Doug's Real Life

Author: Unknown
Year: Unknown

Everyone remembers the show Doug, one of the original three Nicktoons. It seemed like a pretty normal show about the challenges a young boy faced in his daily life, but always gave off a weird kind of feeling. Compared to other kid shows, Doug seemed more negative and anxiety-centered. Doug was always worried about something, and in most episodes he'd have fantasies of everyone he knew cruelly laughing at him due to some problem he faced that week. He always came through in the end, though, and every episode ended with him writing in his journal about how he had overcome his blown out of proportion problem.

In 2005, I started having dreams about the show for no apparent reason. I can't remember the details, but they made me want to see the show again. The show hadn't even been aired in reruns for years at that point, so I couldn't think of any way to see it again. To my surprise, it came back for a week in the fall of 2005, airing at 6AM on weekdays. I watched it all five days. The first four episodes I remembered, but they didn't sync up perfectly with my memories. It had been a while, so I chalked it up to flaws in how I remembered them. The Friday episode, however, was something I'm positive I'd never seen before in my life. It started with the normal intro with the line drawings, but the characters never appeared. The lines continued as normal and reacted as if the characters were there. When the show began, it showed Doug in a dark room, writing in his journal. He wasn't narrating like he usually did. He silently wrote for about a minute, then the screen faded out and the usual episode title screen appeared without a skit. There was just the giant Doug font forming the title "Doug's Real Life."

The episode opened with Doug eating breakfast. He was giving a voice-over about how there was a big test he hadn't studied for. His family was having a normal conversation in the background. The screen suddenly started flashing at some point. They seemed to be showing something, but didn't last long enough for my brain to process what they were showing. Doug left his house and started walking to school. He had one of his fantasies about his life being ruined. Mrs. Wingo announced that Doug had flunked the test and the entire class started laughing at him. Their heads were coming off their bodies and swirling around Doug. This went on for longer than most of the fantasy sequences in the show, and the laughter sounded crueler than usual.

When Doug got to school, the screen started flashing again. This time, the screen stayed on the new image...or, rather, the new animation style. The colors were darker, and many objects had changed color. It resembled a film negative. Doug was walking through a school full of kids that I don't think had ever been on the show before, and no one payed any attention to him. After he got to his desk, the animation went back to normal and the scene chagned to after school. Doug was walking hom, worrying to himself about the test. When he reached his house, Pork Chop greeted him. Doug started talking to him when the screen flashed again. Pork Chop turned into a hunk of rotting meat and Doug's house became decrepit.

Doug walked into his house and acted like he was talking to someone, but the room was deserted. After interacting with invisible people for a while, he sat down at an empty table. The screen flashed again and Doug's family was there with him, eating dinner. The phone rang and Doug's mom answered it. Doug had a fantasy of his parents yelling at him for failing the test. In it, they grew gigantic and their faces became twisted and dark red. The screen flashed back to the empty house. Doug was crying and apologizing, but there was no one else in the room. He went up to his bedroom, completely empty except for a book and a pencil. He picked up the book and started writing, narrating this time.

"I can't tell which one is real."