The truth about Spongebob Squarepantsis this: It initially struggled to get ratings in its first season, became popular via incessant merchandising, became a hit in its second season, it went on to become a cultural phenomenon (and an occasional symbol for gay pride), and then it sold a shitload of merchandise.

But that's not to take away from the excellence of the show itself. Although the plots were never too complicated, the show was filled with great characters (Patrick!) and a wonderful animation style which would take plenty liberties and morph Spongebob into all types of creative shapes.