Traditionally, animated television shows have been seen as being made for children. Over the years though with such shows such as The Simpsons and Archer, animated shows have been made with an adult audience in mind. These shows should be regarded with the same kind of criticism and analysis as live-action shows such as House of Cards because they have the potential as well to convey deep interpersonal relationships, emotional scenes, and have the freedom to be as raunchy and comedy oriented as they would like.
One freedom that animation gives shows that live-action lacks is that “”more adventurous framing and shooting style than traditional television formats” (Moon, Randell , 142). This is because there is no need to worry about what plausible way a camera crew can shoot a scene. An example of this is when Bill in F is for Family is rolling down a hill in an oil barrel and we get a close up scene of him spinning around. This would be difficult if not impossible for a live camera crew to shoot. Another freedom that this medium allows for creators is that they have more space to create dialogue because of their limited movements on camera. Randell and Moon discuss that animated characters have limited space as they are 2-D images as well as how the characters are designed. Archer for example is drawn with thick outlines over the characters which helps make them have more human skin tones as well as it creates distance from the flat backgrounds. In terms of how this helps dialogue, because of their limited movement, dialogue has to become front and center since prop comedy isn’t as useful. This can hinder the use of animation, but it can also help because with more dialogue, deeper interpersonal relationships can be developed, and more creative comedy can be used.
I think that critical interest of adult animated series has shifted over the past two decades just because of the constant demand we have for it. Quality has also improved…in some aspects. Bojack Horseman for example is one of the animated shows that shines a light on depression and addiction without glamorizing it as a “special sensitivity as Emily Nussbaum explains in her article. It is also set up in a sitcom-style to satirize the shows of the 1990s that Bojack was also a part of. The style is intentional, the characters are realistically flawed, and there are enough animal-pun humor to still have a trace of lightness in it. On the other hand, there are animated shows that do deal with difficult topics, but are not executed in a way that is compelling or comfortable to watch, and I am looking directly at Big Mouth. While it does satirize puberty and personifies hormones sometimes in witty ways, the animation style distracts from it and the blatant, crude way that it discusses sex is very uncomfortable. This is the kind of show that would make people steer away from adult animation because of it’s crude humor and topics. Another show that deserves mentioning is Rick and Morty because it became one of the biggest animated shows in the United States (remember the McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce craze?). But it also is similar to Bojack Horseman in that it looks at dark issues such as alcoholism and draws attention to it in a humorous way that people aren’t going to be turned off by the conversation, and I think that is really important.
Back to Big Mouth one of the questions listed was did I find any part of the show upsetting? Yes, I found everything upsetting about that show. It was uncomfortable to watch, and reliving moments of puberty and the pain of being a 11-13 year old is something that I want to forget. F is for Family was also pretty upsetting because of the family dynamic. It is set in the 1960s, which makes the “housewife” character more understandable, but Frank, the father was despicable. Yes, he didn’t get to live out dreams he had when he was younger, and is stuck in a suburban life with children he barely likes, but there was nothing redeemable about him. Even when Bill is able to get him a new TV, he made it about him, pointing to the fact that this time he wasn’t a loser. While some animated shows such as Bojack Horseman show promise for the animation medium, there is a handful of shows that made the medium unable to get the praise and criticism that it deserves.