Orange Soda Addiction may have Irreparably Strained Keenan and Kel’s Off-
Kenan Rockmore:“Who loves orange soda?”
Kel Kimble:“K-K-Kel loves orange soda.”
Kenan Rockmore:“Is it true? Is it TRUUUUE?”
Kel Kimble:“MMMHHMMM! I do, I do, I do-oooh!”
— Kenan Thompson and Kel Kimble
In September of 2015, dedicated fans of 90s Nickelodeon classics All That and Kenan & Kel witnessed the reunion of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell in a sketch on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. This scene, which brought tears tothe eyes of fully grown adults that grew up alongside the once inseparable duo,was inspired by the Good Burger film that originally aired almost 20 years prior.
While this gathering of the two teenage television stars brought a wave elation and serenity for loyal fans of the pair, many remain confused as to what caused this separation. On and of the set of All That and Kenan & Kel, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell displayed a genuine friendship that captivated the hearts of a nation’s youth; which begs the question as to how the twosome that brought a form sidesplitting humor never before seen could go years without speaking to one another?
In 2012, Kel Mitchell attributed the years of silence and separation to Thompson “wanting to make a name for himself solo”, however, many fans believe that there was much more than individual career aspiration that lead to the split. Recently, a theory has emerged linking Kel’s affinity for orange soda, a staple of the show, to the falling out between the two. This theory calls the viewer to objectively read between the lines of Kel’s obsession for the caffeinated beverage that he can be seen in most episodes drinking.
Retrospectively viewing episode while substituting orange soda with a substance more commonly associated with serious addiction calls for grave concern. The stages of substance abuse were everywhere, yet fans failed to take this dependency on a fizzy drink for anything more than ahumorous plot line.
Kel Kimble (in English class):“Who loves orange soda-eth? Kel loves orange soda-eth. Is it tru-eth? Mmmhmm-eth. I do, I do, I dooooo-eth.”
— Kel Kimble
Kel can be seenin most episodes drinking orange soda, on many occasions being unwillingly bribed into doing things by another character offering him the beverage as areward for his participation in the delinquency. Often overlooked is the fact that Kel never once pays for the orange soda, instead stealing the drink from Keenan’s employer (Rigby’s) if other characters are unable to provide him hisfix.
The surface level humor blanketing this obvious dependency on a controlled substance mayhave mislead audiences for years. What may have started as a harmless effort tomeet the interests of viewers entertained by Kel’s soda loving antics, could have grown into a much darker set of behavior needed to meet these expectations that crossed the threshold between televised entertainment and real life obsession.
This hypothesis provides an explanation for Kel’s disappearance from show business, which coincided with Keenan’s ascendency within the solo comedy ranks of mainstream entertainment. Amidst what became more than a decade of silence between the two stars, it would appear that Kel’s attempts to reconnect with his former friend were thwarted repeatedly. An illustration of this came when the two were presented with Nickelodeon’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kel had publicly stated prior to the televised presentation of the award that he not only planned on attending the event, but hoped it would provide an opportunity for the twoto finally reconnect. Instead, Thompson recorded a speech for the ceremony that not once acknowledged his co-star nor his well-documented attraction to orange soda. This came to the surprise and disappointment of Kel who at the very least hoped for a shoutout from his former best-friend.
Perhaps Keenan’s lack of communication with Kel over the years was not a byproduct of spitefulness or disinterest, but rather an act of tough love. The show made it evident that Kel’s dependency on orange soda was repeatedly fostered by Keenan’s ability to easily attain the drink through his employment Rigby’s. Kel’s lack of expendable currency to pay for the drink indicates that he had already spent all of his money to quench his thirst for the sugary beverage.Whether or not Keenan, or the writers of the show repeatedly including Kel’s orange soda consumption within the show’s script, are to blame, Keenan remaining distant from a friendship that could not have been faked appears to be motivated by remorse.
We may never know the true reason for the two remaining estranged from one another for such a significant period of time. However, the theory that Kel may have been rehabilitating in order to remove an unbearable addiction which American audiences turned a blind eye to for years certainly appears to have some traction. Regardless, what matters most is that the two have reconnected and Kel appears to have reconstituted his identity as an entertainer that does not compromise his health in a detrimental manner that his orange soda guzzling roles on Nickelodeon required.
Kenyan Rockmore (to Rigby’s manager): “Have you noticed anything strange about him lately?”
Ken Kimble (ignoring Kenan heading directly toward cold beverage section): “Who loves orange soda? K-K-Kel loves orange soda.”
We hope to never see a steak driven between the bond between a duo of comics that captivated a generation in the form of an artificially flavored caffeine soda or any other dividing force. The story of Keenan and Kel is tell tale example of how enabling addiction can break apart the most closely knit relationships. While old episodes of Keenan and Kel should be retrospectively relished, please take the actions of Kel’s character with a grain of salt. This show’s humor brought two bright young stars of comedy to the national spotlight, but as Kel Mitchell’s career trajectory and burned relational bridges with loved ones would indicate, orange soda addiction is no laughing matter.