There was a point as a child when I just stopped watching cartoons. I’m not entirely sure what nebulous social rule told me I needed to stop doing something that I liked, but I stopped watching nonetheless.
It wasn’t until I was older, wiser, and out of my “everything-that-I-do-must-be-cool-or-rebellious” phase, I came to realize that cartoons were cool. Specifically, ones that were created for an intelligent audience. That’s not to say that every episode of these shows is filled with references and humour that only the most educated will understand, but they do go beyond needing to be funny for the sake of having to be funny. They also avoid fart jokes as the main source of humour, which is always a win in my books. Here are five of my favourite animated shows currently on the air.
Before I start my top five list, I would like to throw out two honourable mentions of shows that are no longer with us.
The first goes to Futurama. Even though it was also created by Matt Groening, I’ve always felt that it was the far superior show. Don’t get me wrong, I like The Simpsons, but there was just something about the humour of Futurama that makes me wish it was the 20+ season show.
The second goes to Gravity Falls. Don’t let the fact that this is a Disney show fool you, there is just as much in it for adults as kids. While it saddens me deeply that this show was only two seasons long kudos to Alex Hirsch for killing it before it could get bad. That takes balls.
I won’t be the first or last person to say it, but this show has been on the decline since that disastrous Archer: Vice season. I get that you needed a way to get ISIS out of the show ASAP, but that season just sucked. It doesn’t look like the newest season will be loads better, although it does look like it will be returning to its James Bond-esque roots, but I will always hold out hope the it will reclaim the glory of its early seasons. Otherwise, the sugary and non-gritty plots will attract ants. That is how you get ants.
4. Steven Universe
Cartoon Network has had some hits (Adventure Time) and misses (Annoying Orange and Uncle Grandpa) in their kids programming as of late. Thankfully, Steven Universe is a hit. Each 11-minute episode usually ends with a neat and tidy solution, but that’s not why you watch it. You watch it for the host of relatable characters and the overarching plots. Sometimes it can get bogged down by the fact that this is actually a kids show, but those times are rare. Also can we talk about how Steven and Connie are the OTP of OTPs? Too cute.
3. Bob’s Burgers
I was sceptical of this show when I first heard the premise, mostly of the fact that it seemed like a waste of an animated show. A sitcom about a struggling family living above their restaurant? Please. The first season didn’t do much to ease my skepticism, but the seasons since haven’t disappointed. The characters are expertly crafted, especially Tina, Gene, and Louise. They provide the perfect balance of angst, comedic relief, and maniacal plots that keep the show moving forward. Also, the appreciation of butts will never go out of style.
2. Rick and Morty
A show about an alcoholic mad scientist who lives in his daughter’s garage, mostly ignores his granddaughter, hates his son-in-law, and goes on interdimensional adventures with his grandson. How did this get past the pilot? Because this show is relatable. Even though you might not have parties with Abradolf Lincler and Bird Person, the themes that are present throughout the show get you invested in the characters pretty quickly mostly because you can see a little bit of yourself in each of them. Also Rick’s phrases are pure gold, especially, “Riggity riggity wrecked!”
1. BoJack Horseman
This show is hands-down the best animated show on TV — well technically Netflix, but at this point they really are the same thing. I guess you could technically classify this as a comedy, but it has many aspects of other television genres expertly brought in. Again, it has the relatability factor going for it, but it is so much stronger in BoJack than in other shows. It deals with depression, substance abuse, and the overwhelming feeling that you might have peaked too soon. Also, the one episode when Todd actually gets to help and feel useful even though he fucks it up? That gets me everytime. I understand your pain, Todd.