Day 48, No. 48. Sumo

ClarenceHAIRCUT 100: Day 48, No. 48. Following on from Charlie Brown t’other day… Ryan ‘Sumo’ Sumozski in Cartoon Network’s Clarence: best friend to Clarence and Jeff, arch nemesis of Josh the busboy, and crazy trailer park rat boy. Clarence was created by Skyler Page (who previously worked on Adventure Time), and Sumo is presently voiced by Tom Kenny (the man behind Spongebob Squarepants), who plays it like a young Beavis. Sumo is as fearless as he is feral. At school we all had one friend like this. He is fiercely loyal to his buddies, and always ready for action. When problems arise, his solutions are unorthodox – some might say extreme, violent and crude – but surprisingly effective, if catastrophically messy, wet, crispy, or on fire… Sumo’s family is depicted as huge, rough, and living on the breadline, with parents that would not look out of place in My Name Is Earl or a novel by Stephen King. He originally had long brassy hair, but got Clarence to shave it off in the pilot episode; this is now his signature look. In the show, Sumo is one of the key characters, forming a triumvirate with the fastidious Jeff and the surreal Clarence. This is a charming, bitter-sweet little cartoon, which depicts blue-collar suburban life with honesty and sensitivity, in the tradition of The Katzenjammer Kids and the Little Rascals, updated for X-Box, zero-hour contracts and global warming. Along with The Loud House on Nickelodeon, Clarence also has a central character who has married gay parents, representing a trailblazing social consciousness that puts a lot of mainstream TV to shame. Like Craig Bartlett’s Hey Arnold! in the 90s, Clarence is a show that reminds you what it’s like to be a kid. ‘You wanna try my blood burger?!’

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