Adult Animation Is Having Its Heyday

'Big Mouth'Credit: Netflix
The animation world used to be for kids, but adult animation is having a heyday right now. 

When I was growing up, it felt like every animated program was geared toward kids. It was such a concentrated market that when South Park debuted, parents were confused. Some of us were able to get away with watching it for a few weeks before they figured it out. 

The fact was, only the Simpsons and South Park were animated shows geared toward adults that aired on major networks. Later, Spawn would join them on HBO. But as my generation and the one before it began growing up and entered the film industry, we wanted jobs in the mediums that had influenced us. Animation!

Shows like Moral Orel, The Toxic Avenger, and the Adult Swim lineup began changing the shape of animation on TV. The rise in streaming also opened up the ability to attract adult viewers. You didn't have to stay up until midnight anymore. You could choose when you wanted to watch. 

Now, as you look at the scene today, it's much different. Adult animation is actually one of the most successful genres of entertainment. Shows like Rick and Morty, Big Mouth, and Clone High dominate the conversation. We have Primal, Samurai Jack, and The Boondocks all coming back. 

'The Boondocks'
'The Boondocks'Credit: Cartoon Network

In only a few decades, we've reached what can be considered the renaissance of adult animated programs. 

In fact, HBO Max is doubling down on how hot this genre is right now. They paid $500 million for the exclusive rights to South Park, and they haven't stopped there. They have a revival of Clone High (picked up for two seasons), the Scooby-Doo prequel Velma, a take on Gremlins, more Harley Quinn, plus an ongoing slate of additional animated content, including an adult-focused Game of Thrones animated series.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg across streamers. 

Netflix is constantly developing new animated series, and Amazon is not far behind. Think about Bojack Horseman and Undone. In fact, According to THR, Netflix has invested over one billion dollars in animated programming. 

Apple is joining in with Robert Kirkman's Invincible coming this year. 

It seems like everyone is chasing adult animation. Aside from being a genre many grew up with at this point, it's also one worth the money. Successes like Family Guy and The Simpsons show how long animated shows can stay on the air. You can rotate the writers' room to keep it fresh, and the characters never age or change, so you don't have to work on a schedule.

Recording voice lines is easy for actors and only takes a few days. Much of the animation can be done for cheap in foreign countries. And you can write and animate year-round. 

Another shift in all of this is the COVID-19 pandemic. With live-action TV and films sidelined, the animation genre was able to continue. It was easier following COVID protocols when you just are sanitizing a room and a mic. And lots of lines could be done remotely, over Zoom, with a proper mic setup. 

And you could crack out episodes with the same process since animated programs have taken leaps and bounds forward and allowed people to actually design from home. 

There has never been a better time to develop an animated series. 

What are some of your favorite animated programs for adults? Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

3 Comments

Lets not forget about Home Movies, where the voice of Bob of Bobs Burgers and Archer from Archer was perfected by the incredible H. Jon Benjamin. Thank you Adult Swim.

February 23, 2021 at 1:31PM

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You voted '-1'.
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Nick Straub
Videographer
1051

I think anyone interested in adult animation needs to open Amazon Prime and watch Made in Abyss. On Netflix watch Gokudolls, Kill la Kill, and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. If you can find Interspecies Reviewers online, definitely watch that.

February 23, 2021 at 7:57PM

6
Reply

Bob’s Burgers is my happy place :)

March 5, 2021 at 1:27AM

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Neville E. Shaw
Visual Content Creator
84