Has the cartoon network show, Adventure Time, gotten too dark to still be considered a kid’s show? It is a completely rational question, and one that is fair to ask the television watching public. But let’s not forgot, this is a show that, from the first poster ever released, did no try to hide the fact that it was based on some teen/adult things, like old fantasy tropes and Dungeons and Dragons. And the humor has always been dark at times, so if it is only getting MORE dark, it is safe to say this is the direction they wanted to go in the first place, only now with the show being so popular they have been granted the freedom to do with the show what they always wanted, which is to make show for kids, that adults might love even more. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.
So what has gotten so dark? Well, the scene where Peppermint Butler was hanging Cinnamon Bun upside down in some sort of Illuminati/Satan thing kinda freaked out some parents a bit. Which, I guess, is understandable. But what people are guilty of here is not thinking the show has gotten more dark or bizarre, but that they, themselves, have not been paying close attention. In the very first season of Adventure Time we were blatantly told that Peppermint Butler was evil, but were given no more to go on than that. So it makes sense, then, that we, as an audience, would finally get a payoff. A big pay off. And if that payoff bothered some people, so be it, because others (like myself) found it as hilarious as it was unsettling.
If this freaked some parents out, it is safe to say they missed all the blatant signs about Peppermint Butler up this point.
Here’s the kicker: This show is insane. Yes. But it is also charming and sweet. And yes, at times it can be very dark and very philosophical (or existential) which parents can find a bit scary for their kids, but guess what? We live in a scary world, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with presenting that to children in a way where it will be easier for them to grasp and understand it. You may have thought Peppermint Butler was a nice character, but I bet if you asked your kids, they knew he was evil, because kids are FAR more intuitive than we give them credit for.
But guess who doesn’t undermine kids and does give them the credit they deserve?
And it does this by not pandering. By letting them know at any given moment life can be scary, funny, sad and exciting, all at once. And if that makes the show “too dark”, I really worry about you and your kids. because that, my friends, is life.