By: Shay M., Teen Blogger
TV shows are something that have captivated the whole of America ever since their debut after WWII. This phenomenon of short episodes made it easy and accessible for people to catch a bit of entertainment without having to go to the movies, and still gave the viewer something to, well, view, unlike radio shows. This became so popular that shows were coming out for all ages, with cartoons for the children and pretty much everything else for the adults.
This divide of “children’s shows” versus “adult shows” is very apparent in some places. For example, it is unlikely you will find a 60 year old man watching Dora while he enjoys his afternoon tea, nor are five year olds likely to be watching every episode of Game of Thrones. Yet in other situations, the lines become a bit more blurred, and has led to some speculation over what exactly differentiates adult and children’s programming.
A recent trend in cartoons has made this discussion more difficult, where the shows have light and creative premises, aimed to capture kids’ attention, but then they also are willing to get a little dark or explore more heavy and complex subject matter, ranging from loss and complicated love on shows like Steven Universe, to extremely complicated ciphers and puzzles on Gravity Falls. In all these cases, this is still light enough for kids to handle, but it has also drawn many older fans.
The allure of shows like these is that they are simple enough for kids to understand and love, but the writers also add elements which make the shows interesting for teens and even adults. More and more these shows take on issues dealing with society or identity, and they do it in a way that is able to balance the emotional tolls with lightheartedness. Less and less are cartoons purely for kids, and now, they are starting to become something anyone can enjoy.
Even if the premise is something as silly as three bears who travel around by stacking on top of one another, as it is in the show We Bare Bears, they can still attract adult viewers by putting a focus on diverse representation in their show, and also allowing social commentary on things like people’s obsessions with technology. This has also created the ability for parents to get involved in the same shows their kids watch, and can end up with the whole family sitting down to watch the latest episode of Adventure Time.
This kind of mature yet friendly programming is widely popular, and is becoming more and more common as people are realizing that they can put more complex ideas in simple shows. In the end, maybe it will become more common for a 60 year old man to watch cartoons as he enjoys his afternoon tea, although it is probably for the best if five year olds stay away from Game of Thrones.