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Adventure Time is the best show on television. There. I said it.
Sure, it’s on Cartoon Network. It is, or at least was initially, seen as a “kid’s show.” The first four seasons were pretty silly, but even then their irreverence and creativity was unparalleled. You could never guess what was coming. Every ending would leave me scratching my head and thinking, “what the...?”
The show has only gotten better since it started getting more serious towards the end of season four. Its post-apocalyptic backstory is getting more and more intriguing. Its lessons are getting deeper and deeper. Its philosophical undertones are becoming more and more complex.
For example in the last episode, Astral Plane, lead character Finn has an out of body experience. He comes across a series of sad, lonely characters and begins questioning the nature of loneliness and creativity. After witnessing the birth of a celestial being he concludes that birth is the greatest high point of existence.
But then another question arises: if birth is life’s highest achievement, is the rest life afterward just a huge let down? He ends up meeting Glob, who has always been assumed to be the Adventure Time version of God. Glob is trying to save his planet from a comet that is heading towards it. Finn asks his question:
If just being born is the greatest act of creation, then what are you supposed to do after that? Isn’t everything that comes next sort of a disappointment? Slowly entropy-ing until we deflate into a pile of mush?
Glob vaguely answers that “it’s not enough to have created something amazing.” He then heads towards the comet himself, diverting it and saving his people but dying in the process. Not only is this philosophically deep, it’s also an obvious allusion to Jesus as God giving his life for his people.
What other TV show goes to any of these depths? And Adventure Time does it without any of unnecessary sex, violence, and vulgarity of “adult” shows. Its mystique, and popularity, will outlast any of its contemporary competition.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North.