I am a huge fan of animated shows (for adults), and often times they get written off as just being another Family Guy or South Park. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I don’t like Family Guy and South Park, but that is just scratching the surface of what you can watch. At times it can be easy to believe that they are the only options out there, both of them having a fairly large claim over the genre.
Note: I am not including anime, it’s kind of category all it’s own
Rick and Morty
The most basic description of this show is that it’s a sci-fi dark comedy. Truly that only scratches the surface of Rick and Morty. It’s a comedy, drama, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, slice of life show that seems to tap into just a bit of everything. Some episodes stay more on the surface of things, making you laugh, while giving sci-fi fans easter eggs to enjoy. Other episodes will hit you hard with interesting (often depressing) messages about the nature of relationships and the universe. It’s does a great job at balancing all these different themes, and is one of the most memorable shows you will see. It’s made me laugh, cry, cringe, and even want to turn it off at times. I love Rick and Morty, and you really need to catch up before the third season airs.
I often live in a world where everyone already knows and loves Archer, only to find out the show is dismissed by some. If you have blown this off as just another copy and paste adult animated series you are missing out. Archer honors many classic spy shows and movies while following the ridiculous, yet lovable, cast of characters. It stays more on the surface of things, bringing laughs and entertainment, but every once in awhile it goes into deeper character development and stories. The cast is where the show shines, they are easy to love and easy to hate all at the same time. If you love action and dark humor you need to be watching Archer.
This show is one of the best for taking on issues of racism, culture, class, and stereotypes. Not one of the best animated shows to do so, one of the best, period. It can be an extremely challenging show to watch, but still more than worth it. It’s funny, but holds no punches when it has a point to make. The show sadly ended a few short year ago, but is on Netflix, with rumors of more services picking it up soon. If you haven’t seen this you need to.
I think this show gets easily dismissed because people assume it has the same formula as Family Guy. It really and truly is nothing like those shows. Bob is not a lovable idiot, he is a hard working amazing father. None of the children have a slightly hateful relationship with their parents, in fact the entire family is pretty close. Louise is not a Stewie replacement. The only thing it has in common with Family Guy is it can be ridiculous at times. Don’t dismiss this show. It’s a funny and pretty heartwarming look at family life. It is hilarious, but it’s comedy comes from a completely different place and is rarely on the dark side. Watch. This. Show.
The Venture Brothers
I am not entirely in love with some of the direction this show has taken, but it still holds a special place in my heart. The show has many themes, and spoofs many different genres and characters. At the heart of the show is looking at what would happen to a character like Johnny Quest when he grows up. Dr Venture was a boy wonder (like you would see on an old tv show) and it’s completely destroyed his life. He is unable to live up to expectations set for him, is incapable of making real connections, and is to an extent a failure. Being a boy wonder has shaped his life, and not in a good way. Those around him are also highly impacted by the way Venture was raised. His friends and enemies have at various points been sucked into the vortex that was his life, and almost exclusively negatively impacted by it. It’s strange, dark, and entertaining.
Honorable Mention: Gravity Falls
I debated whether or not to include this show for the simple reason that it’s not for adults. Gravity Falls is a Disney animated series about a brother and sister sent to live in Gravity Falls. Not long after being there they discover that there is something strange (or rather a number of somethings) about the town. It brings in a great deal of supernatural with it’s comedy. Despite not being for adults it is a show that adults can easily enjoy. I don’t say this lightly. While I like a number of animated shows for kids I am hard pressed to say that it’s something many adults could like. Gravity Falls is smart, and not in the “we are going to hide sex jokes in Loony Tunes” smart. Rather it focuses on clever humor that both adults and children will enjoy. Many of the jokes in the show that might go over kids heads won’t do so because they are dirty but rather because they are truly intelligent, or easter eggs for things that kids probably haven’t come into contact with. It only gets an honorable mention because it’s still at it’s core a kids show. A few of the episodes, while entertaining, are not as impressive. The main story, and clever nature of this show made me feel like I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention it.