So, you’re an adult who likes cartoons. I’m not talking about grown-up cartoons like Rick and Morty or Bojack Horseman, or more mainstream series like Bobs Burgers and The Simpsons. I mean kids cartoons. And if that’s you, welcome to the club. Cartoons are awesome. But when you’re over the age of 18 and still watching episodes of Pokemon people may look at you a little weird. Why? No idea. Perhaps they think cartoons are just for dumb babies (even though you totally aren’t one) or only for adults who never leave their mom’s basement (which is actually fine if you have a good relationship with your mom and she’s not charging you rent — that’s just economics). Perhaps they just don’t know what they’re missing (because they’re the dumb babies). But you know what? Who cares? Here are some perfectly good, iron-clad reasons why you, an actual adult with actual adult responsibilities, should be watching as many cartoons as you want.
Cartoons are art
Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first. Like comic books, graphic novels, and video games, cartoons have always inspired the “is this art?” question. You know what I say to that? Hell yeah. And I’m not just talking about obscure French and Russian animation that you’d watch at your local independent theater (although, to be fair, this cartoon about a hedgehog is bomb), I’m talking about any and all cartoons. Aeon Flux? Art. Adventure Time? Art. Tiny Toons? Absolutely art.
You don’t have to go to a museum or watch Persona to feel like you’ve been exposed to culture. You can just chill at home and watch a few episodes of The Angry Beavers and call it a damn day.
And here’s something else that’s cool: Cartoons employ artists who then get paid for doing what they love. Animation is one of the few art mediums (sorry, interpretive dance) that pays! So, indirectly you’re totally supporting the arts.
Cartoons are often better than what’s on live-action TV:
Obviously there’s some excellent live-action television out there, but for every Fargo and The Walking Dead, there’s a Wicked City (who?). On the other hand, there are many cartoons that have been cultural mainstays for decades. Can you even remember a time when The Simpsons or Looney Tunes weren’t around? What about South Park? That show came out when I was 13 and has been around almost twenty years. And it’s still got some razor-sharp commentary going on that makes it culturally relevant.
What would you rather watch? Whatever Quantico’s supposed to be or a couple of episodes of Kim Possible? Hard choices, right?
Cartoons are short
I know this doesn’t sound like it’s awesome, but hear me out: You’re a busy adult who’s on the go (or, like me, in bed until 2pm), do you really have time to watch a show that’s 58 minutes long without commercial breaks when you get home from work/class? Nah, man, you got stuff to do. What kind of stuff? I don’t know, you tell me. (Or don’t. Nothing wrong with a little mystery!) There’s something I do know, though: With cartoons like Robot Chicken, which don’t need to be watched in order and clock in at less than 15 minutes each, you’re going to have a lot more time to do all that stuff that you’re not telling me about.
Plus, cartoons don’t tax your attention span or make you feel guilty that you’re spending too much time on frivolous pursuits instead of adulting all over the place.
Cartoons will make you come down with a case of all the feels
Do you remember Courage, The Cowardly Dog and how absolutely terrifying it was? What about the sadness you felt along with Helga when you realized that Arnold might never notice how much she loved him? And those feelings of wanting to throw up every time Ren & Stimpy did something absolutely disgusting that would never fly on a live-action show? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. And that’s just scraping the tip of the iceberg!
Let’s talk about Disney cartoons for one second. I’m an adult who watched Frozen for the first time in a room full of other adults that are generally pretty thick-skinned human beings. And, by God, if we all didn’t sigh when Elsa accidentally turned Anna into a block of ice or say “oh hell no!” when that evil prince guy finally revealed that he was a complete and utter monster (sorry for the spoilers). What about Fantasia, which is calculated to make you feel emotions you may not have known you were capable of any longer?
You want to feel some sh*t? Check out this list College Humor put together of the saddest moments in kids’ cartoons. I didn’t even remember that scene where Ash breaks up with Butterfree, but it is a total tearjerker. (Let me be honest with you, though, you should probably not be in a place where other people can judge you when you watch it.) And you know that most of the people watching Legend of Korra are adults, right? I’ve never heard a kid talk about that show, but you couldn’t go a day in college without hearing about it.
Cartoons can be empowering for both kids and adults.
You watch an episode of The Powerpuff Girls and tell me you don’t feel like going out to kick some ass and take names. You may not be a kid anymore, but Recess will still make you want to fight the man even though you basically are the man at this point. Sorry, it’s what happens when you age. But Pepper Ann doesn’t age, and she taught us all about friendship and being different and standing up for yourself. That was awesome.
This song from Adventure Time, for instance, empowered me to make myself some pancakes instead of leaving the house to buy groceries. Thanks, Adventure Time.
You can actually learn some stuff from cartoons
Every pop culture reference my husband knows, he knows from The Simpsons, which he’s been watching since he was a kid. The only reason I know what some countries are and where they’re located on a map is because I’ve watched “Yakko’s World” so many times I can almost recite it by heart. And there’s still a lot of history you can learn from Histeria, which was awesome and will hopefully come to DVD at some point. Oh, and don’t forget Science Court. I hated science in school, but I can still watch that episode about gravity over and over.
You want to learn some fun tidbits you can talk about at parties? Check out the stuff on PBS and Nick Jr. I especially like Arthur because that’s where I learned about half-birthdays and how to be a good friend. (Neither of these things are useful to me, but they’re fun to know!)
Sometimes you just need to keep it simple.
Cartoons for adults are great because they can tell complex stories and blah blah blah. Very important and cool. But sometimes you don’t want any of that. Sometimes you want to turn off your brain, let your eyes glaze over, and watch Ed, Edd n Eddy until you just can’t anymore. Plus, I was just reminded that Bobby’s World exists and that show was awesome. Oh man, so was Rugrats and Doug. Listen, give me a second here, I’m reliving my childhood.
Cartoons can do what live-action shows can’t.
First, writers can dream up anything because there aren’t any real-life barriers to the story. Twelve men painted blue living with one woman inside mushroom houses? That sounds creepy when you think of it as a live-action show, but somehow it’s cute on The Smurfs. So does CatDog, to be honest, but it works as animation!
Also, I’d never really thought about the whole growing up issue before talking to the creator of the show, but it’s pretty awesome that Bob’s Burgers has given us six Thanksgiving episodes of Louise, Gene, and Tina being the same age. Can you imagine how boring it might be if this were live-action and they were suddenly corny college kids? No thanks. Boy Meets World and Sister, Sister got significantly worse when the main characters decided to invest in higher education. Tommy Pickles, Doug Funnie, and Ash Ketchum? They’ll never have to suffer the same fate.
Because you’re an adult, so you actually get to decide what’s cool to watch.
This is basically the only advantage to being an adult. You may not be able to eat sugary cereal for breakfast every morning, and you may have to go to work every day, but you can also decide what you do with your free time. And if that includes repeated viewings of Johnny Bravo? Fine. That doesn’t define you. It just means you like Johnny Bravo.
Look, foreign films and Planet Earth may be great, but you can’t watch Downton Abbey all the time. Sometimes you need to get silly with Spongebob or remember how much being a teen sucked with Daria. All of that is okay and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Like ever.