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Cartoons—Not Just for Saturday Morning Anymore
by Branden Hart
When I was growing up, Saturday morning meant cartoons. I was never the kind of kid who slept in on the weekends. I was usually up by six in the morning, fixing myself cereal and orange juice, and watching whatever was on. Hell, I really can’t even remember what cartoons I used to watch religiously. I don’t think I had any. I just watched whatever caught my eye when I was flipping through the stations.
Things change. As an adult, I can still enjoy some children’s cartoons. But what I really enjoy are the adult cartoons out there. I’m not talking about hentai. I mean, seeing some woman get fucked by a guy with a cock that talks and has moving parts has its plusses, but I’m really talking about shows like the Simpsons. Cartoons are firmly rooted as a viable form of entertainment for all ages.
I found out today that on Sunday, one of my favorite cartoons—King of the Hill—will start its eleventh season. So I thought this would be a good time to share my favorite adult cartoons of all time.
1. King of the Hill
I grew up in Texas, so this show is right up my alley (no pun intended) anyway. But what makes it special is that, unlike recent episodes of The Simpsons or Family Guy, it doesn’t rely on gimmicks. It's a sitcom, through and through. Hank, a stalwart man, trying to fight change, and his family are just a pleasure to watch. This is a cartoon unlike any that are on television. Stories are heartfelt, with subtle references to the subjects being lampooned. It's worth noting that King of the Hill was only the third prime time cartoon to succeed (the first was The Flintstones, the second was The Simpsons). Quite the accomplishment for Mike Judge (co-creator of the series) which leads us to the next entry.
2. Beavis and Butthead
I owe a large amount of my sense of humor to this show. The stories and ten-minute episodes were often hilarious, but looking back on them now, they seem a little stilted and don't really stand the test of time. What DOES stand the test of time is the classic B&B commentary on music videos. If you have not seen Beavis and Butthead comment on videos, you have missed an essential part of American humor. From Beavis imitating Andy Rooney during a critique of the video "Funk That," to Butthead's unrivaled excitement at seeing a Gwar video, these segments are classic in American television. People have screamed in horror when buying early compilations of the series when they discovered that the videos weren't included. But that time has passed, as the Mike Judge collection of Beavis and Butthead has been released, and includes many of the video judgments we all know and love.
3. The Simpsons
Is there anything more classic? The Simpsons have been part of our lives for two decades. From a lowly start on The Tracy Ullman Show, America's favorite family grew into its own. And while the last few seasons have been disappointing, nobody can deny how much this show has influenced television, as well as American society. I remember my mom forbidding me from watching this show because she didn't want me to adopt Bart's flagrant underachiever attitude. Well, I love you mom, but you were wrong. Bart's attitude about life, school, and all things fun is satire at its finest. With distinguished writers like Conan O'Brien, this series has packed more laughs in its run than most TV sitcoms put together.
4. Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist
I'll admit that, for the most part, Dr. Katz was a place where up-and-coming comedians basically did their act in an animated form. But there's something about the squiggly animation (seen most recently in Home Movies) and the interaction of Dr. Katz with his patients, son, and secretary that is simply charming. I used to stay up on Sundays to watch this show. It came on Comedy Central after The Critic (another underrated animated series) and it's downright hilarious. The first and second seasons are on DVD right now—you better believe I have both.
5. Aqua Teen Hunger Force
I know I've left out so many great animated shows. Sealab 2021, Family Guy, American Dad, Futurama—they're all great. But these five take the cake for me. Yet it can't be denied that there is a vast multitude of cartoons that we should all pay attention to beyond this list. So, I leave it up to you readers to tell me what those are.
Uberchief still has Spongebob Squarepants sheets on his bed.
I never watched King of the Hill until Turtle got here. I always thought of it as a stupid kind of show. I was totally wrong, the humor is pretty damn smart. And funny. Except I HATE Peggy. HATE HER. Like, I want to stab her in the face and watch her bleed out.
ATHF rules my world.
Posted by: michele | January 29, 2007 7:19 AM
- Family Guy
- Beavis & Butthead
- Ren & Stimpy
- Spongebob Squarepants
- The Fairly Oddparents
Posted by: baby huey | January 29, 2007 7:46 AM
Ren & Stimpy
Courage the Cowardly Dog
Posted by: Cullen | January 29, 2007 8:49 AM
I second your love of King of the Hill, especially for the greatness of Boomhower.
I don't know if it counts, but what about Robot Chicken? That is one of the few shows that makes me laugh out loud.
Posted by: The Deacon | January 29, 2007 9:21 AM
Samurai Jack was a masterpiece, Cullen. The animation, the character design and the use of silence really floored me.
I'd like to add Cowboy Bebop, Big O, Paranoia Agent and Ergo Proxy, as well.
Posted by: thefinn | January 29, 2007 9:55 AM
Animated Star Trek
Posted by: Ernie | January 29, 2007 10:00 AM
I'd say Robot Chicken counts, for the sake of the conversation.
Some of the stuff on Adult Swim is great, but some of it is way too bizarre for me. 40-ounce Mouse is one (I think that's the name). So freaking weird.
Posted by: Uber | January 29, 2007 11:29 AM
Interesting how Adult Swim has become what Liquid TV was on MTV 20 years ago.
Posted by: Cullen | January 29, 2007 12:03 PM
Good point Cullen. I thought long and hard about putting the original Aeon Flux shorts on my list, but decided against it. That was some pretty innovative stuff though.
Posted by: Uber | January 29, 2007 12:47 PM
you have all forgotten squidbillies!!!!
See this is funny because it is so out there.
Unknown Hinson is great as the voice of Early. His voice is perfect and the constant references to Mr. Patrick Swayze and meth labs make this show so out there that someone like me can truely enjoy it.
There is just something about a bunch of creatures whacked out on meth, talking about how great a movie "Roadhouse" was that just speaks to me.
Posted by: turtle | January 29, 2007 1:34 PM
in case you guys don't know who Unknown Hinson is...
Posted by: turtle | January 29, 2007 1:37 PM
i am also trying to get into "Frisky Dingo" but that one is a little too far out there. I can't really follow what the hell is going on
i mean, it looks funny..
Posted by: turtle | January 29, 2007 1:59 PM
Avatar the Last Airbender on Nicktoons. I'm totally a sucker for that cartoon. Great storyline.
Posted by: Brianna | January 29, 2007 2:30 PM
What is Avatar about Brianna? I've been hearing a lot more about it lately.
Posted by: Uber | January 29, 2007 2:38 PM
Oh, and Rocko's Modern Life. Hell of a toon that was.
Posted by: Cullen | January 29, 2007 3:07 PM
Avatar is pretty cool, though it's more kid friendly than most of what's listed here.
I miss Home Movies from Adult Swim. That was my favorite show on AS before ATHF took over.
Posted by: michele | January 29, 2007 4:35 PM
Avatar is a little more kid friendly, but don't let that fool you. What blows me away about Avatar is the complexity of the plot line, the development of all the characters and the fact that it has all the best qualities of a great Japanese series. Yet, it's produced in the States and by Nick. Boggles the mind, it does.
Posted by: thefinn | January 29, 2007 8:01 PM
You all should check out Invader Zim. It's dark as hell for the seven year-old crowd it is supposedly targeted for. Also, Gir is awesome.
Posted by: A.T. | February 15, 2007 11:07 AM