Yep, I’m one of those people. The ones who can’t grow out of their cartoon phase and creepily gobble up kiddie cartoons like no other, snacking on cap’n crunch drenched in chocolate syrup. Just kidding, I have Celiac; no gluten for me. Off the bat, I have watched all the seasons of at least 5 different cartoon shows and I have no regrets whatsoever.
Aren’t cartoons just for kids? There’s nothing in a cartoon that adults would find entertaining! I meet a lot of people that scoff when they find out I watch cartoons and a lot of these people think I’m watching cartoons of the same caliber of the ones I watched as a child. I get it, I used to be that person before I was forcibly converted, holy water and all. Although that’s true that the cartoons I watched as a kid, which are way too immature for me now, that doesn’t mean there aren’t cartoons for you out there.
What I’m talking about are cartoons with that subtle adult humor in it that is harmless if kids catch it, but adds a little somethin’ extra when watching it as an adult—multi-age cartoons. These happen to be the ones with huge cult followings too, but I knew them before they got big… because I’m a hipster. Also don’t tell anyone I told you myself that I was a hipster. That’s not what hipsters do. Ah, god, these manuals need to be more user-friendly.
The ones we watched as kids, like Scooby-Doo aren’t intellectually stimulating at all… unless you’re somehow incapacitated temporarily in that sense, ahem hangovers. These are the kid equivalent of procedural CSI shows—stuff you can put on in the background, promptly forget, come back 40 minutes later and immediately understand what you missed. Obviously, this guide is by no means comprehensive, mostly because I haven’t had much time to foray into all sorts of cartoons, or at all unbiased, because this is a personal blog. But it takes a very special kind to get me to watch, so if you’re the same, this is perfect for you.
This one’s a pretty popular one and very easy to get into. If someone’s been telling you to watch this for a while, I’d go home, watch it, slap myself for not believing them earlier, and then binge the next 50 episodes on cloud 9.
It follows a 12-year-old boy Finn (you can still empathize with a 12-year-old character, can’t you, you monster!) in the Land of Ooo with his magical dog Jake, who is basically like Mrs. Incredible in that he is super malleable and can take on any form at any time. This show is about their adventures in this kingdom and its inhabitants, some of which include Lumpy Space Princess, my favorite, and Ice King. The humor in it is spot on and sometimes subtle if you don’t know it’s there.
One of my favorite episodes with LSP is when she tries to make herself “smooth” to fit in—a great metaphor for body image, actually. But don’t just take my word for it; IndieWire basically said the same thing here, calling it a sci-fi show. Just try an episode or two and you’ll know whether you like it or not!
- “How do I say, ‘You’re the grossest thing ever’ without offending you?”
- “This outbox is packed tighter than my tummy tunnel when I can’t make brown on the camping trips. Because of my anxiety and I have IBS also.”
Avatar: the Last Airbender
Oh man, this one is the cause of some long sleepless nights in high school after my friend finally convinced me to watch it. I was extremely wary because the art style was quite similar to that of anime, which is what kids gunning for social suicide watched nonstop. But I have to say, Avatar is Nickelodeon’s crowning glory.
This one is more plot-driven than the other ones and features equally small characters. Let’s call it the Harry Potter of cartoons in its quest-like wonder. Basically, in this world there are 4 nations based on the element certain members of their population can control; air, fire, water, and earth. The people who can control these elements are called [element]-benders. Somewhere in that mix is an Avatar, which is one person who can control all of the elements in case of emergencies. Thing is, for the past 100 years, no one has seen the Avatar… until these two kids find him encased in a giant ice ball. And that’s just where the story starts.
The whole series is only 3 seasons so it’s a very quick commitment. For a kids’ cartoon, it dealt with a lot of more serious issues than I was prepared to face in high school. I am also emotionally stunted.
Gravity Falls is my latest cartoon find and came surprisingly from the Disney Channel, home of winners like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. I was unsure of the show at first because I didn’t really like the animation style. And then I finished season one in 2 days—wait, what? They use more adult humor to keep you engaged throughout and there’s an element of supernaturalism. Basically, the premise is that two kids are staying with their great-uncle Stan, who owns Mystery Shack somewhere in Oregon. Pretty quickly, within the first episode, you realize that something is off about this town… something supernatural.
One of many quality quotes:
Mabel: Ah, the pool! Sparkling oasis of summer enchantment!
Stan: Yeah, nothing like sitting in a moist tub with strangers. It’s like the bus but wet.
Ah, Bob’s Burgers. If I didn’t like Gravity Falls’s animation, I really didn’t like the animation in Bob’s Burgers. It reminded me too much of shows like Family Guy, which I don’t care for. And anyone that puts that little effort into character design knows they’re animating a crappy series.. or so I thought. Turns out that they put little effort into character design because they knew the humor and storyline could carry itself! Rife with kids with adult lines and a hypersexual daughter that is voiced by a man. Actually, all of the voice actors are men, save for Louise, the girl in the pink bunny ears… which is hilarious when you think about it. If that didn’t get you to search for the show immediately, I’m not sure if you’re human!
The only premise this show has is that Bob and his family man his burger restaurant, called Bob’s Burgers. That’s it. Everything else revolves around the characters and their interactions. Whereas Avatar is a plot-driven show, I would say Bob’s is a character-driven one.
Tina: I’m no hero. I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else.
Tina: Your ass is grass and I’m going to mow it.
Gene: Can I just say one thing? I think I have the best legs in the whole family, and the smoothest bottom.
This is here because I couldn’t leave it without a superhero cartoon! This is based off of the original DC comics, but probably got its popularity from not having characters that are constantly overused in the media. I mean, when else do you get to see Robin (from Batman and Robin) lead an elite teen team of superheros, including Cyborg (half man, half robot), beast boy (who can turn into any animal), Raven (daughter of a human and an interdimensional demon) , and Starfire (from a different planet).
I would compare this series to that of the Sky High movie, where it’s basically a bunch of side- or lesser-known characters that join together to make an awesome force. This one is awesome in the classic, easy, stand-alone superhero episodes that remind us all of our childhoods.
People always talk to coworkers about movies they saw over the weekend, but I hardly notice anyone watching Big Hero 6 or How to Train Your Dragon 2, both of which are widely acknowledged as amazing movies. Go see them now. Regardless of the style or whether there are actual human actors in the movie or not, cartoons are cool, too! I mean, we all still watch the rare Disney when they do come out with new animated movies, why can’t we do the same to off-brand cartoons as well?
So far, I feel like cartoon-watching adults still occupy a very small, niche category. I was even a little hesitant in outing myself on the blog… but also it’s my blog and I would feel too constrained if I couldn’t share even the most basic facets of my personality with you guys. I love how silly cartoons are and, in a way, it comforts me knowing that I can still get into them. It only means that my imagination is flexible as ever. Keep that kid inside you alive, y’all; don’t take yourself too seriously
Do you still watch cartoons? Why or why not?
*all photos not from me, found on various sources on the internet