Cartoon Network: The King of Television Animation Part 1


News Editor, Sydney Woodward.

Sydney Woodward, News Editor

The way to make a good children’s cartoon is to make it not only appeal to children, but to adults as well. I feel like Cartoon Network has this idea embedded in the very company except for one particular show but I’ll get to that later. Since the release of Adventure Time and Regular Show in 2010 Cartoon Network has been only going in the direction of up with only minor bumps in the road, which is to be expected.


Here is the breakdown:


Adventure Time is about the adventures of a boy named Finn The Human and his magical shapeshifting dog named Jake, exploring the post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo. They meet characters such as Princess Bubblegum, the ruler of the candy kingdom, The Ice King, Marceline The Vampire Queen, and many others along the way. The first four seasons of Adventure Time are actually quite good and have a whimsical charm to it. While some might just dismiss this as a silly cartoon, there are some unexpectedly serious moments amongst the jokes, such as with the Ice King and Marceline. Seasons five and six were mostly mixed with episodes that were good, bad, or just confused. However, with season seven hot on the heels of the new miniseries “Stakes”, Adventure Time seems to be coming back to it’s old roots.


The next show is Regular Show, about the daily lives of two friends-Mordecai, a blue jay, and Rigby, a raccoon. They work as groundskeepers at a state park and spend their days trying to avoid work and entertain themselves by any means. This is much to the annoyance of their manger Benson, a gumball machine, and their coworker Skips, a yeti, but to the delight of their other manager/boss Pops, an old man with a lollipop for a head. They also work with a man named Muscle Man who is an overweight green man, a ghost named Hi Five Ghost, and later Thomas, the park’s intern and a goat. This show has a lot more adult humor than Adventure Time-this could be due to the two main characters being 23 years old. They do cuss in the first few episodes-nothing too profane, just enough to make this geared more to adults. Despite the title, this show is very strange; that doesn’t make it bad, just interesting. They had a few bumps with the last half of season six but other than that it’s a great show. Both this show and Adventure Time are the longest running original shows in Cartoon Network’s history with seven seasons and an eighth season for each in the works.


The third show is called The Amazing World of Gumball which revolves around the life of a 12 year old blue cat named Gumball Watterson and his problems in the fictional town of Elmore. He usually is accompanied by his former pet goldfish turned adopted brother Darwin and others. Most of the show takes place at Gumball’s school where he interacts with his middle school classmates including his crush (and later girlfriend) named Penny. One of the best things about this show is the animation. The show utilizes all kind of styles and techniques, including hand-drawn animation, puppetry, realistic CGI, stop motion, and real still shots of actual places. The comedy in this show is some of the best on Cartoon Network right now, especially the dynamic of Gumball’s family. It’s not one of the most serious shows on Cartoon Network but it’s definitely one of the most underrated.


The next show is called Uncle Grandpa. Uncle Grandpa is the uncle and grandpa of every person and thing in the world. He frequently travels around the world with his talking fanny pack, his dinosaur bodyguard Mr.Gus, a talking pizza slice named Pizza Steve, and his Giant Realistic Flying Tiger helping others in need. The fact that this character is somehow everybody’s uncle and grandpa is weird enough but that’s the only opinion I have on this show. It hasn’t been bad enough to feel like my intelligence has been insulted like another show on Cartoon Network but it isn’t substantial enough to deserve praise. I’d say if it weren’t for one other show on the network, it would probably be Cartoon Network’s weakest show even though it’s not that bad.


Now we come to the best show on Cartoon Network: Steven Universe. I could go on forever about this show. In Beach City, the Crystal Gems live in an ancient beach side temple, protecting the world from evil. Ageless alien warriors, they project light-weight female humanoid forms from magical gemstones that are the core of their being. The four Crystal Gems are Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl and Steven, a young half-human, half-Gem boy who inherited his gemstone from his mother, the Crystal Gems’ former leader Rose Quartz. As Steven tries to figure out his powers, he explores the abilities passed down to him by his mother, which include fusion, the ability of Gems to merge their bodies and abilities to form new and more powerful personalities. The first season is mainly about Steven learning of his abilities and trying to become a valued member of The Crystal Gems. The best part of this season is that it feels like we are learning alongside Steven about the life he was born into. The second season feels like Steven is more of an equal with the gems. This show also incorporates same sex relationships. Three other things I really love about this show is the music, how progressive it is, and the characters. The characters are so well written in this show. It truly feels like no character is inherently evil but no character is completely pure either. I would definitely recommend this show to everyone. 


The next show is called Mixels.  Mixels involves many different, fun-loving tribes – each tribe having a different color scheme – who inhabit a fantasy land of adventure and wonder. They can mix (combining two Mixels), max (combining all three Mixels of the same tribe), and murp (when a mix goes horribly wrong) in all kinds of situations, using the mysterious cubits. All that stands in their way are the small, evil, discolored Nixels led by the tall King Nixel. This show is based off a toy line by Lego. Unlike Lego’s two previous shows that use CGI, this show uses standard 2D animation. The whole concept of three little monsters fusing is great, especially since this is a Lego cartoon. Compared to the shows before it, Mixels comes off as trying to be a Cartoon Network great but falls short.


The seventh show in Cartoon Network’s lineup is called Clarence. It’s a very simple show with a very simple premise. It is about a little boy named Clarence having fun with his two best friends, Jeff and Sumo. This show is very simple but it is also very relatable as well. I remember watching an episode and being like “yeah I did that as kid. I had really good times as a kid.” It brings back a whole wave of nostalgia for older viewers. While some parts may be slightly unrelatable (i.e. filling a pinata with bees) other parts like visiting an indoor playground in a fast food place, taking a class field trip to the zoo, and making friends with someone of the opposite gender are extremely relatable. Similiar Steven Universe, it is also very progressive in the fact one of the main characters named Jeff has two moms. Clarence is also a nice slice of life show in the midst of crazy adventures and strange magical occurrences in Cartoon Network’s current shows. It’s the perfect show for taking it nice and easy for a long while.


The last show in Cartoon Network’s original programming list is called We Bare Bears. It is about three adoptive bear brothers named Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear and their attempts to integrate into human society such as buying food, making human friends, or trying to become internet famous. Although they struggle due to humans civilized nature and their own animal instincts. At the end of the day, they realize they have each other for support. There is one word that can properly describe this show and that is cute. They each have their own personalities which make them lovable in their own way. These bears occasionly spendiong time with their friend Chloe, who is a 12 year old Korean girl who attends college. When they are with her it’s like she’s the little sister to the three brothers. Sometimes they even cut to stories of the bears as babies trying to find their place in this world. We Bare Bears also uses a lot of modern technology and slang that we use currently. For example they use the word meme which is something I haven’t heard before in a kids show, they snap selfies at least once an episode, they have their own version of YouTube, etc.. This show is so much of time capsule of the 2010’s and it gets it right by the fact that unlike some 80’s and 90’s shows that make us cringe at their outdated slang and technology when people come back to watch this show in 10 or 20 years they’ll laugh and say this is what the 2010’s were all about. 

Next I’ll be talking about all the shows Cartoon Network acquired from other companies.