by Paul Naumann
Cable is dead, cable is dead. We have killed it. With Breaking Bad finishing its run last year, there is little to be said for continuing to watch television for anything that isn’t SEC Football (Roll Tide.) Fortunately, with the ubiquitous popularity of Netflix and Amazon Video, there’s still a plethora of television to watch while you’re supposed to be studying. As television escapes to the internet, freed from the tyranny of network executives who will shoot down any idea that just might not work, shows are becoming more varied and interesting. Here’s the case for sitting around and watching cartoons for the rest of the year.
Rick and Morty
Since NBC’s cancellation of Community last May and the show’s subsequent adoption by Yahoo Screen, fans of irreverent comedy have reason to be cautiously optimistic. While waiting for that, check out Dan Harmon’s other creative venture: a hilarious, dark, high-concept science fiction cartoon called Rick and Morty. Rick Sanchez, an inexplicably absent, alcoholic grandfather moves in with his daughter’s family and takes his grandson Morty on all kinds of irresponsible mis-adventures ranging from criminal to outright bizarre. The show riffs popular movies and various science fiction tropes, though there are moments of inexplicable terror and unexpected tenderness throughout (Content warning: If you’re sensitive, check the IMDB page for Episode 5 before watching.) If you’ve felt a tremendous gap in your life since the untimely (though expected) cancellation of Futurama, this just might fill it. The first season is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and iTunes, but pace yourself. Season two will not come around until summer of 2015.
Avatar: The Legend of Korra
Nick’s Avatar series always seemed a little bit anomalous compared to their usual fare. The same network that brought you Spongebob Squarepants and Jimmy Neutron also has a beautiful episodic series based on a world full of magical martial arts? It doesn’t seem to fit. Perhaps that’s why Nickelodeon pulled Avatar: The Legend of Korra from network broadcast in favor of online streaming midway through its third season. The series is fantastically crafted, and easy enough to pick up if you haven’t seen (or finished) the previous iteration of the series: Avatar: The Last Airbender. Despite technically being a kid’s cartoon, the series has a tremendous amount of depth. The world of Avatar has its own mythology and cultural groups, a hybrid of traditional Chinese and Korean aesthetics combined with the thrilling culture of The Roaring Twenties. The show also deals with themes of globalization, terrorism, war profiteering, individual fears of inadequacy, broken homes and dysfunctional families: things that seem way too serious for a show that seems so bright and happy. The third season ended in August with a costly victory for Avatar Korra, and new episodes start streaming October 5th. Streaming of the previous seasons is free with Amazon Prime, though purchasing the seasons in HD is worth the investment.
Bojack Horseman is another trippy comedy that wouldn’t fly on ordinary networks. A Netflix original series featuring Will Arnett as an anthropomorphised horse-celebrity named Bojack Horseman; Alison Brie as Diane Nguyen, the ghostwriter hired to write Bojack’s memoires; and Aaron Paul as Todd, the guy who’s been crashing on Bojack’s couch for the past five years. Another comedy with a subtle melancholy tone to it, the jokes are rapid fire and rarely subtle, full of sight gags but not reliant on them. It’s a comedy of errors focused on the hedonistic Bojack, who somehow keeps damning and redeeming himself each episode. It’s not as convoluted and head straining as Arrested Development, but it’s got threads running through each episode. At twelve episodes, this one can be easily binge watched, though it may be too much of an overload.