Long gone are the days where cartoons were strictly reserved for small children and hazy late–night re–runs. In the last decade or so, comedic adult–oriented animation has been on the rise, and for good reason, too. Combining whimsical animation styles with adult subject matter and humor produces a seemingly contradictory form of entertainment. But opposites are sometimes better together than they are apart. So if you're in the mood for the sweet–and–salty mix that is adult animation, check out these ten shows that do it best.
Just the idea of a talking, has–been actor/horse is enough to hook me to a TV show, but BoJack Horseman goes above and beyond its already comical premise. The show follows BoJack as he attempts to maintain his relevance within the entertainment industry. Its strength comes from its ability to comically maneuver through tough topics like addiction, racism, depression and trauma—all while featuring a recurring golden retriever/politician named Mr. Peanut Butter.
2. South Park
Set in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, the show follows best friends Stan, Kyle, Eric and Kenny as they live their lives as average, American fourth graders. Much like The Simpsons, South Park satirically tackles a wide array of topics ranging from American politics to environmentalism and global warming. The cutesy animation of short and stout characters makes for a contrast that is as striking as it is hilarious.
The Boondocks follows Robert Freeman and his two grandchildren, brothers Huey and Riley Freeman. Living in the fictional, all–white suburban town of Woodcrest, the family embarks on misadventures that offer a comedic perspective on the young, black experience that you don't find too often in adult animation.
Rick Sanchez is a time–travelling mad scientist who happens to be the smartest person in the universe. He lives with his daughter, Beth Smith, and her family, including his grandson, Morty Smith. Rick and Morty split their time between inter–dimensional adventures and navigating through their turbulent home lives. Rick's cynicism about, well, everything, and Morty's naive but uplifting sentiments work to make for the funniest grandpa–grandson relationship on TV.
In the far away kingdom of Dreamland lives a magical elf (appropriately named Elfo), an alcoholic and rebellious princess named Bean, and Luci, Bean's demon companion. The show follows this funky trio as they attempt to escape their respective versions of hell. For Bean, that's her overbearing and angry father, King Zog. For Elfo, that's his secluded and candy–filled home, the elf realm. For Luci, it's literally just hell.
6. Big Mouth
If you're squeamish, this may not be the show for you. Big Mouth follows the lives of tween middle–schoolers, Nick and Andrew, as they begin their respective journeys into the terrifying world that is puberty. Filled to the brim with hormone monsters, first kisses, and various, unspeakable bodily fluids, Big Mouth will have you laughing and cringing in equal measure.
This show lives in a gray area, as it's appropriate for both children and adults. Known for it's colorful characters, adoptive brothers—blue cat, Gumball and orange fish, Darwin Watterson—and a variety of animation styles, this show offers surface–level shock–humor that appeals to kids. But it also deeply develops its anarchic characters, and is clever enough for adults to enjoy.
A spin—off of another great adult animation, Beavis and Butt–Head, Daria follows Daria Morgendorffer, a smart, cynical teen living in the American suburban town of Lawndale. The show focuses on Daria's life as a high school student and largely takes place at her school where she must deal with a multitude of her dysfunctional peers, along with the idyllic values of suburbia. As the show bases its humor on criticizing American culture and social classes, who better to do just that than a bored and angsty teenage girl?
Bob's Burgers follows middle–aged restaurant owner, Bob Belcher, his wife, Linda, and their three kids, Tina, Gene, and Louise. Bob is obsessed with his restaurant and creating daily hamburger specials with catchy nicknames and unique recipes. Linda is a loud–mouthed, wine–drinking Mom who loves poking fun at, literally, everything. Tina is awkward and going through puberty, Gene is a Mama's boy who loves his keyboard, and Louise is a diabolical genius expertly hidden behind a set of cute, pink bunny ears. If you enjoy puns, deadpan humor, or creative musical numbers—this show is for you.
This one is just a classic. The Simpsons has been running longer than most of us have been alive, which has to speak to its quality. The show focuses on the lives of Homer Simpson, his wife, Marge, and their three kids, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The yellow–skinned family lives in the fictional town of Springfield, where they live as a common working–class family. The show pokes fun at at American culture, society and the working–class family dynamic. Known for it's large supporting cast, A–list guest stars, and ability to predict the future, The Simpsons is definitely worth revisiting.