So around a couple years ago I saw this
I thought it was a pretty brilliant little short surreal comedy. Plus, it had a magic dog voiced by Bender which was pretty sweet. That’s about all I thought about it until last week, when I found out that apparently it’s been picked up by Cartoon Network because Nickleodeon are too dumb to see glittering comedy gems.
Put simply, Adventure Time is about Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. They live somewhere in a tree and go on adventures to places that are near them. What makes the show is the incredible dedication to crafting exquisitely absurd situations and characters. One episode starts off with Finn asking Jake if he’d ever wondered what a demon heart looks like, then if he ever wondered what one tastes like. Jake’s answer: “Of course, man.” It ends with Finn and Jake stopping a meteor from killing a tower full of wizards.
In another Finn and Jake attempt to help a weeping mountain feel better by making the viking village at the base stop roughhousing and start petting each other, and luckily the vikings are super into it.
But I don’t just love this show for the absurd inventiveness on display. There’s more to being surreal than being “random”. Things need to feel true. This is where a lot of the show’s humor and intelligence come from the use of patently absurd situations to present reasonable solutions to tough problems in a manner that makes it seem cool instead of just proper. Most of the episodes have some morality play elements, but they’re worked in cleverly enough and the situational parallels are ridiculous enough to make it entertaining to watch. It also helps that when there is a lesson it isn’t usually “you need to behave exactly like this to be a good person” so much as it is “try to be excellent to each other”. The morals feel less like they’re laying out a set of rules for you to follow, and more like they’re showing you how Finn and Jake dealt with this and asking you to think about what might be a solution that works for you.
Another nice thing about the show is that Finn and Jake interact more believably than basically any pair of friends I’ve seen presented on television. They have something of the quality JD and Turk had on Scrubs on the best of days, only way less annoying and more awesome.
This is a show that respects the audience. It trusts you to follow the weird trains of thought it runs down and it doesn’t condescend. It has that rare Pixar-movie quality of being completely accessible to children while not boring adults or speaking down to either group. You should check it out whenever you get a chance!