-Contributed by Amanda H.
I was watching the Dexter’s Laboratory episode “Dream Machine” and for those unfamiliar with how the episode opens, here is a summary: Dexter is taking a test with the time running out. There is only one question: 2 + 2=____. Even though the question is easy for a ‘genius’ like Dexter, he can’t answer it. He hears a sound like a ink-jet printer running and looks over to see his sister Deedee also taking a test but the only question on her test is “What is the purpose of meaning?”, which she answers easily with a streaming of mathmatical equations. Sure, it is played for comedic effect that Dexter, a boy who actually looks forward to things like tests and quizzes to show off his intelligence like the big nerd he is, unable to answer an easy question and feeling inadequate compared with his ‘stupid’ sister but that made me think: Does Dexter actually fear that Deedee might be smarter than him and fear losing his only defining characteristic; his intelligence? According to Dream Moods.com, the dream (or nightmare, in this case) of taking a test, the circumstances (in this case, Deedee taking a test right beside Dexter and breezing through a complicated and somewhat philosophical question) of the dream highlight fears in the waking life, of competition and a percieved feeling of inadequacy. Because the logic of science is Dexter’s only comfort, he feels possessive of that quality and cannot accept the thought that Deedee could be as smart as or even smarter than him. In the episode “Come Back Sassy” when Dexter and his family go camping, he complains that there is nothing scientific about being outside and among nature, which makes Deedee bring up Gregor Mendel, the scientist who was considered the Grandfather of Genetics. Dexter yells at Deedee that he knows this, muttering to himself on how Deedee could know something like that. In “Old McDexter”, Deedee says Dexter “would know ‘cool’ if it was tattooed on your retina’, which causes a similar reaction: a hostile and annoyed “I KNEW THAT!”, while questioning why and/or how Deedee could know something like that. I was trying to categorize Deedee intelligence in its own way and I think she might be closer to an idiot savant than an actual idiot. In the cartoon, she shows a tremendous imagination (not getting into the separate topic of whether her imaginary friend, Koosalagoopagoop is real or not) and a gift for storytelling, so much so that when Dexter shrinks down and sneaks into Deedee’s room to spy on her in “Doll House Drama”, he gets sucked into Deedee’s soap-opera style story she concocts with him and her Darby doll. In his mind, he has already defined Deedee as stupid and cannot see it another way that maybe she doesn’t invent things like Dexter but may still be smart. Back to the episode, Dexter brings Deedee to man the Dream Machine to make sure he says in the Dream state and doesn’t cross over into another Nightmare. (why he brings a sleepy Deedee and doesn’t give the job to his computer is a bit confusing but for my theory, it works) His dream goes swimmingly, dreaming of achieving a state of accumulating all knowledge until Deedee invades his dream and calls into question his intelligence. She brandishes her test on the purpose of meaning, representing the one thing Dexter doesn’t know and he seeks out the Grandfather of All Knowledge who is: Dee. Deedee’s intrusion into Dexter’s fantasy of being smart and successful mirrors his waking life: Deedee invading his ‘mind’ (his laboratory) and causing discord.