FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (10)
February 1, 2021
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite animated TV series.
ADVENTURE TIME | PENDLETON WARD | 2010–2018
I first saw Adventure Time in my friend Jonathan’s mom’s car. Jonathan and I were all about using our imaginations, mainly since our parents refused to buy us videogames. We would LARP and play D&D; our worlds could be rebuilt in an instant. Not being that athletic, it was hard to feel good about the space we took up when surrounded by other middle-school boys. I felt like a weirdo for walking around the outskirts of the soccer field at recess. But in my imagination, I was a bad-ass.
Before Adventure Time, I’d been into SpongeBob, Arthur, Curious George, and The Fairly Oddparents. I liked these shows, but they were very predictable. You could expect the one-dimensional characters to say certain jokes, cause certain problems, and make each other feel good by the end of each episode. The music, in these shows, was not something you really wanted to listen to more than once. Any time the characters were singing, it was a parody.
Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, the heroes of Adventure Time, were different. They were best friends who were comfortable in who they were, as weird and silly as that might be. They were kind of pudgy, they wanted to do good, they sang pretty songs about their feelings; there was a softness in the show’s depiction of boyhood and male friendship that felt real. Finn and Jake made it OK to be myself, to pay attention to my emotions. It was also OK to not want to grow up quite so fast; their world — the Land of Ooo — was a kid’s realized imagination.
As I grew older, the show became more and more complex. Post-apocalyptic ruins started showing up, and talk of a Great Mushroom War piqued my interest. I searched for more info, but the details remained elusive. Finn seems to be the only human on the planet; the bassist-vampire Marceline has memories from right after an apocalypse; and the Lich King seems to have assumed his form thanks to a “mutagenic” bomb. Marceline would tell Finn and Jake stories about what it had been like living in a post-apocalyptic America, but the point wasn’t to dwell on the horrors of the past; instead, these stories helped explain how this magical future — in which you can sing about your feelings, and anyone can be a hero — came into existence.
It was a future where a kid like me, standing on the edge of the soccer field wondering if the worlds in my brain were valid spaces of play, could fit right in.
ALSO SEE: Max’s reviews of DC’s The New 52.
FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: SERIES INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Miranda Mellis on STEVEN UNIVERSE | Luc Sante on TOP CAT | Peggy Nelson on PINK PANTHER | Charlie Mitchell on COWBOY BEBOP | Mimi Lipson on THE FLINTSTONES | Sam Glenn on BIG MOUTH | Mandy Keifetz on ROAD RUNNER | Ramona Lyons on SHE-RA | Holly Interlandi on DRAGON BALL Z | Max Glenn on ADVENTURE TIME | Joe Alterio on REN & STIMPY | Josh Glenn on SPEED RACER | Adam McGovern on KIMBA THE WHITE LION | Jonathan Pinchera on SAMURAI JACK | Lynn Peril on JONNY QUEST | Stephanie Burt on X-MEN THE ANIMATED SERIES and X-MEN: EVOLUTION | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on THE JETSONS | Adam Netburn on NARUTO | Madeline Ashby on AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER | Tom Nealon on TRANSFORMERS | Sara Ryan on BOJACK HORSEMAN | Michael Grasso on COSMIC CLOCK | Erin M. Routson on BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD | Deborah Wassertzug on DARIA | Lydia Millet on BOB’S BURGERS.
NERD YOUR ENTHUSIASM (4Q2021): NERDING | ARDUIN | KLINGON CONFIDENTIAL | MAP INSERTS | TIME | & 20 other nerdy passions. SWERVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (3Q2021): WARHOL’S WALT WHITMAN | 70, GIRLS, 70 | TYRAEL’S MIGHT | SHIRATO SANPEI | THE LEON SUITES | & 20 other never-realized cultural productions. FIVE-O YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2Q2021): DARK SHADOWS | MANNIX | GET SMART | THE ADDAMS FAMILY | I DREAM OF JEANNIE | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) TV shows. FERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (1Q2021): STEVEN UNIVERSE | TOP CAT | REN & STIMPY | SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER | DRAGON BALL Z | & 20 other animated series. CARBONA YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2020): “Sex Bomb” | “Going Underground” | “Soft South Africans” | “Typical Girls” | “Human Fly” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) punk singles. KLAATU YOU (2020 weekly): ZARDOZ | METROPOLIS | DARK STAR | SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS | SOLARIS | & dozens of other pre-STAR WARS sci-fi movies. CONVOY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2019): THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE | ROLLERBALL | BLACK SUNDAY | SORCERER | STRAIGHT TIME | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) action movies. SERIOCOMIC (2019 weekly): LITTLE LULU | VIZ | MARSUPILAMI | ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | HELLBOY | & dozens of other comics. TUBE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2018): LOONEY TUNES | THREE STOOGES | THE AVENGERS | ROCKY & BULLWINKLE | THE TWILIGHT ZONE | & 20 other Fifties (1954–1963) TV shows. WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads. GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) new wave singles. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other Thirties (1934–1943) fantasy novels. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other Seventies (1974–1983) hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.
What do you think?
this is a lovely, gentle, wistful piece of writing, and a v helpful explanation of this show that i knew nothing about. i’m not sure i agree w/regard to the music on spongebob – ‘gary come home’ is a very pretty song about feelings, and i listen to it all the time. on the other hand it is sort of campy/parodic – so yes, max glenn is right.
‘wondering if the worlds in my brain were valid spaces of play’ – i’m not sure you ever grow out of that one…
Mr. Parker – I fear it’s too easy to lose those spaces of play inside the head. Dear Max, you are an artist so protect that space from the elements. Now I want to go watch Adventure Time. I want to meet Marceline! A lovely, reassuring read.
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