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Four Cartoons You Should Watch

posted Jan 6, 2013, 4:51 PM by samantha@filmmusicmedia.com

One of my pet peeves is when people disregard cartoons as some childish and subpar form of entertainment. Just because you watched so much Dora the Explorer with your kid that you have an aneurysm whenever you see someone with a bowl cut doesn't mean you're allowed to write off the genre as a whole. And, yes, it's really annoying when frat boys won't stop quoting South Park constantly but, again, boldly declaring "Cartoons are for immature dudebros who wear Axe" only makes you look narrow minded.

Since I’m someone who watches more cartoons than live action television shows, I feel like I’m more than qualified to offer some recommendations. I'll stick with shows currently airing because we'll be here all day if I start forcing you to watch cartoons of Adult Swim's past. Seriously though, watch Harvey Birdman and Space Ghost. And Sealab 2021. And Frisky Dingo. Okay, okay I'll stop and get on with the actual list.



Archer: In the words of the creators, Archer is James Bond meets Arrested Development. Which should be enough to get you to watch, but I'll expand on it anyway. It's from the writers of the gone-too-soon Frisky Dingo and focuses on eternal manchild Sterling Archer, who is a spy that works for his overbearing mother. The show’s fast-paced comedy thrives on dark humor (really, really dark humor) and is littered with some surprisingly great action scenes. There's also a fantastic cast: H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell and Arrested Development alums Jessica Walter and Judy Greer. I cannot praise Archer enough, it's a great show that needs more recognition. Start from the beginning on this one, because some of the best jokes come from callbacks to previous episodes.



Bob's Burgers: Another show that needs more love where the main character is voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. This one is set up like your average sitcom about a family who runs a small burger business...only the entire family is filled with callous eccentric weirdos. I like this one because literally every character in the Belcher family is strange in their own way. There's no character that's any less funny than the other (unlike, say, Meg from Family Guy). I especially love the oldest child, Tina, if only because she's one of the first characters I've seen that portrays the awkward-erotic-fanfic-writing-internet-loving teenage girl that's been emerging since the internet became popular. Oh, and did I mention they are doing a crossover scene with Archer? Because they are. Which is awesome.



American Dad: This show's been around for years so it's a bit ridiculous that I still have to recommend it to other people. I find this to be the best of Seth MacFarlane's shows these days because it's really hit its stride over the last few years. At its start the show was mostly focused on Republican Stan Smith butting heads with his left wing daughter Haley, but over time it became more of an ensemble effort where most of the plots aren't quite so politically centered. It's stepped out of Family Guy's enormous shadow and became a show that relies less on cutaway gags and overly long jokes and more on humor centered around characterization and plot elements. Don't get me wrong, the show still takes refuge in audacity, but at the moment I find the Smith family to be more cohesive and better written than the Griffin family. Stan is a great lead character who is both an idiot and yet competent at his job in the CIA and when the shift focuses to another member of the Smith family I don't get bored or find the show any less funny. There's also the fact that the alien Roger is currently my favorite character on any television show airing right now. Plus you get to regularly hear Patrick Stewart say stupid things on the show. What's not to love about that?



Gravity Falls: The only show on this list that is actually meant for children. Don't let it put you off though, Gravity Falls has plenty for everyone to enjoy. The show's about 12-year-old twins Mabel and Dipper Pines who are sent to the small town of Gravity Falls to live with their great uncle Stan for the summer. They are quick to discover that Gravity Falls isn't a normal town whatsoever, rather a nexus for all things weird and supernatural. Not only is the humor fast-paced and surprisingly witty for a show meant for children, but there's a ton of jokes meant for an older crowd. Also, unlike most children's shows, there's an actual ongoing plot about Dipper unlocking the mysteries of Gravity Falls. Plus there's tons of throwbacks to previous episodes. I'm a sucker for callbacks so I about squeed myself to death when one episode involved time travel and going back to scenes from previous episodes. Get off your high horse and give the show a shot, seriously.

Okay, maybe this will do nothing to convince you to actually watch these shows or even appreciate the genre as a whole. But hopefully I've managed to convince you that those of us that do watch animated shows are not, in fact, cretins that can't appreciate "grown up" TV. Save your judgment for people that actually deserve it. Like people who still watch Glee.