try to improve, they can only be themselves (and if that’s not a good message to give to kids, I don’t know what is!).

Another great callback episode is “The Cape”.

Robin and Cyborg spend the episode arguing about capes, and the episode is mostly a dubbed version of “Divide and Conquer” from the original Teen Titans series, with a few clips from other original episodes.

It took the writers and editors months to restructure the original material into a cohesive TTG format, and as such, is reportedly one of the most expensive episodes from season 3.

Sidenote: Another fun meta episode is "A Little Help Please" when the Titans receive a distress call from the show's animators and artists, begging for a break, telling the Titans that they must tone down their actions and avoid big adventures - meaning no lip sync, no walk cycles, no props, no new backgrounds etc.

“The Cape” is one of the most polarising episodes of the series, mostly older fans calling TTG lazy for reusing footage from the original series, and irreverent for mocking the source material.

But if you get off your high horse, it’s genuinely funny, in the vein of Bad Lip Reading.

Teen Titans Go! is one of the best reboots I’ve ever seen.

Because they manage to retain a strong tether to the original show, but bring something completely unique and original that only adds to the original series, rather than competes with it.

Teen Titans Go! explores a variety of themes that resonate with audiences of all ages (we love watching it as a family).

One of the central themes of the show is the importance of friendship.

The Titans demonstrate time and time again that they are stronger together than they are alone. They rely on each other’s unique abilities and work together to overcome challenges that they could not solve individually.

This emphasis on teamwork and collaboration reinforces the value of cultivating strong relationships with others.

The show also encourages self-acceptance and being comfortable with who you are.

The Titans are all different and have their own quirks and imperfections.

Over the course of the series, they learn to appreciate and embrace their own unique qualities. This message is an important one, as it reinforces the idea that everyone has something valuable to offer.

Humour is also a central theme of Teen Titans Go!.

The show uses a variety of comedic techniques, from slapstick to satire, to comment on popular culture and parody superhero tropes – they also manage to avoid punching down when it comes to representation, which I love.

This light-hearted approach to storytelling provides a much-needed break from the serious tone of many other superhero shows and movies.

Responsibility is another theme that is explored in the show.

The Titans frequently find themselves in situations where they must make difficult choices and face the consequences of their actions. This emphasis on responsibility reinforces the idea that everyone has a role to play in making the world a better place.

Finally, Teen Titans Go! emphasises the importance of perseverance and never giving up.

The Titans encounter obstacles and setbacks but continue to work towards their goals and overcome challenges.

The enduring message that success requires hard work, dedication, and resilience is so important for an audience that is only beginning to grasp what patience really looks like.

It’s funny, it tackles big issues and speaks teenager fluently. What’s not to love?

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