SpongeBob is often seen hanging around with his best friend, starfishPatrick Star, one of his neighbors. SpongeBob lives in a submerged pineapple with his pet snail, Gary. His unlimited optimistic cheer often leads him to perceive the outcome of numerous endeavors and the personalities of those around him as happier than they really are. He believes, for instance, that Squidward Tentacles enjoys his company even though he clearly harbors an intense dislike for him (though they have been shown to get along on rare occasions). SpongeBob's greatest goal in life is to obtain his driver's license from Mrs. Puff's boating school, but he often panics and crashes when driving a boat.
Throughout SpongeBob SquarePants' first run, the SpongeBob character became popular with both children and adults. In June 2010, James Poniewozik of Time magazine considered the character "the anti-Bart Simpson, temperamentally and physically: his head is as squared-off and neat as Bart's is unruly, and he has a personality to match–conscientious, optimistic and blind to the faults in the world and those around him."The New York Times critic Joyce Millman said, "His relentless good cheer would be irritating if he weren't so darned lovable and his world so excellently strange SpongeBob joyfully dances on the fine line between childhood and adulthood, guilelessness and camp, the warped and the sweet." Robert Thompson, a professor of communications and director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, told The New York Times: There is something kind of unique about [SpongeBob]. It seems to be a refreshing breath from the pre-irony era. There's no sense