Beyond the Simpsons: adult cartoons surge in popularity with fans

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By Tyler Davidson

By Tyler Davidson

At the tail end of 1989, a television show debuted on the Fox network, which at the time, had only been around for three short years.

That show? Just a silly little cartoon called “The Simpsons.” An alternative to the wholesome Looney Toons and other “childrens” cartoons.

“The Simpsons” were a dysfunctional family, complete with an obese, beer-swilling father who would be known as Homer, and a mischievious hellion of a child that would come to be known as Bart.

It was not without controversy, however. Parents’ groups spoke out against the Bart Simpson character, claiming it to be a negative influence on children.

Fast forward to 2006, and the era of adult-oriented cartoons is far from over. Shows influenced by “The Simpsons” can be seen all over television now.

Such as Trey Parker & Matt Stone’s “South Park” which faced the same treatment that had plagued “The Simpsons” in previous years, with schools going so far as to ban its merchandise at one point. “South Park” like “The Simpsons,” also received Emmy and Peabody awards, and the feature length film was nominated for an Oscar.

Seth MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” holds the distinction of being one of few shows to be brought back on television by the same network that omitted it.

In spite of “Family Guy” rare success, the show has joined its animated brethren in being deemed a bad influence.

The Parents Television Council ranked “Family Guy” at No. 2 in the 2000 and 2005 incarnations of “worst prime-time shows for family viewing,” and has gone on record calling the show “raunchy” and “unbelievably foul.”

One of the biggest factors in the return of “Family Guy” was it’s syndication on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” block of programming. Premiering in September of 2001.

“Adult Swim” has been home to some of the most outrageous and popular shows like “Sealab 2021” and “The Venture Bros.”

The desire to tune into “shock TV,” comes with the taboo nature of the subject.

The juxtaposition of animation and vulgarity seems so wrong and contradictory to its nature, and keeps people tuning in.

Adult humor in cartoons is not limited to “Adult Swim,” even children geared comedies like “Shrek” have bits of innuendo.

The sharp contrast of animated figures normally designed for kids and raunchy humor reserved for R-rated movies is enough to draw millions of viewers.

Television has reached a new era, and the end of this era is nowhere in sight.

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