Redbrick’s TV Editor’s share the cartoons they keep coming back to
Molly Schoenfeld – Family Guy
I usually dislike using the term ‘guilty pleasure’ when it comes to TV or film: if you enjoy watching something, why not tell the world? Family Guy is perhaps the exception to this rule. The jokes are often so outrageous that you are forced to curl up into a ball on the sofa. Unexpectedly, however, this is what makes the show so addictive (trust me: I accidentally switched on an episode in 2018 and have not stopped watching it since).
One of the best things about this show is the myriad of wonderfully peculiar characters. There is Peter Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), a lovable oaf with a rock-bottom IQ, along with the rest of his family and friends living in the American town of Quahog. My personal favourite character has to be the baby, Stewie Griffin (Seth MacFarlane), whose frequent attempts at matricide and high-brow cultural tastes never fail to make me chuckle (click here to watch a laugh-out-loud sketch involving Stewie and the film Dan In Real Life). In a very ‘British’ fashion, the innuendoes are exquisitely corny, such as this masterpiece.
Family Guy is a must-see for any TV or film lover given that it contains many metafictional cut-away scenes and parodies. Indeed, the purpose of Family Guy is to make fun of the clichés and tropes of regular entertainment. For example, it imagines a version of Dirty Dancing where Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) is imprisoned for having a relationship with 16-year-old Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey), which is probably the more appropriate ending, to be honest. Additionally, Family Guy is self-referential and breaks the fourth wall on a number of occasions, adding another layer of comedy.
Family Guy has certainly been the subject of controversy with its very dark humour and extreme plots. Yet, the show still seems to be untouchable: Seth MacFarlane stated, ‘Animation is weirdly protected in this little bubble because there isn’t a specific face to it. You can’t send Peter Griffin an angry tweet — he doesn’t exist.’ Also, as Peter actually says in one episode, if you don’t like the show, turn it off. And most people don’t.
Family Guy is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
Sian Allen – Gravity Falls
Anyone currently mourning their lost summer this year should consider taking a trip to Gravity Falls. Described as ‘part Simpsons, part X-Files and Twin Peaks’, everybody who loves compelling mysteries, memorable characters and charming humour will love this gem of a TV show.
Gravity Falls follows twins Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal) as they’re sent to spend their summer at their Great-Uncle Stan’s (Alex Hirsch) tourist trap. Guided by a journal Dipper finds hidden in the woods, they explore the strange town of Gravity Falls, solving its many mysteries and uncovering its natural magnetism for weirdness. It has a somewhat universal appeal, with clever writing and humour that appeals to all ages.
For me, Gravity Falls perfectly captures the feeling of summer in the same way that miniseries Over The Garden Wall (which is also excellent) is a beautiful ode to Autumn. It uses its younger target audience to its advantage, translating to screen all the awkwardness and anxieties we all feel as pre-teens on the verge of discovering who we actually are. We can all empathise with Dipper and Mabel, uncertain of the future but glad to have each other. It is their sibling relationship that gives the show a unique and authentic heart, likely due to its basis on creator Alex Hirsch’s own relationship with his twin sister Ariel.
If the wonderful, loveable characters of Gravity Falls don’t sell you on it, there also happens to be a seriously compelling mystery at the heart of the show, expertly foreshadowed and delicately crafted over the course of two great seasons. The series is equal parts silly, spooky and smart. It has fantastic villains you love to hate, beautiful animation, and an awesome mythology you will find yourself awed by. Plus, it has a really banging theme song. Need I go on?
I was very glad to be able to revisit Gravity Falls this summer. It is a show that stays with you, and one I am always eager to recommend. So, go searching for that exciting youthful summer feeling again – it’s out there, somewhere in the woods, waiting.
Gravity Falls is available to watch on Disney+.
Sam Wait – SpongeBob SquarePants
It is almost impossible to avoid SpongeBob SquarePants, with countless reruns being shown on Nickelodeon daily, a strew of its obnoxiously yellow merchandise filling shopping centres and a running time of over 20 years. The show’s longevity and iconic reputation is a testament to its quality – which, granted, does deteriorate during the show’s latest episodes. However, this is forgivable for a show surmounting of 262 episodes. Though the show needs no preface, for the sake of anyone who has been living like Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke), SpongeBob SquarePants follows the sea sponge SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and his friends’ antics in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom.
SpongeBob SquarePants’ longevity and iconic reputation is a testament to its quality
SpongeBob has clearly been created with a dual audience in mind, as its comedy is aimed at adults as well as children. SpongeBob’s comedy is laced with irony, character-centred humour and innocence, which makes the subtle humour aimed at adults all the funnier. The dead-pan jokes and sarcasm of Squidward (Rodger Bumpass) is reminiscent of the grumpy adults we have become, whereas SpongeBob and Patrick’s personalities reflect the gleeful naivety of children. This is probably best exemplified when Spongebob asks ‘What could be better than serving up smiles?’ And Squidward promptly replies ‘being dead, or anything else.’
Whether it’s because Patrick is asking whether mayonnaise is an instrument, Squidward is getting attacked by a sea bear or Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) is having a panty raid (yes, this is a children’s programme) SpongeBob SquarePants is a timeless classic which is bound to make you laugh. The brilliantly simplistic animation style allows for these surreal instances of comedy, making this show a must-watch. Not only will it have you laughing, but you’ll finally be able to understand the quotes people have been repeating from it for years.
Spongebob Squarepants is available to watch on Netflix.