The past few years have been the renaissance years for the erstwhile niche genre of adult animation. The genre of adult cartoons or mature animation (no, it’s not what you think it is!), is loosely defined as “any type of animated motion work that is mainly targeted towards adults and older adolescents, as opposed to children or all-ages audiences.”
Animated series like South Park, Futurama, Family Guy, Robot Chicken and even The Simpsons long held the banner for this genre. However, driven by the original programming push from streaming giants like Netflix, adult animation is going mainstream faster than you can sing ‘Spiderpig! Spiderpig!’.
So let’s look at the latest list of top 5 adult animation shows you can stream in India, and quickly cover 5 all-time greats! Here goes:
1. BoJack Horseman (Netflix Original)
The show’s starting premise deals with the attempts of a washed up TV star BoJack Horseman as he tries to revive his celebrity status by writing a tell-all biography. Set in an anthropomorphic world co-habited by animals and humans alike – BoJack is a Mad Men-like study into the self-destructive nature of the protagonist which is ridiculously self-aware and hilarious!
BoJack starts off as a character that you don’t (and possibly shouldn’t) relate to, feeding off the flotsam and jetsam of lives of the people he ends up intentionally and unintentionally destroying – be it a cat publicist, a Labrador fake best friend, an Asian-American girlfriend or a freeloading weed-smoking slacker with ‘ideas’. The show starts shaky, but by the end of the first season, finds a semblance of an emotional core. Oh yeah, Quentin Tarantino is a spider in this universe!
BoJack is an exercise which is equal parts a reflection on society, a satire, a relationship study and a story of redemption. And by the time Season 4 comes around, the show is ready to confidently shed its irreverence for introspection. It works beautifully and that’s why BoJack Horseman tops this list.
2. Rick and Morty (Adult Swim/Streaming on Netflix India)
Of all the shows that make it to the top 5 Dan Harmon’s (creator of Community) Rick and Morty is perhaps the most popular and mainstream – inadvertently causing Szechuan sauce riots in McDonalds in the United States. Rick and Morty revolves around the adventures of its titular characters and members of their family. Rick is an eccentric, alcoholic and a mad scientist who takes his grandson Morty, into dangerous adventures across time, space, parallel universes and dimensions. Morty, however is essentially kind and possesses a moral compass that stands in contrast to Rick’s massive ego.
The show is both funny, imaginative and extremely binge-able. In many ways Rick and Morty is an amalgamation of Back to the Future and Doctor Who – with a sense of self-awareness and world-weariness. The show is imaginative in the way it deals with science-fiction tropes and occasionally subverts them. Much like BoJack Horseman – Rick and Morty finds its voice in the latest season – and ends at a note that’s more contemplative and leaves you wanting for more.
3. Final Space (TBS/Streaming on Netflix India)
Final Space, while not that popular yet, is a solid animated science-fiction comedy show for adults. Produced by famous talk show host Conan O’Brien, the show is centred around an emotionally stunted astronaut Gary GoodSpeed. Gary, lands up in space jail, thanks to a goof-up while trying to hit on a girl, and just as he’s about to finish his prison sentence, he encounters and befriends Mooncake – a cute, cuddly, planet destroying alien. Gary, Mooncake and his eventual assorted group of friends, including the prison ship’s AI, H.U.E., set out to save the universe against the evil Lord Commander’s machinations.
Final Space’s first season plays out much like Guardians of the Galaxy, with evil space-faring robots, anthropomorphic aliens, slave legions and adventures galore. What stands out however, is the depth of the narrative style and refreshing change from the over cynical point-of-view that shows like Rick and Morty bring to the table. Hope, however deeply hidden, always remains in Final Space – even when the emotional stakes get high.
It is also a visual treat for most part.
4. Adventure Time (Cartoon Network/Streaming on Netflix India)
It’s difficult to explain the charm of Adventure Time – which is basically an adult animated series, hiding in the garb of a children’s one on Cartoon Network. Set in post-apocalyptic but magical Land of Ooo, the show follows the adventures of Finn, a boy and his adoptive magical dog brother Jake. They get into adventures and quests intentionally, often with the intention of winning Princess Bubblegum’s graces. Adventure Time is a magical, trippy and hilarious 15 minute capsules of fantastic and imaginative, entertainment.
5. F is for Family (Netflix Original)
While many would be familiar with American Dad or The Family Guy in the sub-genre of American family driven adult cartoons, F is for Family, the newest addition to that genre, is by far the most superior. Starring comedian Bill Burr in the leading role, the show, set in the 70s, follows the story of Francis X – a disillusioned, short-tempered Irish-American war veteran and his family.
Sarcastic, sad and dark – F is for Family, however, retains its emotional core always. The show’s balancing act of family and period (70s) drama with the disenchantment of the American dream is a considerable feat and I personally cannot wait for season 3 to come around.
Well now that we are done with the top 5 latest ones – let’s round up the other 5 must watch adult animated comedies from series gone by (and still on).
- Archer: Come for the James Bond parody – stay for the dark interpersonal humour.
- South Park: Essential, classic and twisted – it’s amazing how topical and relevant Cartman, Kenny, Stan and Kyle’s foul-mouthed adventures still are.
- Space Ghost Coast to Coast: The best talk show parody ever. You remember Space Ghost from his Hanna-Barbera superhero days, so now prepare to see him as a bumbling, fumbling talk show host in space.
- Bob’s Burgers: While I’ve personally not gotten on the Bob’s Burgers hype train as much, there are those who swear by the burger selling misadventures of the Belcher family.
- The Boondocks: Racial and political commentary aside, The Boondocks, a story about a black family settling into a primarily white neighborhood is absolutely insane, unapologetic and hilarious to watch.
Think we missed out on any latest or classic hidden gems in the genre? Let us know in the comments!