Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends: Aired August 2004
There was no shortage of kids my age talking about and watching Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. It’s a show that captivated me with its premise; that all abandoned imaginary friends stayed at a Foster Home, and executed on everything that its world had to offer. Everything about the world of the show clicked: the kazoo-and-piano frenzy of a soundtrack, the flatly shaded art style, and the aesthetic of the Foster Home itself.
Most importantly the show had good characters and everybody had their favorite: Bloo, Wilt, Eduardo, Coco, Mac, Frankie, Madame Foster, Dutchess, Herriman… and if you were really unfortunate you knew somebody who liked Cheese. My favorite characters were Coco and Frankie (voiced by Grey DeLisle) and they both really shine in Season 1, Episode 4: “Store Wars.” It opens with Frankie Foster struggling to organize a surprise party for her grandmother Madame Foster. Like Yumi before her, Frankie embodied this no funny-business attitude that I identified with when I was 11. She’s an overworked teenager/young adult in a house full of chaos and imaginary nonsense – and the way she coped with that was pretty hilarious.
Frankie has to go to the Mall to pick up last minute party supplies, and of course Bloo complicates things by inviting the gang along to go shopping too. Everybody has money for gifts, except for Coco, the odd, deranged, 1/3 Bird, 1/3 Palm, 1/3 Airplane imaginary friend who’s kind of the Charlie Kelly of the group. The Mall is a great setting for the episode: an elevator-musak rendition of the theme-song loops in the background, and the shops lightly parody those found in your typical mall. Victoria’s Secret becomes “Victorian Indiscretions,” and all the characters react differently to the lingerie on display (Mac and Frankie both smile but for different reasons I presume).
Frankie finds herself falling asleep on a massage chair at Pointier Image, during which time Coco gets hired at the Mall’s foot court. With the group separated during her nap, Frankie spends the rest of the episode trying to reign in the chaos. Meanwhile Coco climbs up the Mall-job ladder, running the Information Booth in once scene and then becoming a Mall-cop just minutes later. I really like “Store Wars” as a representative episode of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. It balances the chaos created by imaginary friends perfectly with the stress and craziness that the human characters experience while trying to control that chaos. The episode ends with Coco giving Madame Foster an expensive gift with the money she earned by working at the Mall, though Frankie gets no such happy ending.
I’ll be the first to say that Foster’s can be a bit annoying now that I’m ten years older, but it occupied a special place in my heart back then, and it still does. The premise is just so darn heart-warming that I’ll put up with a little extra kinetic energy just to live in that world for 22 minutes at a time.