For Our Consideration: 20 years ago today, Hey Arnold! ushered Nickelodeon into primetime

Nickelodeon used to undergo a transformation when the clock struck eight on weekday nights. As the sun went down and primetime kicked off, the kidvid haven populated by Rugrats, Salute Your Shorts, and Double Dare turned into a place kitschy Nick At Nite promos dubbed “TV Land.” But in April of 1996, TV Land became its own destination on the cable box, its Nick At Nite-curated lineup of vintage programming and “Retromercials” freeing up a little more space on the Nickelodeon schedule. And so it was, on Monday, October 7, 1996, that “the first kids’ network” graduated to the adults’ table, a milestone cinched by two best friends dressed like a strawberry and a banana and a schoolyard tyrant with a giant pink bow in her hair.

The first episode of Hey Arnold!—composed of the segments “Downtown As Fruits” and “Eugene’s Bike”—was the opening salvo in a …

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