While we fondly remember being tickled and humorously disgusted by animated programmes of the past (many of which are still ongoing), adult animation has evolved far beyond its usual tactics of abusing the drawn medium to insert politically incorrect jokes, double entendres and foul-mouthed potty humour. With The Simpsons and Family Guy entering their umpteenth season with no signs of stopping; their un-aging caricatures of the American nuclear family have gone through so many years of paradigm shifts and social commentary they’ve become parodies of themselves (to comedic results of course).
The resurgence of quality TV programming with stream-on-demand giants like Netflix and FX has paralleled the rebirth of adult animation. No longer are writers and animators proving cartoons can cater to mature audiences; a given at this point when there are a plethora of animations out there that are dealing with mature themes and toy with the trivialities of adult life, illustrated with the endless possibilities of the hand-drawn/animated medium. Here I list a few note-worthy shows for one to check out.
Bojack facing his deepest fears
This show shouldn’t be taken lightly despite its acid-washed anthropomorphic animals. Once you have accepted its premise of self-aware talking animals who juggle professional jobs with personal aspirations and values all set in a cartoony Hollywood, the show becomes endearing in many ways. In between the witty dialogue and obligatory puns, the series is scattered with intimate scenes where members of the main cast are forced to apprehend their own fears and unmet inflated egos and ideals.
“One year, I build a treehouse. Then the next summer my dad tore it down, because instead of using good Christian nails I used screws, which he called ‘fancy Jew nails.”
Will Arnett (love-to-hate ‘Gob’ from Arrested Development) does a solid job in performing moments of crippling loneliness, melancholy and painful denial as the lead Horseman himself: a washed-up 90’s sitcom star coming to grips with the new decade’s celebrity culture and film industry. The series deals with real issues like shaken convictions that are hit hard by reality as well as tender existential moments. Alongside a powerful cast with the likes of Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris and Paul F. Thompkins, be prepared to laugh, cry and dig your nails on edge of your seat as the series goes from light tentative humour to self-destructive dark turns within an episode’s length.
Rick and Morty
If you haven’t been sold on Rick and Morty yet, this is the best time to get on the inter-dimensional spaceship as the series’ cult following is ravenous for its yet-to-be released third season. What started out as a lewd parody of the Back to the Future duo has manifested into a two-season long hurrah of reality-bending sci-fi adventures that question your grasp on humanity and your insignificant existence. The strong following that developed has given the show’s writers full reign on pushing the boundaries of what can be imagined and animated.
A literal Ice-T with guns blazing
The show juxtaposes a substance-abusing ‘mad’ scientist and his stuttering pubescent grandson as they visit a multitude of planets and realities. An Earth where its people are David Cronenberg abominations? A planet run by women under a tongue-in-cheek feminist utopia? Or a Jurassic Park-eque journey into the body of a hobo where humanity’s deadliest diseases are housed like zoo-exhibits? The show is built on the premise of constantly subverting societal norms and practices as you’ll find yourself in a world, probably developed from a crazy ‘what if…?’ conversation only to cut to a family dinner setting where Jerry (the lovable and dim father figure of the series) is engrossed in a mindless phone app. It’s enjoyably unsettling. Oh, and don’t expect any time travelling.
“I told them it means ‘peace among worlds’.”
It’s probably redundant to introduce this series as the show has been offending groups and individuals for 20 seasons. But hear me out, the series has been faithfully making fun of everything that has raised eyebrows in our public sphere and 2K16 has not been an exception. While the show still banks on its shock value of cussing little boys in a not-so-sleepy town, the last two seasons have been on the ball at putting recent social phenomena under a mock-all no holds barred lens of cute cut out animations and overblown sociopolitical criticism.
A new decade is upon us
The latest season has expounded on the mass media’s abuse of viewer nostalgia which has an opioid-like effect on people as they forget the bigger problems: like who to vote for in the American elections. Hilarity ensues as the citizens of South Park debate vehemently on why they’re voting for the ‘douchebag’ over the obviously inferior ‘turd sandwich’ for presidency. It is refreshing to see the four (antiquated in design) innocent boys of the show get overwhelmed by politically correct (PC) culture and the big can of worms of gender equality.
The Douchebag or the Turd Sandwich?