Lee loves TV and films, and she's ready to give her hot take on some of her favorites
Adult Animated Television: Why It's Awesome
I am a child at heart.
And as all children do, I have a soft spot for animation. Whereas others’ guilty pleasures may be the Bachelorette, mine are Pixar and Ghibli.
And in the past couple decades, there has been an influx of adult television shows (some of them more well-received than others). While I am definitely no expert in all the animated TV that has been released, I will be reviewing all the ones that I’ve seen in their entirety. Because even if you aren’t a fan of animation, these shows have just as much, if not more, plot and character development than most straight TV shows that I’ve seen, and they’re definitely worth checking out.
- Big Mouth
- Rick and Morty
- Bojack Horseman
- Love, Death, Robots
1. Big Mouth
If you’ve ever wondered how a cartoon written by Nick Kroll would look, then you don’t have to imagine anymore. His Netflix show, Big Mouth, may be perhaps one of the dirtiest shows that I’ve seen (and it’s animated, no less).
The storyline follows Nick Kroll and his childhood best friend, Andrew Goldberg (who actually had a hand in co-writing the show), as they go through the joys of puberty and growing up. Andrew (voiced by John Mulaney) is growing into his own with the help of his Hormone Monster as he experiences feelings that he has never felt before and acts upon these new impulses in extremely awkward ways. Nick (voiced by Nick Kroll himself) on the other hand is quite the late bloomer and spends a lot of the story growing into himself that isn't centered around any noticeable physical changes.
What’s so brilliant about this show is that despite the sexual innuendos, silly characters, and scream-worthy awkward moments, the story is based in a lot of the truths that surround growing up. With Nick’s many failed middle school relationships and Andrew’s inability to stop his raging hormones, I personally was able to find a bit of my past (and present) self in this otherwise taboo topic. Plus, it’s unbelievably hilarious, and anyone with a mild to moderate dirty humor will absolutely love this show.
Besides, who doesn’t want to watch a show featuring a Hormone Monster?
Big Mouth Theme
Rick and Morty
This might be one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Written by Dan Harmond and Justin Roiland, this Adult Swim show has completely won my heart.
This show follows a genius scientist, Rick, and his grandson Morty, as they teleport through the universe going on adventures. And there have been some quirky ones, from the duo fighting off the galactic federation to going on magical adventures to Rick turning himself into a pickle so that he can get out of family therapy. The insane creativity of this show has kept it so original, even after four seasons, and the creators don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
To me, the most amazing part of this series is its brilliant mix between adventure, philosophy, humor, and heart. Each episode seems to tackle a new issue either embedded within the character or as a commentary of the world as a whole. Like, remember that one episode about Rick being a picke? One of the show’s creators, Dan Harmon, has confirmed that the entire episode, centering around Rick’s adventure of becoming a murderous pickle and infiltrating a Russian base, is an extended metaphor for alcoholism and mental health (and fun fact, this episode won the show an Emmy). The show also deals with various issues of existentialism, family, and heroism, all of which are explored through absurdist scenarios and hilarious characters.
This show is really one of a kind, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Rick and Morty Theme
3. Bojack Horseman
I watched this seven-season Netflix show, written by Raphael Bob-Waksberg, in the course of a month, and oh boy what a ride it was.
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Bojack Horseman is about this horse named Bojack (surprise surprise), who used to be famous as a TV actor in the 90s. Twenty years later, he has become a washed-up celebrity with an alcohol addiction and crippling laziness. After hiring a ghostwriter, Diane, to write his memoir for him, we get to dive into Bojack’s past, discovering exactly why he is the way he is now. The story follows a cast of characters in the city of Hollywoo, from Bojack to his ghostwriter to his agent to his roommate, all of whom offer commentary about fame and the human condition.
This show has it all: great plot, complex characters, wacky settings, and a great message. While I won’t go spoiling the entire show, what I can say is that even with the underlying absurdist philosophy that is the pinnacle of what makes the show so fantastic, the struggles of each of the characters--Bojack’s laziness, Diane’s depression, among others--makes the show so relatable, and personally I know that it changed the way I look at myself and the world.
For anyone who loves character complexity in shows, Bojack has you covered.
Bojack Horseman Theme
Whether you’re a Simpson’s fan or not, Disenchantment, created by Matt Groening, is great for anyone looking for a silly, light-hearted show.
The story follows Bean, the princess of Dreamland, who is just looking to have some fun. With her elven companion, Elfo, and her personal demon-friend, Luci, the three of them go on magical adventures filled with taverns, magical creatures, and adventure all the while.
While this show doesn’t have a deeper meaning, as compared to Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman, Disenchantment is extremely well done. The animation is engaging, and the lovably quirky characters of Bean, Elfo, and Luci will have you rooting for the trio the entire time. Bean is a strong female hero, something that the show also does a great job portraying, especially in the wave of the feminist movement. Plus, the physical humor and the dialogue makes it a great escape from reality. It’s a quick watch, and it's so, so fun.
Anyone who loves fantasy adventures with some adult humor mixed in, Disenchantment is the show for you.
5. Love, Death, + Robots
For anyone who loves love, death, robots, or a combination of all these three, I promise you that this show will blow your mind. Created by Tim Miller, this Netflix collection of short films is one of the most unique experiences that I’ve ever had watching a show.
Unlike the other four, this series doesn’t follow any storyline. Instead, it is made up of numerous different short films created by different animators, from fantasy to sci-fi to horror to action. Alien invasions, the entirety of world history in a refrigerator, werewolves, yogurt taking over the world, this show encompasses the creativity of so many animators into something that cannot be contained in a singular category.
Let’s get one thing straight: the animation of this series is unbelievable. Because they have hand picked different animators for each individual episode, the art styles range from cartoon to 3D, making each short film its own masterpiece. But beyond that, this show has something for everyone. Many of the shorts are humorous, many of the dramatic, many of them a mix of both. Some have hidden meanings, some are just exploring the alternate histories of Hitler. All in all, due to the stunning art styles and the vast variety of these creators, this show should be something everyone checks out, even if you aren’t particularly into animation.
Love, Death, + Robots Trailer
Why Should You Watch These Shows?
What once was seen as a medium for children has now been revolutionizing the film industry for adults as well. Whether you like animation or not, it's not going away anytime soon.
While it may not surpass the popularity of classic television, I definitely believe that you should give it a shot.
Comment down below: what is your favorite animated TV show?
Sue Schaffer on June 22, 2020:
I don't particularly care for adult animated TV shows.. but after reading your article, I am intrigued to watch them all now. Perhaps we all need to be kids at heart sometimes.