Not often does a TV show appear that appeals to such a wide audience. Adventure time is watched and enjoyed by children as young as 5 years of age, right up to adults (including me!). The series follows the adventures of Finn (voiced by Jeremy Shada), a human boy, and his best friend and adoptive brother Jake (voiced by John DiMaggio), a dog with magical powers to change shape and grow and shrink at will. Finn and Jake live in the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. Adventure Time was picked up in 2010 by Cartoon Network, after it went viral on the internet and is now into its fifth season.
Adventure Time has proved to be hugely popular and has been nominated for eight Annie Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards with one win, two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, and a Sundance Film Festival Award, among others. In 2013, the series won a Motion Picture Sound Editors Award, and its comic book spin-off won an Eisner Award and two Harvey Awards.
The TV review website AVClub.com (2013) states “with its bright colours and crisp hand-drawn animation, Adventure Time is incredibly visually stimulating, but it’s equally sharp on the sound front thanks to spectacular voice work and earworm musical sequences.”
So popular with adults, Adventure Time boasts many big names willing to be guest voices on the show including Maria Bamford, Andy Samberg, “Weird” Al Yankovic, Paul F. Tompkins, Kumail Nanjiani, and Donald Glover. That’s an astounding lineup of talent, and while those names don’t mean much for kid viewers, the involvement of these comedians has helped make Adventure Time a massive hit among adults (AVClub, para 7, 2013).
Indiewire.com (2013) describes Adventure Time as “irreverent and narratively engaging, it’s the ideal testament to animation’s glorious pliability in an commercial arena otherwise defined by restrictions. With the start of its fifth season last night, Adventure Time once again proves that it’s one of the most inventive shows on television.”
Adventure Time versus The Simpsons
“There are a lot of similarities between early Simpsons and Adventure Time, from the sprawling casts of Springfield and Ooo to the way both series address down-to-earth human problems while taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by animation. In The Simpsons, that means Homer can protect his son by taking a Wile E. Coyote-style fall down the side of a cliff. In Adventure Time, it means Finn struggles with sexual desire by being in a relationship with a girl who he can’t touch because she’s literally on fire.” (AVClub.com 2013).
Adventure Time is one of those rare gems that delights viewers regardless of whether they are still in primary school or married with three kids. Kids and parents will find enjoyment in the adventures of Jake and Finn on different levels. The kids will delight in the quirky, visually appealing antics of two loveable friends, while the adults will marvel at the imagination and social commentary hidden yet blaringly obvious in each episode. Needless to say, viewers can learn a lot here no matter how much life they’ve lived (IndieWire 2013).