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Understanding the lure of adult cartoons

Many people are drawn to adult cartoons for their lovable characters, senses of humor and the way they depict sensitive topics.
Many people are drawn to adult cartoons for their lovable characters, senses of humor and the way they depict sensitive topics.

Adult cartoons and animated shows are often called “bad” media due to pre-decided notions about animated shows. Regardless of this, you’ll find the average college student repeatedly returning to shows like “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” day after day. 

These shows combine the child-like wonder that comes with animation with mature humor, giving them a unique quality that taps into a new market in the media industry. 

These seemingly simple shows often have complex themes and plots that touch on various issues that teenagers, college students and adults can all relate to, making these cartoons “binge-worthy” shows where around 62% of viewers watch three or more episodes in one sitting. 

Quinn Classen, a junior software engineer major, has learned to appreciate the overlooked details in modern adult cartoons. 

“For shows like ‘BoJack Horseman,’ some episodes in there are extremely well thought out and very valid critiques of modern society with masks of satire and comedy,” Classen said. “This is an inherently complex and elegant way to approach issues like that.” 

What separates adult cartoons from live-action are the added affordances that come with animation. Creators can design unusual scenarios to demonstrate real-world situations without being limited by human actors. 

For example, in “South Park,” some episodes travel into the human imagination, where viewers can see different personified elements of the human subconscious battling issues of morality. 

“Animation affords a lot of other possibilities for modes of communication and getting an emotion across,” Classen said. “For example, how you animate certain actions can promote a certain reaction to them that you can’t always achieve with live action.”

Some adult cartoons have more than 20 seasons and an extensive array of lovable characters, causing extreme audience loyalty. Turning on “Futurama”  or “Archer” as a comfort show to wind down after a long day has become the norm for many students here at Miami. 

Engaging with media is the key to understanding the lure of adult cartoons. The minor details, easter eggs throughout episodes and jokes that are only truly funny to long-time viewers make these shows genuinely worth watching. 

Michael Makee, a first-year marketing major, has watched all 26 seasons of “South Park.” He said his familiarity with the characters and plot keeps him coming back to rewatch episodes.

People who want to start watching adult cartoons should be open-minded to the themes and humor many of these shows contain. Taking more sensitive topics displayed playfully with a grain of salt is the best way to consume this media. 

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“Starting to watch adult cartoons can seem weird to some people, but try not to be discouraged by some of the stigmas surrounding some of the shows,” Makee said. “For all you know, you may find your new favorite show.”