SpongeBob, You're Fired
|"SpongeBob, You're Fired"|
|SpongeBob SquarePants episode|
Episode 11 (189)
Alan Smart (animation and supervising)|
Tom Yasumi (animation)
Marc Ceccarelli (storyboard)
Luke Brookshier (storyboard)
|Original air date||
July 3, 2013 (Greece)|
November 11, 2013 (United States)
|Running time||22 minutes|
"SpongeBob, You're Fired" is a television special of the American animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. It serves as the 11th episode of the ninth season and the 189th overall episode. The animation directors were the supervising director, Alan Smart and Tom Yasumi, and was written by Marc Ceccarelli, Luke Brookshier, and Mr. Lawrence. Ceccarelli and Brookshier also served as storyboard directors. The episode originally aired in Greece on July 3, 2013. In the United States, it aired on Nickelodeon on November 11. In this episode of the series, which follows the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his various friends in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob gets fired from the Krusty Krab after Mr. Krabs discovers he can save a nickel by eliminating him. SpongeBob subsequently decides to apply at other restaurants.
"SpongeBob, You're Fired" was first screened at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International. Prior to broadcast on television, the episode created a level of controversy for its depiction of unemployment. It eventually sparked a political debate when Media Matters for America and Al Sharpton of MSNBC accused both the New York Post and Fox News of using the episode "to slam poor people who use social services". The premiere of "SpongeBob, You're Fired" drew 5.2 million viewers, the biggest audience viewership for a SpongeBob SquarePants episode in two years since "Frozen Face-Off" in July 2011.
SpongeBob is going about his usual day at work at the Krusty Krab. All of a sudden, his employer, Mr. Krabs, fires him from his job as a fry cook. According to Mr. Krabs, he can save a nickel if he cuts SpongeBob's salary completely. SpongeBob offers to work for free, which Mr. Krabs says he considered but learned it would be illegal and that he could lose his vending license. Squidward Tentacles, SpongeBob's apathetic co-worker, asks if he can be fired as well, but Mr. Krabs refuses because Squidward has more seniority. SpongeBob cries in depression all the way home. Squidward, although gleeful over SpongeBob not working at the Krusty Krab anymore, asks Mr. Krabs who will be the new fry cook. His boss informs him that, to save money, he will take over the kitchen, much to Squidward's dismay.
At home, SpongeBob, still distraught, explains the situation to his best friend and neighbor Patrick. Patrick, however, tells him that being unemployed is "the best gig I know" and promises to return in the morning to introduce SpongeBob to "the unemployed lifestyle." The next morning, the two friends meet up and start SpongeBob's first day of "glorious unemployment," or as Patrick likes to call it, "Fun Employment." Patrick shows SpongeBob the following activities: 1.) Going to Squidward's garden and getting him to throw vegetables at them after ruining some of his flowers, 2.) Taking a "siesta" and 3.) Having a free lunch with friends at Sandy Cheeks' tree dome. Sandy, who is carrying out an experiment in nutrition, is surprised to see SpongeBob there and tells SpongeBob that he should find a new job after she learns he was fired. Deciding that Sandy is right, SpongeBob thanks Patrick for trying to help him but points out that, while unemployment might be fun for him, SpongeBob needs a job. Patrick is fine with this and tells his best friend that he should do what he feels is right.
Over the next few days, SpongeBob tries getting a job at a hot dog joint, a pizzeria, a taqueria, and finally an Asian noodle house. He is fired each time for making a type of patty ("weenie patties," a "pizza patty," a "burrito patty" and a "noodle patty" respectively) instead of what each respective restaurant itself specializes in. After being dismissed from the noodle house, SpongeBob goes home and prepares some homemade pet food for Gary, noticing that they're out of store bought food. Gary loves the food, but the gluttonous Patrick shares it. Eventually, the doorbell rings, and SpongeBob answers, but he is stashed into a body bag shaped like a hot dog bun and taken back to the hot dog joint, where he is forced to work because, surprisingly, the customers loved the weenie patties that SpongeBob created. Soon, all four of the restaurant managers who fired SpongeBob before are fighting over him because their customers loved the patty creations he made.
A mysterious person in a Krabby Patty costume arrives, defeats all four of the restaurant managers, saves SpongeBob, and takes him back to the Krusty Krab, which has faltered ever since Mr. Krabs fired SpongeBob and took over as the fry cook. Squidward reveals himself as the person in the costume and explains that, as much as he hates SpongeBob (which SpongeBob himself acknowledges), he hates the smell of burning Krabby Patties even more, and both he and Mr. Krabs ask SpongeBob to be the fry cook again. Mr. Krabs admits that he made a huge mistake in firing SpongeBob in the first place. SpongeBob gladly accepts his old job as the fry cook and puts the restaurant back on track, which brings back all the customers, even the four restaurant managers who fought over SpongeBob. At the end of the episode, Mr. Krabs installs a pay toilet that costs a nickel to use, thus making up the nickel that he previously lost by hiring SpongeBob.
In an October 30, 2013 article of the New York Post, it was first reported that "SpongeBob, You're Fired" would air on Nickelodeon in the United States on November 11, 2013. In the article, Russell Hicks, president of content, development and production for Nickelodeon, said "Like all really great cartoons, part of SpongeBob's long-running success has been its ability to tap into the zeitgeist while still being really funny for our audience." He further stated that "As always, despite this momentary setback, SpongeBob's eternal optimism prevails, which is always a great message for everyone."
On July 21, 2013, Tom Kenny presented an event called "SpongeCon 2013: The Year of the Fan" at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2013. The event hosted the official and exclusive sneak preview of "SpongeBob, You're Fired" and the screening of the SpongeBob SquareShorts global short film competition finalists. Prior to the official preview, a sneak peek of the episode was featured on Nick Studio 10, hosted by Noah Grossman and Gabrielle "Gabby" Senn, on June 10, 2013. A "SpongeBob expert" named Sophia said that "the unthinkable [will] happen to SpongeBob [in this episode]". She remarked that the episode is "pretty top secret".
As part of the marketing campaign for the episode, Nickelodeon debuted an online game of the same name. Beginning November 6, players could visit "nick.com/spongebob" to play the game. In the gameplay, players must accurately cook the orders of the diners while juggling each server's impatience level in order to keep them "happy as possible". Furthermore, Nickelodeon published a collection called SpongeBob SquarePants: Get to Work! on iTunes. On November 6, Nickelodeon debuted the full-length trailer of the episode to garner more exposure. Earlier that day, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively debuted the 45-second teaser. The source also released in advance an exclusive 90-second trailer of the episode, featuring SpongeBob getting the ax from Mr. Krabs, on November 4.
"SpongeBob, You're Fired" first aired on Nickelodeon (Greece) on July 3, 2013. In the United States, it premiered on November 11. The original U.S. airing of the episode on Nickelodeon brought in the biggest audience viewership for a SpongeBob SquarePants episode in two years, with 5.186 million households tuning in overall. The episode tied with CBS' Hostages, the "poorest performer", from the "Big Four" of the night. However, across cable, the show outperformed The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (0.8 adults), Teen Mom (0.7 adults) and The Daily Show (0.6 adults). The broadcast was the second most viewed show among all the day's cable programs (a Monday Night Football contest between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on ESPN came first). The episode topped the 2–11, 6–11 and 9–14 in the kids demographics.
"SpongeBob, You're Fired" received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and fans alike.
The episode was criticized for dialogue referencing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps benefit). In a scene from the episode, Patrick Star tries to show SpongeBob "the benefits of being unemployed", to which SpongeBob replies, "Unemployment may be fun for you, but I need to get a job." The scene was meant to demonstrate the title character's "eternal optimism and willingness to get back to work...in a way that's still funny and relatable". However, some political activists claimed the "notorious line" was a "slam" to the Food Stamps benefit. A report by The Hollywood Reporter alleged that the episode may have had a political agenda about the social safety net. It added that "It's not the first time SpongeBob has waded into social commentary, though usually when it does, it bugs the right and supports the left." The Hollywood Reporter cited the previous episodes "SpongeBob's Last Stand" and "Selling Out" for where "environmentalism is glorified" and "large businesses are demonized".
According to various sources, the story line is said to be "symbolic of a harsh economic climate". The plot eventually sparked a political debate for its depiction of unemployment. Prior to the premiere, the New York Post published an article on the episode. Critics accused the author, Andrea Morabito, of attacking "poor people" who rely on government assistance, referring to individuals who rely on food stamps as "mooching off the social services" and applauding SpongeBob for instead quickly returning to "gainful employment". Fox News's Heather Nauert of Fox & Friends stated that "the harsh economic climate has hit the underwater community", but "instead of mooching off social services at Bikini Bottom...SpongeBob sets out to return to the work force".
After the New York Post and Fox News commented on the episode, Media Matters for America, a politically progressive media watchdog group, responded. The group accused the media sources, both owned by News Corporation, of using the episode "to slam poor people who use social services". In response to Fox News, Media Matters immediately posted an item online titled "Right-Wing Media Use SpongeBob SquarePants' Firing To Attack Social Safety Net", arguing that the two "are using the firing of fictional cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants to attack the social safety net and those who rely on it". Media Matters was "also particularly bothered by [a] line from The Post story: 'Lest he sit around idly, mooching off the social services of Bikini Bottom, a depressed SpongeBob sets out to return to gainful employment wherever he can find it', reporter Andrea Morabito wrote. 'No spoilers—but it's safe to say that our hero doesn't end up on food stamps, as his patty-making skills turn out to be in high demand.'"
Civil rights activist and talk show host Al Sharpton of MSNBC remarked in the October 31 episode of PoliticsNation that "The right-wingers found a new hero in its war against the poor [...] SpongeBob SquarePants. That's right. SpongeBob SquarePants [...] So a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea doesn't need government help. That means no one does?"
Nickelodeon declined to comment on the issue caused by the message of the episode. However, Russell Hicks of Nickelodeon said the show is "tapping into the news of the moment, but did not specifically address any political leanings or ideologies within the episode." In a statement, Hicks said "Like all really great cartoons, part of SpongeBob's long-running success has been its ability to tap into the zeitgeist while still being really funny for our audience. As always, despite this momentary setback, SpongeBob's eternal optimism prevails, which is always a great message for everyone."
Nickelodeon and Random House released a book based on the episode called You're Fired!. The book is illustrated by David Aikins and was released on January 7, 2014. "SpongeBob, You're Fired!" was released on a DVD compilation of the same name on April 29, 2014 by Nickelodeon and Paramount Home Entertainment. The DVD includes the episode itself, "Neptune's Spatula", "Welcome to the Chum Bucket", "The Original Fry Cook", "Le Big Switch", "Model Sponge", "Employee of the Month", "Bossy Boots", "Krusty Dogs", "License to Milkshake", "Help Wanted", "Wet Painters", "Krusty Krab Training Video", and "Pizza Delivery". On October 10, 2017, "SpongeBob, You're Fired!" was released on the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete 9th Season DVD, alongside all episodes of the ninth season.
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