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Why animation is currently dominating television

“The Simpsons” is the longest-running primetime scripted series in the history of television. “South Park” received a Peabody Award, an award given for excellence in television and radio broadcasting. “Family Guy” became the first animated program to be nominated for the Best Comedy Emmy since “The Flintstones” in 1961. FOX dedicates two and half hours of primetime to animated shows.  Adult Swim has created an entire channel built almost entirely on animated shows for viewers 18-35. Seth McFarlane, a writer and producer famous exclusively for voice work and animated programs, is hosting the Oscars this weekend.

All this being said, variations on the phrase “animation is for children” or “I’m too old for an animated show” are still common in the conversations of viewers across the television landscape. I would hope most college age readers of this column know better, but if you catch yourself, I am here to tell you that you are dead wrong and potentially missing out on some of the smartest and most hilarious comedies available.

Not only is “The Simpsons” far from a children’s show, in many respects it is a national treasure. When I do catch an episode I am rarely unimpressed or not enjoying myself. If not for its influence on all modern animation and TV in general, the show must be appreciated for its contribution to the world of comedy by starting the careers of Conan O’Brien, Greg Daniels and countless other writers for “Saturday Night Live” and every late show in existence. If you have never tried “The Simpsons,” you are doing yourself a disservice.

Although “The Simpsons” is the cornerstone of FOX’s “Animation Domination” lineup, the rest of the lineup is no slouch either. “Family Guy” is in a similar boat with critics, but, when the show wants to, it can still be one of the most biting and entertaining shows on television. If “Family Guy” has lost your interest, the younger “American Dad” tends to take more risks and often outperforms because of it. Even more on the side of wild and revolutionary is the newest edition to the lineup, “Bob’s Burgers.” Occasionally so strange and bizarre that it could be considered “dada-esque” this gem of a show is only three seasons old but has already accumulated several of the funniest episodes in the genre.

Pushing beyond the broadcast networks are strong lineups of animation from both FX and Comedy Central.  FX’s “Archer” is consistently ranked as one of the best comedies on television by critics across the industry. Comedy Central’s “South Park” is still able to deliver one of the most consistently hilarious and intelligent cultural commentary available. Cartoon Network’s late night counterpart Adult Swim continues to push the envelope of TV conventions with shows like “Aqua Team Hunger Force,” “Robot Chicken,” and a host of other claymation shows.

If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check out any or all of the shows I have mentioned because, if you don’t, I guarantee you are missing out. Animation isn’t just for children anymore and, in many instances, is the best comedy that can be found on television.

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