A friend recently told me that “Family Guy” is superior to “The Simpsons,” which left me speechless and unable to launch a witty retort.
When I eventually recovered from the impact of this clearly erroneous statement, I began to think of how many adult-targeted animated shows are, despite its popularity, better than “Family Guy.”
I understand in this culture of not hurting feelings that we’re not supposed to say opinions are wrong, but sometimes they are. “Family Guy” — which chronicles the life of the Griffins, a dysfunctional family from Quahog, Rhode Island, and the exploits of its fat, stupid patriarch Peter, his snobbish dog Brian, homicidal infant Stewie and others — is funny but gets in its own way by trying to offend on purpose.
The cartoon rarely explores any moral or ethical dilemmas, as was often the case in “The Simpsons,” especially in its early years. “Family Guy” is more of a slapstick style comedy, but the biggest problem with it is that it insists on ramming jokes about subjects that, while not taboo, are extremely difficult to make light of in a clever or funny way.
Let’s face it, if “Family Guy” was so groundbreaking and amazingly hilarious, why was it canceled once before? Maybe because it’s just a collection of the most sensationalist jokes told in rapid-fire succession, with no thought of comedic timing or standards? I think making fun of any topic is OK, but there are some things that might be OK to do, but I still don’t do them. Just because its “OK” to eat veal or massive steaks often doesn’t mean it’s right or sensible.
Here are five adult cartoon series that are better, and it’s should be no surprise that we kickoff with the best one ever, IMHO.
1. “THE SIMPSONS”
Aside from being the best adult animated television show ever produced, “The Simpsons” also taught us lessons. Over the years, viewers also grew to feel like they knew all the players in Springfield, from Moe the surly bartender to Dr. Julius Hibbert, the jovial family physician. It’s like creator Matt Groening actually brought the fictional town to life for the world to peek into its windows at the show inside — and thank goodness he did. It’s easy to see why the show has remained an American staple since its debut in 1989.
Another Groening-created animation series, “Futurama” took place, surprise, in the future. But the cool twist is the slow-witted former pizza delivery boy protagonist, Philip J. Fry, is transported to the year 3000 to hang out with his best friend, a robot, and his Cyclops crush, Leela. If this isn’t a little boy-turned-grown-man’s dream, tell me what is. The show, which ended its run in 2013, is also funny and adventurous — and much better than getting wasted at the Drunken Clam in Quahog.
3. “KING OF THE HILL”
Taking on Texas culture and middle America, this series was thoughtful and funny in the way it poked at the ribs of dominant, white culture. Instead of completely trivializing things like immigration and race, it subtly used issues to create funny situations. There were many great characters in the show, including Hank Hill’s dad, the insane, shin-missing Cotton, and his son, Bobby, who was never quite right to Hank but great for viewers.
4. “BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES”
This ’90s-era Batman cartoon combined all the best of Gotham and was a treat to watch after school. The villains were central, vital to any good Batman series, the stories were compelling, and it was always dark. Batman should never, ever be drawn or seen in daylight; it subtracts from his mystique as the most badass comic-book character. The Bat is the only major comic-book hero without any real superpowers — he’s just a mentally scarred, rich guy-turned vigilante. The story of Batman is powerful because he is constantly trying to erase the tragic memory of his parent’s death though the redemption of crime fighting, except his journey never ends.
5. “ROBOT CHICKEN”
This stop-motion animated series is completely irreverent, but not in the mean “Family Guy” way. It mostly pokes at those who deserve to be criticized: celebrities and people obsessed with pop culture and consumerism. Altogether, it’s a light and fun watch that also manages to dig up awesome action figures to use in the sequences, and that’s a treat, too.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.