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Ruby Gloom (2006)

by on 2012/07/15

“Enough is never enough with her.”

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Over the past year and a bit, I have been doing some serious and voluminous reading about the nature of mental illness. What causes it, what the symptoms are, and all the myriad different syndromes and disorders.

Many works I have encountered during my research speak of the tsunami of new illnesses being added with each new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), now in its fourth edition.

Why are there so many more disorders now than ever before? Is society getting crazier or are pharmaceutical companies looking to sell more pretty little pills? Hard to say.

The research has been interesting. At times, quite helpful. But there have been some unwanted side-effects.

Now everywhere I look, I see the signs of these syndromes all around me. The person raging at the customer service desk may have a touch of histrionic personality disorder. The woman muttering to herself at the bus stop might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The guy jogging beside me in the park might be grappling with a bad case of body dysmorphic disorder.

Now I’m even seeing syndromes playing out in my beloved cartoons. Ruby Gloom was a staple in our household for years. It was my favourite teenager Miss_Tree’s first exposure to the wide wonderful world of Baby Goth-ism. She wore the cool t-shirts and the swimsuits. In fact, that’s where Ruby Gloom was born, not from a comic book, but rather from an apparel franchise.

I’m glad Ruby Gloom leapt from the silk-screen t-shirt to the small screen. It is a wonderful Nelvana production that debuted on Canadian kids channel YTV back in 2006.

The adorable little red-haired giddy goth, voiced by Sarah Gadon, has been a part of our household ever since. But this “happiest girl in the world” has a nasty secret. I can’t believe I didn’t see it for all these years.

Ruby Gloom has codependent disorder. She’s an enabler. She enables all the people in her stylish sphere to avoid getting the help they need. And many need help.

Ruby’s always there with a ready excuse and a smile. It isn’t good.

Then there is Scaredy Bat. He is one of our very favourite characters, voiced by Canadian TV royalty Peter Keleghan (Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Ginger Snaps). Scaredy Bat has a clear case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). He is scared of absolutely everything. And he can’t shake it, in part, because of Ruby Gloom’s ongoing enabling.

Then there is Iris, the risk-taking cyclops. She’s impulsive , she is relentless in her pursuit of thrills, each more dangerous than the last. Iris has a howling case of Bipolar Personality Disorder.

Then there’s gloomy, accident-prone Misery, another favourite in my house. She’s got a black cloud hanging over her head (literally, in many cases). It is clear to me now that Misery is clinically depressed.

Two-head, guitar-thrashing Fred and Len are clear schizoid personalities. One side is sentimental and changeable, and the other more logical, intelligent.  But both like beans.

Mr. Buns, the entirely silent floppy rabbit, is catatonic. Doom Kitty, Ruby’s beloved black cat, is standoffish and uncommunicative. Doom Kitty can only “speak” through mime and violin noises. A clear case of Asberger’s Syndrome.

Skull Boy, literally a skull boy, is the sometimes object of Ruby’s affection. This skeletal youth has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), clearly. He doesn’t know who he is, he changes interests daily and leaps from activity to activity with no real focus  – sometimes he’s a great explorer, other days he is a ringmaster or a magician or a psychologist. Skull Boy is all over the map.

Then there is Poe, the crow. The dapper, pontificating blowhard is an open and shut case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Lots of “I” statements and long meandering, over-blown stories about his glorious exploits. Yep, a narcissist, indeed.

Ruby Gloom is a rich pageant of dysfunction and disorder, but a damned entertaining 40 episodes at that. A must-have for all those truth-seeking, research-oriented, gothically-minded cartoon lovers out there.

Never stop enabling, Ruby.

Happy Canadian Content, everyone.

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One Comment
  1. Jade permalink

    Absolutely loved this fascinating read as I’m quite taken with the Ruby Gloom crew myself.

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