adult animated film and tv shows
big mouth (2017 - present)
Big Mouth is a celebratory romp through the ups and downs of adolescence in an American middle school. Similar to Sex Education in its frank discussion of the messier parts of teenage life, the show depicts the confusion and awkwardness felt by Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nick (Nick Kroll) as they attempt to understand their own bodies. The characters’ hormones are personified as large hairy Hormone Monsters: Andrew is hounded by the sex-obsessed Maury (also Kroll), while Connie the Hormone Monstress (the inimitable Maya Rudolph) encourages classmate Jessie (Jessi Klein) to “listen to Lana del Rey on repeat while you cut up all your t-shirts.”
Big Mouth’s celebration of female sexuality is an important and unique feature; in “Girls are Horny Too” a steamy novel prompts Jessie to educate herself about her own sexuality. The show de-stigmatises issues dealt with by many throughout puberty and beyond, as characters such as the Shame Wizard (David Thewlis) and the Depression Kitty (Jean Smart) are portrayed with sensitive humour and encourage discussion of once taboo subjects. With song and dance sequences, bizarre yet touching subplots (class magician Jay has a child with his pillow) and an entire episode dedicated to Planned Parenthood, Big Mouth is a hilarious gem certainly not to be missed.
dream corp llc (2016 - present)
Although Adult Swim is mostly known for the monolith that is Rick and Morty, its reputation amongst its viewers as a network that promotes the subversive and the wacky persists. And for all the right reasons. Beneath the world of Rick and Morty, comes a hidden gem. Dream Corp LLC is everything that you would usually expect from an Adult Swim show. The humour is unconventional, offensive, but most of all it’s unabashedly wonderfully weird.
Plunged into the workplace of a dingy dream therapy lab, like a knock off version of Netflix’s Maniac, we follow the stories of these pseudo-scientists. From the grimy walls, to the flickering lights, the first episode makes you feel like you’re watching a horror more so than a comedy. However, as soon as the actors begin to speak, the dialogue bounces around with a shameless enthusiasm, pulling laughs where you would least expect it. This live-action section of the show is contrasted with the luscious rotoscoped landscapes their patients are plunged into.
Every patient’s experience is different, and at times that means the viewing experience is uncomfortable, unnerving, bewildering. But that also means, if you let it, it can be outright beautiful. This is a show you don’t watch. It’s one you experience.
futurama (1999 - 2013)
Futurama deserves more than the word count for this piece will allow. This show manages to induce innocent laughter, create biting satire and deliver devastating unexpected emotional punches, all at the same time. Its humour is playful and inventive and its characters likable and unforgettable.
Philip J. Fry is a pizza boy in the year 1999, who is frozen on New Year’s Eve only to wake up in the year 3000. There, he meets Leela and Bender, his love interest and best friend respectively and they become members of the Planet Express crew run by Fry’s distant relative Professor Farnsworth. This then leads to a series of comical adventures across time and space. There are a number of memorable episodes which could fill an entire feature, most notably Jurassic Bark, the episode about Fry’s eternally loyal dog Seymour.
One thing I particularly love about Futurama is how selective it is about what has advanced in the distant future and what has not. At one point the crew could be watching a supernova explode from a spaceship and the next Fry could be making popcorn in a very basic microwave.
I guess what I enjoy about Futurama is that it manages to create good comedy without resorting to mean-spirited jokes and shock humour as many adult animated comedy shows do; I assume in an attempt to push the boundaries of what is considered taboo. Futurama is by no means simplistic in its comedy, but it isn’t so complex that it is inaccessible. It’s a sitcom that succeeds in being touching, thoughtful and, above all else, entertaining.
rick and morty (2013 - present)
Rick and Morty may often get referred to as dull, nihilistic and lacking in optimism, but the show is one of the most honest and unapologetic series of the past decade. Its slightly crude animated style, coupled with the setting of a slightly dysfunctional nuclear family and their quirky relatives, provides a central theme that is actually both comforting and familiar.
In an age of Trump, Brexit and runaway politics, the show tackles real world issues head on through dark and witty commentary. The often gross and disturbing outlook of the show’s central characters, is something viewers at times relate with all too well. Who hasn’t struggled with the reality of our world the past few years? Rick and Morty understands but reminds you not to get too bogged down, because in the end nothing matters anyway.
The show’s animated style allows it to go places live action simply can’t without a titanic budget. So dive into alternate dimensions, universes and alien worlds with TV’s most unforgiving grandfather (Rick), and prepare for a far fetched science fiction journey that’s so disconnected from reality you almost overlook the hard hitting social commentary on our own world. Rick and Morty may get to pack up and move to a new universe every time something goes terribly wrong, but their comical shenanigans will make our own universe bearable enough to live in.