Animation has been unfairly treated for being too juvenile or for-kids, but we’re in the Golden Age of Television, and there’s no shortage of topnotch animated series in the nearly infinite list of good shows streaming right now.
Stop complaining about the decline of writing in The Simpsons and start branching out. Netflix’s cache isn’t all live-action comedy sitcoms, treacly prison dramas, or gritty but emotionally impotent action flicks. There’s a lot more if you just look a bit further. The streaming service has a rich stockpile of animated series of various genres. Believe it or not, these will not only make you laugh, they’ll also occasionally make you cry, or, in the case of BoJack Horseman, force you to enter a state of never-ending existentialism and make everything look drab, pointless, and devoid of meaning.
We’ve specifically picked out shows that, while often lacking in strong plots and sometimes feature characters haphazardly rendered onscreen for the sake of comedic payoff, are still poignant. These shows tap into a whirlwind of personal traumas Pixar films often tread, be it loneliness, isolation, finding a friend amidst a lonely world, and attempting to get better despite the odds. Some of these are unafraid to push the envelope when it comes to talking points, such as Big Mouth, which handles themes of growth, feminism, and sexuality with a razor-sharp voice.
Below are some of the best Netflix animated series you can find. They’re not all Netflix originals, though — some are just available on the platform as of this writing. What connects them, though, is that they evince sensibilities that are a far cry from the low-quality blather of cheap cartoons without any emotional bearings. That’s not to say those are bad, to be sure. It’s just that sometimes you need a gut-punch, and to see it come from drawings brought to life is truly endearing.
Raunchy animation isn’t new — Adult Swim has aplenty. But the refreshing thing about Big Mouth is its raunchiness doesn’t just stop at shock value or disgusting spectacle. In fact, it’s its key strength. The show talks about issues that seem trite to us now, given we’re adults. But tap into your embarrassing memory pool of adulthood and you’ll find yourself in the midst of questions about ex, sexuality, identity, and attraction.
Puberty is one of the easiest subjects to make fun of in media because it’s inherently gross, confusing, and has the greatest potential for disaster. Comedy gold, in other words. What’s harder to do is to paint portraits of puberty with sincere gentleness. Big Mouth isn’t gentle at all. You won’t find priest-delicate servings of sex manifestos here. It is crass and sharp-mouthed, even often merciless in its attempts to make vile things even less palatable than they already are.
Big Mouth, however, is special because it doesn’t abscond from the difficult conversations. What it makes fun of it doesn’t escape from, taking care, instead, to dissect and observe the complexities of puberty instead of meandering around in it to harvest material. From menstruation to wet dreams, Big Mouth lays it all on the table. Theme-wise, Big Mouth can get messy, convoluted, and downright dirty. But it is never boring; the show does not tread hackneyed shorthand or make assumptions about puberty. Therefore, it is not an R-rated after-school special. It’s an R-rated romp with plenty of things to say. Seasons one and two streaming now. A third one is on the way.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Ejaculation, Everybody Bleeds, Am I Gay?, Girls Are Horny Too
Director: Joel Moser, Bryan Francis, Mike L. Mayfield – Screenplay: Nick Kroll, Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett – Cast: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein – Run Time: 2 seasons, around 30 minutes per episode
BoJack Horseman is a washed-up Hollywood has-been stuck in the intersection of sitcom fame and the desperation of a washed-up hack. No, not the intersection — he’s well within the confines of the latter. He seems like he’s got it all: a lavish California dream mansion, friends, and women. But he’s lonely. He’s depressed. And he doesn’t know what he wants, what to want, and he’s too tired for the chase, more inclined to take comfort in past laurels than carve a new chapter.
The show is a masterful portrait of isolation. Amazingly, though BoJack Horseman is far from relatable — there’s a lot of A-list actors turned washed-up wannabes out there, but not us — it makes us care for the titular character, who is imperfect in all intents and purposes that world allows. As we’ll soon learn, BoJack is an expert on self-sabotage, using whatever is available (drugs, sex, alcohol) to distract absent himself from the living nightmare that is consciousness. When he’s not drugged or high, he’s wafting through the pungent air of Hollywood (Hollywoo, in this show), reminiscing about what was and grieving what could have been.
Don’t get us wrong — it’s very, very funny. And the world, a hand-drawn mish-mash populated by anthropomorphic animals and regular people, brims with likeness but also alienation. BoJack Horseman is one of those rare comedies who doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff. Our only advice is not to binge it all in one go. Seasons one through five streaming now. A sixth one is in development.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Zoës and Zeldas, The Telescope, Later, Out to Sea, Fish Out of Water, That’s Too Much, Man!, Free Churro
Director: Joel Moser, J.C. Gonzalez, Martin Cendreda – Screenplay: Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Peter A. Knight, Caroline Williams – Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie – Run Time: 5 seasons, around 25 minutes per episode
Rick & Morty
It’s hard to write about Rick & Morty because, much like shows that puts strained family relationships front and center, much has been written about it already. One search and you’ll come upon a treasure trove of thinkpieces about Rick & Morty’s unique brand of comedy. At this point it’s not really about convincing you to watch it. Rather, it’s about when you’ll find time to actually sit and load it up on Netflix.
From Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon, Rick & Morty, on Adult Swim, follows the world-trotting mad scientist Rick Sanchez. Often, he brings Morty Smith, his good-natured but worrywart grandson, along. The show’s episodes oscillate between their domestic life and frantic, sometimes downright deadly misadventures.
As a modern show, this show won’t disappoint. It gives us plenty of pop culture references, and sometimes even adds to the broader tapestry of internet phenomena. Structurally, though, Rick & Morty is a richly layered episodic saga of wackiness, and few shows are able to match its intricate, delicately scattershot plotting, turns, and twists. What’s interesting is the audience becomes no mere surveyor of the shenanigans, but instead join the two principal characters as they set off to distant planets. There’s no shortage of things to look at — planets are brimmed with alien life nearly always hostile but occasionally tame.
Each episode of Rick & Morty is a contained adventure in and of itself, though look more carefully and you’ll find nuggets of fine aphorisms — they’re hidden for a reason: on the surface, it’s all fun and games. But squint your eyes a little and you’ll come to see the hijinks in a different light, tinged with a bit of melancholy. Oh, and did we forget to mention it’s a comedy? Yes, this show is funny as hell. Seasons one through three are streaming now. A fourth will debut sometime this November.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: The Ricks Must Be Crazy, Meseeks And Destroy, Mortynight Run, Auto Erotic Assimilation, The Ricklantis Mixup, Pickle Rick
Director: Justin Roiland, John Rice, Jeff Myers – Screenplay: Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland, Ryan Ridley – Cast: Justin Roiland, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer – Run Time: 3 seasons, 22 minutes per episode
Tuca & Bertie
Tuca & Bertie, from Lisa Hanawalt, responsible for the artistic direction of acclaimed show BoJack Horseman, starts off a bit rough. The plotting, while inspired, seems catered to please those who fetishize the trundle and tumble of modern city life. But if you give it a chance, you’ll come face to face with one of the whip-smartest, sharpest discussions of female agency in the #MeToo era.
Tuca & Berties follows the titular characters Tuca & Bertie and their friendship. Tuca is sharp-mouthed happy-go-lucky Tucan; Bertie, meanwhile, is an anxiety-addled songbird prone to daydreaming. In other words, a match made in heaven. These two aren’t supposed to gel together, but their chemistry shines onscreen. Tuca’s brash, uncomplicated outlook in life is the perfect antithesis to Bertie’s very careful life, much of which is spent avoiding potential danger.
Some shows rely on bombastic spectacles and visual splendor to entertain. Tuca & Bertie has its fair share of visual splendor, yes. We are inside a world inhabited by anthropomorphic birds for chrissake’s — what could be cuter? But Tuca & Bertie is better than most those shows because it cares more about interiority than cheap laughs. The characterization here is one of the richest ever seen on TV, animated or not. They start off as caricaturish ploys for comedic catharsis, but by the end, these two will have exhibited immense growth not just in the context of their friendship but within themselves, as women trying to find a place in this world. The entire first season is available now. A second season hasn’t been announced yet as of this writing.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: The Deli Guy, Plumage, The Open House, Yeast Week
Director: Amy Winfrey, Aaron Long, Mollie Helms – Screenplay: Lisa Hanawalt, Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Lee Sung Jin – Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Steven Yeun – Run Time: 3 seasons, around 50 minutes per episode
Aggretsuko made a splash in 2018 for a bleakly accurate yet still funny portrait of a stressed office worker. The conceit of this show is simple: an overworked corporate worker escapes the dullne dread of workaday thanklessness of her job by singing death metal karaoke after her shift.
If that doesn’t have you sold yet, better not proceed. If, however, that sounds intriguing, then you’ll have a delightful time with Retsuko the Red Panda. Despite its theme, this is a delightful show about work culture, which is unusual since Agggretsuko is a Sanrio property, which is usually all glitter and cheeky pink humor.
As a portrait of modern life, it’s radically insightful. As a portrait of female empowerment, it’s even more potent. Aggretsuko’s genius is it attracts you with a highly unusual but endearing plot, but wastes no time in unraveling its much more complex and layered subject matter. It’s unflinchingly honest about the special brand of annoying workplace interactions render, and as equally candid when it comes to its onscreen depiction of work sexism.
Never mind that often it’s over-the-top. Its humor, in other words, is not for everyone. If you prefer the aroused blather of Big Mouth, this might not be the right piece of entertainment for you. But if you’re interested in typically kawaii characters suffering through the 20th century contrivances of work life, then there’s plenty here to enjoy. It paints a unique but universal picture of existential dread for the modern generation, doing so with tongue-in-cheek humor instead of righteous, condescending sit-downs. Two seasons available to stream now. There’s also a Christmas special released last year.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: A Day in the Life of Retsuko, The Out-of-Pocket Prince, A Good, Hard-working Girl, Walking Down the Aisle, Short-Timer, The Dream Ends
Director: Rareko – Screenplay: Rareko – Cast: Kaolip, Komegumi Koiwasaki, Maki Tsuruta – Run Time: 2 seasons, 15 minutes per episode
Carmen Sandiego debuted earlier this January and pleased critics for its faithful adulation of the original edutainment series but also its careful and clever stepping-away from those roots. Carmen Sandiego is back and better than ever. Funny, insightful, and always charming, the show is an animated delight made for all ages, brimmed in optimism about our world, or, more specifically, the people that make up this world.
Whereas the original Carmen Sandiego taught kids about the borders that separated one country from another, this new iteration teaches them to celebrate the humanity the bleeds beyond such imaginary borders.
It’s not without its flaws, of course. This show, since it operates a bit from the source material, is, as a result, more interested this time in showing hijinks and action sequences. They’re fun, stylish, and highly engaging. But that also means this new Carmen Sandiego is less educational.
It’s up to you to decide whether that’s a minor blemish or not. But for all intents and purposes, Carmen Sandiego is a wonderful show, decorated with factoids that make us appreciate the world even further. The show also manages to delve into Carmen Sandiego’s enigmatic past though it doesn’t go all the way, teasing us instead with bits and bobs. It is endlessly captivating, intriguing, and sharp. But most of all, it’s a show about compassion, or how important it is to look beyond our own borders. Season one is streaming now. A second season has also been greenlit by Netflix, though no release date has been announced yet.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: The Sticky Rice Caper, The Duke of Vermeer Caper, The Lucky Cat Caper, The French Connection Caper
Director: Jos Humphrey and Kenny Park – Screenplay: Duane Capizzi, May Chan, Becky Tinker – Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Abby Trott – Run Time: 1 season, around 30 minutes per episode
Dischenmant’s art style is familiar because it was created by none other than Matt Gorening, legendary artist behind The Simpsons. The latter show might have lost its original charm and insight of the modern American household, but Disenchantment puts Groening in uncharted territory.
Here we are whisked away to the downtrodden medieval kingdom of Dreamland, following the various adventures of Bean, a young, alcoholic princess; Elfo, her sharp-mouthed elf companion; and Luci, her personal demon. They set off to a grand, epic adventure where they encounter ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses, and of course, lots and lots of foolish humans.
Disenchantment is devoid of the magical touch that made The Simpsons such an essential portrait of suburban existence. Still, it’s worth watching because you’ll find flecks of Groening’s signature humor here. The story is at times thin yet manages to be engaging occasionally, and there’s plenty of laughs to be had as the plot progresses.
The show is highly different from Groening’s broader body of work, though it’s strikingly familiar in both look and feel. It’s not exactly what you’d call a great animated show, and it’s certainly far from the creator’s most inspired masterstrokes. But there’s something to be said about the show’s careful, worldbuilding, which is its secret trump card: this medieval setting incites more delights than it has any right to do, providing a robust milieu for our unlikely crew of rebels.
You’ll find it at times too dull or downright unfunny. Predictable at certain moments, too. Which is rather unfortunate. It’s a pleasant show that’s got plenty of smart visual gags, and it’s a must-not-miss for fans of Groening’s work, at least. The first season is streaming now. A second one is currently in development and scheduled to debut sometime this year.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: The Princess of Darkness, Swamp and Circumstance, The Limits of Immortality, Dreamland Falls
Director: Dwayne Carey-Hill, Frank Marino, Wes Archer – Screenplay: Matt Groening, Josh Weinstein, David X. Cohen – Cast: Abbi Jacobson, Eric Andre, Nat Faxon – Run Time: 1 season, around 30 minutes per episode
F Is For Family
Set in the 1970s (which is always an interesting era to go back to), F Is For Family follows the Murphy family in times both blissful and downright tragic. The Bill Burr and Michael Price-created series takes us back several decades to examine the family unit in those times, which largely was marked my turmoil.
To be clear, this is a comedy. In fact, it’s a vulgar one. More often than not, that’s this shows biggest flaw. Relying too much on crude humor works up to a point, but it gets exhausting after a few repeats. Still, this show is saved by its sometimes sweet moments, and damn it if it isn’t intensely poignant at times.
Some episodes feel a tad bit underwritten compared to several of F Is For Family’s stronger entries. But all shine thanks to Burr’s comedic chops, ensuring each half-hour is as astringent, acerbic, and insightful as the comedian’s brand of jokes. The show also shows inventiveness at various points, but it’s not perfect. Sometimes, it reaches for ambitions and fails to go all the way, making for half-assed attempts that, while could have been extremely compelling, land somewhat with a dull thud. And depending on what kind of comedy tickles your fancy, you’ll find its routine characters either reliable or annoying.
However, we believe F Is For Family is still very much worth the watch simply for its amazing cast alone, which consists of Burr himself, Lynch muse Laura Dern, and the internet’s everyfriend Justin Long. Not only that, but the show is an expert at balancing dark humor and emotional story arcs that tug at the heart while providing bellyache-level laughs. Seasons one through three are streaming now. A fourth one is development and scheduled to debut sometime next year.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Bill Murphy’s Day Off, O Holy Moly Night, Fight Night, Night Shift, Saturday Bloody Saturday
Director: Benjamin Marsaud, Laurent Nicolas, Romain Bounoure – Screenplay: Michael Price, David Richardson, Tom Gianas – Cast: Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long – Run Time: 3 seasons, around 25 minutes per episode
The Long Long Holiday
The Long Long Holiday is about a pair of siblings who visit their grandparents in Normandy as World War II breaks out in Europe. There’s no shortage of animated series that bravely attempt to take on heavy subject matter (see BoJack Horseman and Tuca & Bertie elsewhere in this list). The Long Long Holiday takes that concept even further by exploring one of the darkest periods in Western, and by extent all of, civilization.
Originally broadcast in France in 2015, The Long Long Holiday consists of ten episodes (sometimes shown as five, as on Netflix) won Best Children’s TV Program by the Paris Radio and Television Club. It’s easy to see why. Not only is the animation masterful and reminiscent of Japan’s style of animation (it’s at times hard not too see it as a poor man’s Hayao Miyazaki, though), its interweaving of storylines and tender rendering of characters is just as sophisticated.
It’s as if only through the lens of vibrant, vivid animation we are able to face head-on the horrors of the second World War, its real-life equivalent too searing and powerfully morbid that we dare not look at the aftermath. This shows not only looks at the aftermath, but throws us in the middle of that chaotic time, face to face the cruelty of people in power.
You should definitely watch this series. The only advice we want to give is not to binge it all at once — like Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this is not for the faint of heart. The entire miniseries is available now.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: The Exodus, Resistant Youths, The End of the War
Creator: Delphine Maury and Olivier Vinuesa – Cast: Benjamin Bollen, Janet James, Clara Quilichini – Run Time: 1 season, around 25 minutes per episode
Have you ever heard of a turducken? It’s chicken wrapped in duck then jammed inside of turkey. A turducken. Hilda is kind of like that — it’s a show with layers upon layers of thematic deluge, but at the core is this sweet tale of adventure, exploration, friendship, and how kids follow their curiosity.
The British-Canadian TV series, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Luke Pearson, follows the adventures of the titular character Hilda, a young blue-haired girl, as she fearlessly travels to the city of Trolberg and forms the unlikeliest of friendships with dangerous monsters. She is accompanied by her deerfox Twig, who’s the most loyal pet anyone could ever have by their side.
Hilda, like Disenchantment elsewhere in this list, is a fantasy series, but it’s the better one because it’s simple. Its comedy isn’t on the nose and doesn’t beeline for the cheap and easy laughs. There’s something inherently endearing about this series, and not just because it’s about the wonders of discovery — but also because Hilda is a character you’ll immediately love. She’s not the perfect cookie-cutter angel, rather she has plenty moments of mischief aplenty. But don’t all children? She, and her endless quest for adventure, is beautifully captured in this impressionistic, artful series.
It is simple but powerful; gentle but never lacking in conviction; mundane and trivial yet manages to frame those moments into special ones. Hilda is this rare example of animation that speaks directly to the kid in you, that kid you may have hidden because they’re too rambunctious, too eager to chase perils for fun and excitement. Hilda invites them to the fore and reminds them it’s okay to make a mess sometimes. That’s just a part of life. The first season is streaming now. A second one is currently in development and set to debut sometime next year.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: The Hidden People, The Bird Parade, The Troll Rock, The Nightmare Spirit, The Storm
Creator: Kurt Mueller, Luke Pearson, Stephanie Simpson – Screenplay: Stephanie Simpson, Kenny Byerly, Ben Joseph – Cast: Bella Ramsey, Ameerah Falzon-Ojo, Oliver Nelson – Run Time: 1 season, 24 minutes per episode
Violet Evergarden is a Japanese TV series about a the titular character of the same name, a young girl formerly known as “the weapon” who has left the battlefield to start a new life at the CH Postal Service. While working there, she is moved by the work of “Auto Memories Dolls,” which carry people’s thoughts and turn them into words. So moved, in fact, that she becomes an Auto Memories Doll herself, and in her place, she gets to come face to face with people’s emotions and various notions of love.
Yo can always Japanese animation to come up with the wackiest, most unusual premises ever. Violet Evergarden is fine example of the country’s masterful, inventive stories. But at the core of this series is a poignant and heartfelt exploration of memories, emotions, and their fleeting quality. The show is about self-discovery, too, and also learning how to grow accustomed to a new life.
Refreshingly, Violet Evergarden puts more emphasis on character building than plot. Not to say the plots here are thin — they aren’t. It’s just that the people populating this story take center stage, and for a while, we get to be them. We get to experience how they feel, what kind of lives they lead, and what aspirations they’re trying to pursue. Violet Evergarden is a masterful show about empathy and people. Don’t expect a lot of action sequences, though — this isn’t really that show. If you want something that’ll make you an emotional wreck, start watching this show stat. Visuals, voice acting, and animation are all top-notch. All 13 episodes available to stream now. A spinoff film is scheduled to premiere this September.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Never Coming Back, May You Be an Exemplary Auto Memory Doll, You Write Letters That Bring People Together?
Director: Taichi Ishidate, Haruka Fujita, Shinpei Sawa – Screenplay: Reiko Yoshida, Tatsuhiko Urahata, Takaaki Suzuki – Cast: Yui Ishikawa, Takehito Koyasu, Daisuke Namikawa – Run Time: 1 season, 24 minutes per episode
The Dragon Prince
If you’re wondering what Aaron Ehasz has been up to after wrapping work on his criminally underrated follow-up to Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, we’re glad to tell you he’s still doing what he does best: making compelling shows with an impressive array of characters and, of course, incredible world-building.
The Dragon Prince, on Netflix, created by Ehasz and Justin Richmond, is set in a fantasy world. We’re at the continent of Xadai, a place brimming with six primal elements: the Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, Sky, and Ocean. Humans who failed to wield these elements discovered instead black magic, which is fueled by the life essence of animals and magical creatures. Angered by such atrocities, the dragons and elves sent these fools to the other end of the continent, where they founded the five human kingdoms.
That’s all we’re willing to tell you. It’s best to let this show unravel on its own — trust us, you’ll want to unspool its complex world organically rather than reading it off a description. the show one of the more interesting additions of late to the fantasy genre, and this is not that difficult to understand, as the show comes embedded with the same genes that made Avatar: The Last Airbender so great: incredible storytelling, character arcs, and last but not least, animation.
At the core of The Dragon Prince is conflict, but the show’s creators are smart enough not to rely on this too much so as to bleed it dry. Instead, it attempts to make something harmonious out of its chaos, and, combined with strong characters, an endearing magical world, the show’s ideas feel refreshing and new in an age where cynicism seem to be reigning supreme in art. The show’s two seasons are available to stream now. A third one is development though a release date has yet to be announced.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Echoes of Thunder, Moonrise, An Empty Throne, Wonderstorm
Director: Giancarlo Volpe and Villads Spangsberg, – Screenplay: Aaron Ehasz, Justin Richmond, Devon Giehl – Cast: Jack DeSena, Sasha Rojen, Paula Burrows – Run Time: 2 seasons, around 26 minutes per episode
Another one from Japan, Devilman Crybaby, based on Go Nagai’s manga Devilman, follows Akira Fudo who’s informed that an ancient race of demons has returns to take back the world from humans. Akira’s best friend, Ryo Asuka, tells him the only way to defeat them is to use their own powers against them. Which is why he suggests to Akira to reunite with a demon. He does, and in doing so, Akira transforms into Devilman, possessing the powers of a demon but retaining the soul of a human.
If you love a dash of violence in your TV, you’ll like this show very much, as it’s got heaps of it. The show is as unflinching and brash as its source material. It’s best if we tell you know that you should not watch this with your kids, ever, or else they’ll need to get therapy. Featuring a strong array of characters and a marvelously crafted story, Devilman Crybaby is a masterstroke both in terms of animation in storytelling. One minute it’s awe-strikingly violent. Then the next minute it’s tearing your heart apart.
If you don’t really like ultra-violence, skip ahead. You’ll find something better (see Aggretsuko elsewhere in this list). If you, however, fancy some darkness with a bit of humor thrown in, this is the perfect choice. Devilman Crybaby is totally unique, sometimes absolutely heartbreaking, and never unforgettable show that’ll make your eyes bleed from over-stimulation. Just kidding. But seriously — it’s great. The first season is available to stream now.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: All of them
Director: Masaaki Yuasa, Katsunori Shibata, Tōru Yoshida – Cast: Kōki Uchiyama, Ayumu Murase, Megumi Han – Run Time: 1 season, 25 minutes per episode
The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants
Produced by DreamWorks (the same studio that made the Shrek films), The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants is an animated web series based on the film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which in turn draws from the original books by Dav Pilkey.
The story follows comic book artists George Beard and Harold Hutchkins in their misadventures and pranks, with their strict principal, Mr. Krupp, there to reprimand their hijinks. The two boys have quite the imagination, which is what pushes them to hypnotize Mr. Krupp to become Captain Underpants, a brief-wearing superhero.
Yes, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants is, more often than not, a tad bit childish. There’s plenty of juvenile humor here that makes it a perfect show for kids. However, the show elevates from this trope by never talking condescendingly to its audience. It’s not a dumb show made specifically for kids’ enjoyment. You can, as an adult, totally enjoy its wacky and tumultuous crew of troublemakers.
It helps that the show’s humor is quite smart, if downright silly. That’s thanks largely to the original source material, a book you’ll laugh with, not laugh at. If you’re looking for an animated comedy that talks about heavy themes, this isn’t it. Watch BoJack Horseman instead, or Rick & Morty. But if you want a feel-good show that doesn’t make you feel like you wasted time after having watched it, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants is a smart choice. Two seasons available to stream now.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Captain Underpants and the Frenzied Farts of Flabby Flabulous, Captain Underpants and the Vexing Villainy of the Vile Vampire, Captain Underpants and the Jarring Jerkiness of the Judge J.O.R.T.S.
Director: Todd Grimes, Seung W. Cha, Octavio E. Rodriguez – Screenplay: Peter Hastings, Mark Banker, Matt Smith – Cast: – Run Time: 2 seasons, 24 minutes per episode
Final Space is an animated space-opera comedy originally created for Adult Swim but is now streaming on Netflix for your viewing pleasure. It follows astronaut Gary alongside his alien friend Mooncake as they attempt to solve the mystery of the “Final Space.”
Though at times the show can feel a wee bit formulaic, there’s plenty of pretty things to look at here being that the animation is so gorgeous. It can get pretty violent, too, which is good if that’s your thing. But at its core lies a goofy misadventure though outer space. The first few episodes are rough, but stick with it and you’ll find that its rhythm will grow on you increasingly. Like Devilman Crybaby, Final Space is an expert at making you laugh one moment then taking your breath away the next.
It’s actually astonishing how overlooked this show is, but hopefully you’ll try it. You might, initially, flinch at how nonsensical its humor. But stay a while and you’ll appreciate its moment of heartfelt poignancy. The first season is an engaging, if imperfect little nugget of animation. But maybe it’s gotten a lot better. Season two premieres this June 24.
Episodes That Deserve Special Mention: Chapter One, Chapter Three, Chapter Eight, Chapter Ten
Director: Mike Roberts, Dan O’Connor, Ben Bjelajac – Screenplay: Olan Rogers, David Sacks, Jane Becker – Cast: Olan Rogers, Fred Armisen, Tom Kenny – Run Time: 2 seasons, 21 minutes per episode