The Greatest Television Series Ever CreatedWhatever you think Adventure Time is, you're probably wrong. Or, maybe you're partially right. But it's much more than you think it is. It's more than even I think it is. I've talked about the show before, briefly, but this is so important to me that I have to tell you more.
If you've dismissed it, I want you to forget that. Forget for a minute that the show is wildly popular, forget that it's got a huge following among the Hot Topic crowd. Come at this with an open mind.
Most fans of the show are probably watching it for the weird, random humor. It has that in spades. Outrageous characters like Lemongrab, Xergiok, the Ice King, and Lumpy Space Princess ensure that. And it isn't just for kids, either, or the great John Hodgman wouldn't be a likely choice as a guest voice. But humor is just the hook to draw you in. If humor was the be-all end-all of Adventure Time, I couldn't possibly tell you that it's a better show than, say, Firefly. I wouldn't have watched it nearly every night for the past three years.
This is going to sound like a cliche, but it's true: The show makes me laugh, and it makes me cry. That's no easy thing. It also makes me confused about what I'm supposed to feel, and that's even harder to do.
World-Building and CharactersWhat makes the show so wonderful is the world-building and the characters. A thousand years after an apocalypse hit Earth, the resulting world is what an 11-year-old boy would dream up if he had the most unfettered imagination of any human being, ever. Any kind of person or creature can exist, from the ultra-cute candy people to the stupid goblins to the primitive people with fish for heads, and more. In this post-apocalyptic child's fantasy, there are a lot of light-hearted things, but also very dark things. And sometimes intensely dark things treated with humor. There is a hell called the Nightosphere which looks like Matt Groening's tribute to Hieronymus Bosch.
The way the writers reveal the world, too, is great. They always suggest broad horizons and deep history, much like Tolkien.
The story is told mostly through Finn, a young boy who is a hero. His two greatest desires are to help people with any problem, and to go on adventures and punch evil monsters. Even though he wants to punch evil, he will find a way to help a monster that appears to be evil by looking at the problem in a different way.
But the other characters are often much deeper than they first appear. The apparently ridiculous Ice King, for instance, once said "I have a way tortured past!" It was funny when he said it, but it turns out to be true. A helpless damsel may be a super-genius orchestrating the course of history.
How to Approach ItIf I've sufficiently piqued your interest to give it a shot, I do have a recommendation on how to do so. The show began primarily with world-building and humor, with the depth of character and heartstring-pulling coming in due time. (The episodes are only 11 minutes or so, after all.) If you want to give it a shot, I suggest you do the same, and start with one of these episodes:
- "His Hero"
- "The Enchiridion"
- "To Cut a Woman's Hair"
If you decide you like any of those, then I urge you to start from the beginning and watch them in order. "Simon and Marcy" won't have the same impact if you haven't grown into the characters first.