Just like superheroes, video games and all our favourite nerdy hobbies of yesteryear, cartoons are making a serious comeback — except this time they’ve grown up alongside us.
Adult cartoons are bigger and better than ever. No longer are they the vestige of geeky folks holed up in their rooms, because they’ve hit the mainstream in a big way.
They’re not just for kids anymore. Check out some of the best adult cartoons on Stan now.
But a lot of people don’t really get the appeal, which is a damn shame for all involved because they’re missing out on some really great television. And why? Is it because they think they’ve outgrown cartoons?
With brand new series Infinity Train – an Owen Dennis series tackling issues many cartoons shy away from – having dropped over the weekend, we’re revisiting adult cartoons with a new perspective. A perspective that says you can’t outgrow cartoons — you just appreciate them differently.
Don’t believe me? Here’s why.
1. They’re, well, adult
There’s something wildly appealing about hearing dirty jokes and adult themes come from the mouth of a cartoon. It’s a juxtaposition that is a little disconcerting at first, but it’s inherently funny and straight up adds to the inherent absurdity of the cartoons themselves.
Take South Park, for example. It’s one of the longest running ‘adult’ cartoons, and it sure as hell is NOT for children. It has a cult following and has done for years. Why? Because they’re politically incorrect in an overly-PC world, which is confronting yet hilarious, and, above all, they’re timely as hell. Each episode is written, recorded, animated and delivered in six days, meaning they’re able to jump on current news and events in a way other shows just can’t.
2. They’re weirdly comforting
When you’re feeling like a relaxing, easily-digestible and comforting watch, there is no better offering on television than a good cartoon. It’s something that doesn’t really have a tangible explanation, but whenever I feel unwell, tired, hungover or run down, popping on a cartoon revitalises me.
And the fact that they are cartoons means that the absurd, fever dream-type delirious states that being a bit out of it can get you in – well, it only enhances the experience. Watching real world drama can be exhausting at the best of times. Watching Adventure Time? Energising and soothing.
3. They’re nostalgic as hell
We GREW UP on this shit. Watching cartoons as an adult imbues you with that same sort of childish wonder and amusement that occupied our brains for hours at a time while our parents were off doing adult things.
And it’s the same even if you’re not watching a cartoon designed exclusively for adults. Spongebob, for example, will always hold a bizarre square-shaped space in my heart for being a formative part of my childhood, and hell yeah, that theme song gets me every damn time.
Besides, now that we’re all grown up, some of the show’s themes are really relevant to the lives we’re now living. From nosey neighbours to annoying colleagues at work and an overbearing boss, it’s relatable as heck. (Side note: I hope my boss doesn’t fire me after reading this, she’s actually great and I’m talking about past jobs.)
4. They’re able to satirise more openly
Let’s face it: our world right now is kind of a shambles. Whether you’re (rightfully) terrified about climate change or you’re bracing for the next ridiculous tweet from a certain ex-reality TV star currently in power, it’s hard to tell the satire from reality in the real world, let alone fiction.
But cartoons can push the limit far more than any real world television show can, and make it really blatantly obvious that it’s satirical. Shows like Our Cartoon President can legitimately push the envelope and satirise directly, which is all the more important nowadays.
5. They’re a break from reality
On the topic of our ridiculous real world, it’s really important to have a show that you can turn to for a break – from personal dramas, from your stressful day, from everything. Even if it’s just a quick episode of Regular Show instead of your regular life.
And cartoons really do allow that kind of escape. It’s even been said that escaping into a cartoon can help achieve behavioural activation, which is a type of therapy that sees you embracing the aspects of your life that make you feel positive.
6. They speak to real issues
Despite being all cute and stylistic in cartoon form, adult cartoons deal with real-world themes and serious topics in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being lectured at. Even better? It makes difficult themes easy to digest and, well, actually entertaining.
Take Infinity Train for example. This is a show that deals with divorce, miscommunication, getting lost and how difficult it can be for women in STEM — and yet we can take it all in because it’s mixed with just a dash of abstract, bizarre cartoon weirdness. Hell yeah.
Still unconvinced? Have a squiz at Infinity Train now that it has dropped on Stan. This is a series that has all things dark and creepy, while still holding a lot of heart — all packaged in a neat cartoon bow.
Lean into that cartoon life.