When talking about Saturday morning cartoons in the 80s, favorites like He-man, Transformers, and GI Joe come to mind. But there was a whole other line of classic cartoons that guys watched, even if they didn’t admit it at the time.
I am not being sexist, but some cartoons were targeting boys and some girls. But as I am sure some girls loved the Transformers and He-man, equally, guys were secretly watching (and enjoying) cartoons, they probably were not talking about in the schoolyard.
So whether you were watching them because you had a little sister, there was nothing else on, or you were a die-hard fan, these are
80s Cartoons For Girls, That Boys Secretly Watched
First introduced in 1985, She-Ra had 96 episodes, one special, and a modern She-Ra reboot on Netflix. She-Ra is a fictional superheroine that gained attention not just among girls but as a favorite among boys as well.
It is a spin-off of the popular show, He-Man and The Masters of the Universe.
According to the story, Hordak stole Adora from the planer Eternia when she was still a baby. Growing up under the influence of Hordak, Adora never knew her family. In fact, she even fought against them as a member of the Evil Horde.
Once she was free of Hordak’s clutches, she came to know about her brother He-Man, and her true powers were revealed. Together they fought evil and she took up the title of She-Ra, Princess of Power.
She-Ra: Princess of Power, had a prominently female cast. However, this did not stop a large number of male viewership. She was not just He-Man’s sister, she was just as powerful and fought villains that were just as evil.
This cross-over definitely worked. I had just as many She-Ra action figures as I did He-Man ones.
In 1981, artist Elena Kucharik painted multi-colored bears for greeting cards. Then from 1985 – 1988, the television series of the characters came about under the name Care Bears.
The Care Bears each had different colors and symbol representations that show their personality. The premise of the series had the bears spreading love and understanding to the world.
The creators quickly realized they did not have to stick to bears and introduced the “Care Bear Cousins”, featuring everyone’s favorite, Lionheart, along with other animals such as a dog, elephant, lamb, and more.
While Care Bears may not have been directly targeting girls alone, they were cute, soft, and cuddly. It was the polar opposite of shows like GI Joe and the Transformers. However, most boys loved the characters all the same.
The popularity also resulted in three feature films at the time:
- The Care Bears Movie (1985)
- Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation (1986)
- The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland (1987)
And there have been several successful reboots and movies since then.
My Little Pony
It had over 63 episodes and eight related specials. It was developed by one of America’s top toy companies, Hasbro. It is My Little Pony.
Taking a cue from its original, My Pretty Pony in 1981, the company launched My Little Pony and It became a hugely popular franchise among young girls during the 1980s.
The story takes place in a magical Ponyland. The residents are comprised of numerous types of magical creatures. The Paradise Estate is home to the peace-loving little ponies.
Throughout the series, the ponies faced several threats such as the witch, the odd ogre, and the trolls who are all trying to enslave or destroy them.
Many people consider it a girl’s domain, given its theme of pretty colorful ponies prancing around. However, an ever-growing group, “Bronies,” would disagree with such a concept.
“Bronies” is an amalgamation of “bro” and “pony”, and it is exactly what it sounds like.
Its popular fan convention BroNYCon occurs every few months in New York City. In its first year, the number of attendees increased from a mere 100 to a massive 4000+. In the following years, the convention also featured various celebrity guests.
In 1984 Rainbow Brite and her magical horse Starlight began their quest to return color to a world of gray. While the Care Bears were created by American Greetings, Rainbow Brite was the creation of their direct competitor, Hallmark.
Although the show is a bit “kiddy”, the villains in Rainbow Land are numerous and each episode had Rainbow Brite and her team of Color Kids fighting against various forces of darkness.
Rainbow Brite had one human character, an 11-year-old boy named Brian. This was clearly an attempt to bring in the male audience, and it worked. Now every little boy watching the show had someone to relate to.
As popular as it was, Rainbow Brite only lasted 13 episodes. While there were some specials and a reboot, it is surprising that they did not try harder to cash in on her success
Jem is excitement, Ooh, Jem!
When people talk about the best opening songs of 80s cartoons, this one does not come up very often, but it should. I mean the show is literally about a singer so the theme song had to be good right.
Jem was the lead singer of a group, The Holograms. The show was about… err nothing really, at least nothing of importance that I can recall. I used to watch this quite often and all I can remember was them just hanging around being famous and stuff.
Jem was the alter ego Jerrica Benton who would use her holographic computer, Synergy to project the Jem image onto her when needed. Only her band knew her true identity. Jerrica was the original Hanna Montanna.
I kid about the lack of plot and it’s true that the plot was weak. The show was propped up by countless music numbers, and well-produced ones at that. Jem was like MTV for kids and it’s easy to see how that could be successful with both girls and boys in the mid-80s.