My Life As A Teenage Robot

My Life as a Teenage Robot follows the heroic misadventures of Robotic Response Unit XJ-9, better known to her friends by her preferred name, Jenny Wakeman. Jenny was created by her mad-scientist mother, Dr. Nora Wakeman, to protect the planet Earth. But, having been designed to possess the instincts and attitudes of a teenager, Jenny often ignores her “boring” superhero duties to pursue activities that she finds more exciting, like attending high school and “hanging out.” Her dereliction of duty often allows minor disturbances to spiral into global threats. Luckily, Jenny is equipped to handle almost any disaster, and always ends up saving the world, even if it’s usually at the last possible moment.

Along with Jenny on her many escapades are her best friend, teenager Brad Carbuckle, his goofball little brother, Tuck, and comic book collector and engineering prodigy Sheldon Lee, whose hopeless crush on Jenny often interferes with their relationship (which Jenny wants to keep strictly in the “friend zone”).

Being the planet’s protector brings Jenny into conflict with a variety of evildoers. Among the most powerful are Vexus, leader of a robotic civilization known as the Cluster, who aims to enslave the human race, and a group known as the Space Bikers, who just like to visit Earth on weekends and mess stuff up. But the enemies who really intimidate Jenny are Brit and Tiff, the mean girls who control the social scene at her high school and threaten what Jenny covets most — popularity among her fellow teenagers.

The series My Life as a Teenage Robot started its life as a seven-minute short titled, “My Neighbor was a Teenage Robot.” This original short followed the same plot as the first segment of the series in which brothers Brad and Tuck discover that there is a teenaged robot living next door. Although the story was basically the same, the visual design of the pilot was very different from that of the show that followed three years later. The pilot was heavily influenced by the look of contemporary Japanese anime, while the series drew inspiration from a wider array of sources. The character design took its cues both from 1930’s “rubber hose” cartoons and from the more stylized look of 1950’s animation. Commercial poster art, sci-fi pulp magazine cover art, and industrial design from the thirties were combined to create the series’ “Future Deco” art style.

The show’s title cards are a good place to start exploring the distinctive style of the show.

You can also just watch the show itself! My Life as a Teenage Robot originally ran for three seasons on Nickelodeon, and can currently be seen on Amazon, iTunes, and Paramount +

Rob was privileged to work alongside a talented, hardworking, and just plain fun crew of artists and production staff. He was particularly proud when both Seonna Hong and Bryan Arnett won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation (in 2004 and 2006, respectively) for their work on MLaaTR.

You can get a sense of what it was like to work on Teenage Robot with a trip back in time via The Teenage Roblog. The crew posted these behind-the-scenes glimpses into the show’s production while they were creating it.

Please note that fans of the show took over the blog site after the show ended.

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