Now wait a second, I know that sounds dumb. Kid’s shows are for kids, so a mature adult mind such as mine should be interested in stuff geared more towards that, right? Well there’s one main difference between kid’s shows and adult shows that makes me prefer them: Hope.
When you’re watching Breaking Bad, you know that there isn’t going to be a happy ending. It’s not possible for that story to end happily. Game of Thrones? Don’t choose a favourite character, because they’ll just die. Even Adult cartoons are just full of sex, fart jokes, violence, and other stuff that you just can’t have in a kid’s shows, that are all included for “shock value” but it all comes off as just… too much. Like these are the kinds of shows that teenagers would watch in order to prove that they’re mature because they can handle the subject matter, but the shows are held back by their relentless grip on the macabre and sexual stuff.
I know that the stories are supposed to be really good in shows like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, but I’ve already got so much terrible stuff going on in my real life that I’d rather watch a show with a good story that doesn’t leave me feeling depressed or anxious or that kind of thing. So often they’re too busy focusing on trying to hook the viewer and make them feel compelled to watch more, that they forget about how it’s going to leave the viewer feeling if they don’t keep watching. It’s one of the main reasons I never like watching movies these days. Always setting up for a sequel, instead of just making a great standalone product.
Steven Universe has just as compelling of a story, and manages to finish every episode on a positive note. I feel compelled to keep watching because I’m interested in what’s happening, not because I was left with a cliffhanger and now I have to resolve that. Gravity Falls has mysteries and cool monsters and a pretty dark atmosphere, while still staying lighthearted enough that you can just pick it up and watch it and still have a great time. Avatar has by far the most well-crafted story I think I’ve ever seen, and the most well thought out and believable world and magic system. (Most of the good kids shows tend to be animated)
I’d argue that the idea of an idealistic world where things always work out in the end, no matter how bad things get is WAY more compelling than “everything sucks, and everyone dies, but there’s kissing.” Heck, I’ve seen way more nuanced relationships between children’s cartoon characters than I’ve ever seen in an adult show, the only difference being that they just weren’t allowed to show kisses.
I’ve got enough going on in my personal life that when I watch a show, read a book, or play a game, I just want to know that things will have a happy ending, or that most of the journey to the ending will be fairly pleasant. I love when something can make me cry, such as with a really powerful character moment, and I’ve gotten that so many more times from a kid’s show than from any kind of media geared towards adults. Usually when something tragic happens in an adult show, I just roll my eyes because it doesn’t feel earned. 99% of character deaths in tv and movies these days are just shock value. It doesn’t serve a purpose besides just making the other characters feel feelings, and making the audience feel sad.
Anyways, long story short, I could list off dozens of children’s shows that I could recommend to anyone as being fantastic for whatever kind of thing you’re looking to watch, but only a handful of more mature shows. I just like a happy ending. Sue me.