Cartoons don’t just imply Cinderella and The Three Little Pigs (unless there are little kids at home). There is also crude, hysterically funny animation that offers the same suspension of disbelief as soap operas or dramas, allowing the viewer to be lost in a world wholly different to his or her own. Children and adults alike can watch TV cartoons, albeit for different reasons. Kids would laugh at the more obvious, slapstick-esque gags, and adults can appreciate the darker sarcasm and wit that goes over kids’ heads. Something for the entire family to love, these animated programs have a lasting legacy (though I do hope you waited to see some of these programs until you were a bit older!). Honorable Mentions to The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life, Garfield, The Smurfs and Scooby Doo!
Beavis and Butt-head (1993-1997)
The Laurel & Hardy of the jaded Generation X-ers. Two teenage guys from Highland, N.Y., who are both complete social morons. When they aren’t skipping high school, they’re giving their teachers so much grief that no one knows what to do with them. Highly obnoxious, offensive and socially inept, they are united by their love of rock music. They had no hope, either one of them, of being voted mostly like to succeed, to be prom king or to even get a date to the prom. Producing a spinoff, Daria, and a multimillion dollar grossing move, fans the world over continue to watch this lewd duo in syndication.
OK, yes it is technically a comic strip, but its variety of television specials and short TV series are so legendary, I can’t bring myself to leave them off this list. Charlie Brown and his classmates, such as Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Schroeder, Linus and Lucy, along with his dog Snoopy, and his pal Woodstock, are some of the most beloved, iconic characters of the last century. Charles M. Schulz began his comic strip in 1950, and it ran until 2000, the day after Schulz’s death). Our holiday seasons just aren’t complete until we’ve seen such television specials, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show also aired for 3 years.
South Park (1997– Present)
In its 14th season, these four kids seem to stay eternally young and their adventures increasingly bizarre. In fact, for the first three seasons, the boys were in the third grade and by season four they had finally passed the third grade and started fourth grade, where they have been ever since 2000. The premise: Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick live in the fictional town of South Park, Colorado, where they have run-ins with everything from their parents and the school staff, to politicians, deceased pop stars and fictional creatures (Manbearpig?)- even Satan himself! Stan and Kyle and usually the ones appealing for reason and sanity, while Eric is the most foul-mouthed, , bigoted, diabolical tyrant of a 4th grader in history, and Kenny has a habit of dying every episode, though his lifespan has improved in later seasons. Adult themes make it a wholly unsuitable cartoon for young children, but South Park’s on-the-spot satire of modern society, leads us to question which is more off the wall- their universe, or ours?
Looney Tunes (1933– 1969)
Talk about longevity, your grandparents even watched Looney Tunes as a kid! But watching Bugs Bunny walk up to his nemesis Elmer Fudd, carrot firmly affixed in his hand saying, “Ahh, What’s up, Doc?” never gets old. Despite the skunk’s offensive odor, who can resist the amour of Pepé Le Pew? And let’s face it; one of the most enduring questions of our time is whether Wile E. Coyote will ever catch the Roadrunner? Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzalez, Yosemite Sam, the Tasmanian Devil, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Marvin the Martian, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig are just nine more reasons that the Looney Tunes have lost none of their appeal and continue to be one of the funniest cartoons ever produced. Not to mention a huge number of spinoffs including Taz-Mania, Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Baby Looney Toons, Duck Dodgers, and movies like Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action. If you haven’t spent at least one entire Saturday morning on the couch splitting your guts, you are really missing out!
The Simpsons (1989 – Present)
It’s no easy feat putting on a show for 21 side-splitting seasons, but The Simpsons seems to have no intention of ending any time soon. Originally starting as a series of animated shorts for The Tracy Ullman Show, The Simpsons has carved out an unforgettable place in television history. Featuring Homer J. Simpson, one of the most loveable oafs ever to grace our TV screens, the show has managed to pull off being off-the-wall crazy while still giving us a spot-on parody of numerous American institutions. Through its illustrious run, the series has picked up 27 Primetime Emmy awards, delivered a feature-length film that earned half a billion dollars at the box office, and gotten Homer’s catchphrase “D’oh!” accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary, not to mention holding the record for longest running American sitcom, animated program and primetime entertainment series.