I’ve been watching TV all my life, and I have never seen anything like Adventure Time before. Set in the land of Ooo, it’s about, among others, Finn, a human; Jake, a dog; science geek Princess Bubblegum; the wife-seeking Ice King; indie rocker Marceline; the Vampire Queen; talking genderless game system BMO and man voiced gossip-girl Lumpy Space Princess. They have adventures- anything from rescuing princesses to solving murders to killing zombies to being kept awake all night by a scary horse.
It’s ‘technically’ a kids’ show, with an audience that’s about 80% late teenaged and early twenties periphery demographic. But that’s nothing new; everyone knows that young adults love weird cartoons. Attracting the drifting out-of-school-not-into-work audience is one of the easiest things a show can do. Adventure time is something special because it’s keeping them- getting bigger, more popular, and better.
There are two sides to how it’s doing this- the content and the packaging. Packaging, meaning the show’s huge internet presence. The official blog is famous for putting out in depth updates and preview art, there’s also extra you tube videos and a wiki which the show’s creators like to troll- making fake announcements about upcoming voice actors and lying spoilers.
Mainly though, Adventure Time’s just a great show. The cast is big enough to stay interesting and not feel overused; the jokes are well written; the art’s bright and simple except when it’s disturbing and dark. And it gets dark. Not in an insufferable way, and without even a hint of angst, but there have been not-so-subtle hints that the land of Ooo is our own world after a nuclear holocaust. In the season 2 finale Jake and Finn battled a lich (complete with a ragged skinned, semi-pealed skull) in a corpse strewn bomb shelter. Balloon creatures are happy to be allowed to die, when Marceline’s father is summoned out of hell he spends an episode eating souls, and Finn’s had a few episodes centred on the psychological impact of possibly being the only human left alive.
That said, preaching about the dark side of Adventure Time is a foolish enterprise. There’s a good portion of the fan base who watch it high for the sheer stupid crazy rush, and an even bigger group who watch it without drugs for the same reason. Some people hate Adventure Time, and that makes sense…If you’re crazy! (HAH) Go watch it!