Everyone has his or her favorite television show they like to sit down and enjoy. Some people enjoy comedies, dramas, reality, and several other genres. When we are younger, most people grow up watching cartoons on weekend mornings. Over the years cartoons have taken on a new role and have created what are known as “adult cartoons.” Companies like Netflix, FX, and Adult Swim on Cartoon Network have combined cartoons with the comedy genre in order to arrive at “adult cartoons.” Over the last couple days I watched animated comedies on Netflix such as BoJack, F is For Family, and Big Mouth compared to non-animated shows.
While I was watching all three of these adult animated shows, which are suggested for ages 18 & up, my mind was completely blown away with everything I encountered. In an article called The Man from Isis: Archer and the Animated Aesthetics of Adult Cartoons, written by Holly Randell-Moon and Arthur J. Randell states, “Programmes such as Archer utilize this aesthetic to address material that live action television cannot due to the exigencies of performance and censorship that broadcast content is subject to. Archer makes creative use of the limited animation format to achieve a greater economy of visual humour and style with a focus on complex dialogue and characterization, complemented by an idiosyncratic intertexuality.” For example, Netflix original animated adult show Big Mouth right from the start of the episode the audience is shown the anatomy of each sex. Unlike non-animated television shows, adult cartoon come across “less serious” and can push the limit of what they can showcase to viewers, because since it’s not using “real people” networks have a little more room to cross the line. A plus side to animated series is, because they can push the envelope they can show more “graphic” aspects that don’t occur on regular television. However, since networks have more room to provide their audience’s with darker humour, the audience can also end up being a little more turned off by the overkill. In all three shows the use of the “F” word was used way too often, that it comes off like the networks are trying to make use of the “F” as normal as the word crap. As for BoJack, the main character is a horse head on a regular humans body. BoJack comes across to the audience as a sex addict who treats girls more like a sex object rather than a living person or animal. Between being show the characters having sex in a certain scene or just by talking about it, it’s easy to see how much animated series can get away with.
Also, when I was watching the three shows I picked up on how fast dialog comes into use between characters and scenes. In the show F is For Family, the family discusses getting a new television in which their younger son ends up breaking. When the family sits down to talk about the issue, fast-talking among characters as well as most of the scene-taking place in their living room. Randell-Moon and Randell explain, “animation style allows for fast-pasted humor and complex comedic sequences which are not typically achievable in live action situational comedies. Where live action production centres on the physical mise-en-scène and the performative aspects of working with actors, animation is able to exploit editing and timing for greater comedic effect such that physical or prop comedy and line delivery can executed in quick succession” (Randell-Moon alt, p.140).
I have to say, while I was watching these cartoons I was a shocked by how much cussing occurred, topics of strong sexualized commentary, and use of stereotyping demographics there were. If any of these three shows were switched to a lived action production, I truly believe the comedy punch lines would be taken too seriously and leave a bad taste in peoples mouths. With that being said, even though I personally cannot stand adult cartoons, the concept completely works; since all this rude comedy takes place in cartoons it is fine, cartoons content isn’t supposed to be taken seriously.
Holly Randell-Moon and Arthur J. Randell, “The Man from Isis: Archer and the Animated Aesthetics of Adult Cartoons” (a chapter in J. Jacobs & S. Peacock, eds., Television aesthetics and Style [New York: Bloomsbury Academic])