Netflix Cartoons for Adults: The Good, Bad, and Mediocre

netflix cartoons for adults

Intro

Netflix is spending a whole bunch of money on content creation. We all know that. We also know that not a whole lot of that money goes toward animated programs like these.

I’ll just come out and say it, in terms of animation alone, none of these shows is going to impress you.

We’re talking about some very basic motion design and generally awful character models.

But the visuals aren’t everything, just a lot.

We thought we’d take some time to examine the biggest Netflix cartoons for adults in detail. Maybe it can teach us something about the general direction of television, or explain why big-budget network animated shows just aren’t going to survive.

And just to keep in good spirits, let’s start with the best of the bunch.

The Good

Bojack Horseman

The critics have already cut this one up pretty well, so we’ll try not to linger.

Yes, this is the best Netflix original animated show, and also maybe the best Netflix original show to date.

And yes, it did indeed break new ground with its intimate portrayal of depression, abuse, and the ugly inner workings of show business and American culture in general.

The animation is atrocious and the backgrounds often look like they were drawn by very small children.

Luckily the writing, voice acting, and general execution are all fantastic.

It’s also just one of the darkest comedy shows currently being shown. It refuses to look away from some very serious subjects, to the benefit of its viewing audience and the television industry as a whole.

This is also an animated show that embraces the fact it’s made for adults. Some of the lesser shows here on our list seem to switch between multiple demographics, hoping to court plenty of younger audiences alongside adults.

The Bad

Big Mouth

Remember when we were talking about how some shows don’t really know who they want to appeal to?

Well, Big Mouth is essentially the poster child for that particular predicament.

It’s an animated show that stars alt-comedians whose fanbases are mostly in their 20s or 30s. But the subject of the show is puberty and sex education in general.

And based on the marketing efforts surrounding the show, it looks like they really are trying to appeal to a young audience, specifically an audience that is currently trying to deal with puberty.

And along those lines, I guess it could potentially benefit some curious kids by offering positive tips and the solace of knowing that everyone else has to deal with these awkward experiences.

The only problem is, the show never feels like it’s written for pubescent children. The jokes are almost entirely centered around subjects that only adults will fully appreciate.

So while Pixar movies find a way to offer something of value to audiences of all ages, Big Mouth just feels like a cheap Family Guy rip-off that falls prey to cheap laughs and unintelligent gross-out humor.

The (Painfully) Mediocre

F is for Family

This is Bill Burr’s own Netflix show. According to interviews with Burr, Netflix has generally stayed pretty hands-off with the whole project, urging him to push the envelope even more intensely.

For those who may not be aware with his work, Burr is a standup comedian from Boston who has since cultivated a reputation for spouting some highly volatile stuff.

He enjoys torturing progressives and SJWs, or just anyone who seems overly dedicated to a certain belief system or cause.

F is for Family certainly isn’t as explosive as Burr’s standup material, but it does follow in the same vein.

It’s a loose retelling of Burr’s own childhood experiences in the 1970s.

The father, played by Burr himself, is a tinderbox always ready to blow, often threatening different forms of physical abuse, but only in a goofy sitcom way.

Overall, the show is not especially impressive. It certainly seems to have its audience, namely folks who were already fans of Bill Burr, but it never becomes entirely its own thing.

It just feels like a mashup of about 7 different shows that you’ve already seen, and that you’ve already gotten tired of.

Disenchantment

Disenchantment is the latest project from Matt Groening, the gentleman who created The Simpsons some 30-odd years ago.

And if you thought The Simpsons has been getting old for a long time now, you’re absolutely right, for one thing.

But it’s also a hint to the feel of this show, which just feels old right out of the gate.

When the princess first leaves the castle, I was under the impression that she would be gone for good, embarking on some wonderful adventures throughout the kingdom and the outlying lands.

And while she and her buddies do occasionally end up in some sticky situations off-campus, they always end up returning to the castle, and all the dull characters contained therein.

And this geographical trajectory is ultimately representative of the show as a whole. It never really goes anywhere. Despite the number of times it tries to tease bigger plot points, I never found myself caring about any of it.

You know what it feels like? It feels like Futurama meets Medieval Times, which, come to think of it, is probably how they pitched the show to Netflix.

But that’s also just another way of saying that no part of the show feels new or original or interesting in any meaningful way.

Worst of all, the show wastes some incredible voice acting talent in the form of Abbi Jacobson (of Broad City fame) and Eric Andre (of the Eric Andre Show fame).

I was surprised to see that critics ate this show up. It received many positive reviews from folks excited to see a second season.

I couldn’t disagree more.

There’s nothing new here, just recycled nonsense from a guy who should have retired a good 20 years ago and allowed some new voices to come onto the screen.

Instead, we get more of this, more of a show that can only ever be used as background noise when you can’t sleep. In just half an episode, you’ll be out like a light.

About Michael J. Schuck

Michael J. Schuck is an LA-based writer, animator, and musician. He watches too many movies and then writes about them for this very website. His first novel, The Incredible Superfets, was published in 2015.

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