Laughter Rx:

Cartoons = the best recreational drug

Is it because they remind us of our childhood? Or is it that they’re associated with lazy Saturdays? Is it because cartoons are colorful and (sometimes) cute? Maybe it’s all of the above, plus pumped-up playful music, but whatever it is, when watching cartoons one can’t help but smile. So in case you could a lift, I’m here to help with these hand selected animated morsels.*

Surreality. The key to cartoons (what makes the best ones) is unlimited imagination. In a cartoon world anything can happen! And, unlike in the real world of real life where reality bites, survival– of even the deadliest forces– can be completely taken for granted.

*(If your favorite show didn’t make the list, I A. don’t watch it/never seen it, or B.“hated it!”/didn’t like it, sorry. Listed in the best order I could imagine, from untouchable (respect) to barely made the cut. The first 8 are my favorite 2-d shows of all time.)

Looney Tunes — Classic. Bow down to the cartoon gods who are Mel “the man of 1000 voices” Blanc and Chuck Jones. My dad used to boast that he has seen every single episode. My siblings and I were raised on this– as were our parents and grandparents, and we turned out awesome. Maybe it was the equally classic, wonderful scores.

-The Big Snooze
-Little Red Rodent Hood
-War & Pieces
-Sugar & Spies
-Rhapsody Rabbit
-What’s Opera Doc?

The Simpsons — Modern classic. The Simpsons are my Prozac: a daily antidepressant taken with my evening meal. This show is the balanced bridge between watching cartoons as a kid and “adult swimming.” I dare anyone to watch an episode without laughing. Except don’t, cause what fun is that?

-You Kent Always Say What You Want
-I Am Furious (Yellow)
-Angry Dad: The Movie
-El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer
-Catch ‘Em If You Can

South Park — Satirical masterpiece. Did you know that each uniquely animated episode of South Park is written and produced from scratch every week during its seasons? That’s how its contents and comebacks stay so fresh and snappy. Stoked it’s been renewed to air through 2018.

-Assburgers
-Hell on Earth 2006
-With Apologies to Jesse Jackson

Adventure Time — How many ways do I adore this show? How many times can I count the ways? OK, OK, I’ll prove the seductive power of this cartoon’s “magic, madness, and sadness.” Watch the following episodes, and then try to tell me this purported “children’s show” (psst… precocious projection in disguise = perfection!) isn’t deep.

-The Lich
-Finn the Human / Jake the Dog
-Five Short Graybles
-Wake Up
>>Is That You?
-Betty
-You Forgot Your Floaties
-The Comet

Archer — Finally! A comic style cartoon explicitly for grownups. The calculated violence of Wile E. Coyote meets the sex appeal of a Betty-Archie-Veronica threesome, multiplied by the witty sarcastic banter of Stewie and Brian Griffin. Equals a perfect trifecta of television-y goodness.

-Sea Tunt part I + part II
-White Elephant

Futurama — Another All-Time Favorite. In my book, it’s actually this show and not the beloved Simpsons that seals the deal on Matt Groening’s title as the lord and savior of adult audience animation. It’s pure genius + pure fun. Brainy, zany, intelligence + imagination unleashed– Good news everyone! indeed.

-Reincarnation
-Law & Oracle

American Dad — By far the Best Seth MacFarlane show, because, duh, Roger! Take the couch and all its hundreds of gags from enthroned royalty, The Simpsons, set upon it Futurama’s lazy kleptomaniac robot Bender, throw them in a black hole blender, and maybe wherever they’d end up on the other side, in an alternate animated reality of a parallel television universe, exists the home planet of Roger the alien. I sense some spooky quantum physics between Bender the Couch and Roger…

-Ricky Spanish
-Family Affair

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic — Sweetest forward-thinking nostalgia you ever did see. If you’re looking for something you can bear to watch while babysitting that has no chance of upsetting parents when later quoted by the toddler, look no further. The Bronies are definitely onto something. “Friendship is Magic” is like cartoon church.

-Twilight’s Kingdom, Part I & II

Robot Chicken — An homage to the glories, and all possibilities, of immortal cartoon violence. Cool stop-motion animation and celebrity guest voices. The theme music alone makes me chuckle. (it’s alive!)

-Easter Basket
-Celebrity Rocket
-Bitch Pudding Special
-The Rescue, 100th episode

Bob’s Burgers — Best captures how it really feels to grow up in a dysfunctional family (as everyone does). Bob’s kids, Tina, Gene, and Louise, behave like real complex characters. And that’s funny, haha and strange.

-Weekend at Mort’s
-Hamburger Dinner Theater
-Hawk & Chick

Harvey Birdman Attorney At Law — Fantastic premise. A lawyer for cartoon characters! Laughing all the way to the bank, I hope, because what a money idea.

- Death by Chocolate

The Powerpuff Girls — why on Earth did Cartoon Network cancel this show? Are they really going to bring it back like that rumor said? Do not sleep on The Powerpuff Girls. They’re femme, they’re girls, they’re students, they’re heroes, they’re kids, they’re fighters, they’re daughters, sisters, and problem solvers. They’re tough; they’ve got guts, strength, vocal fry and they up-speak– but they’re not ashamed of any of that, to be who they are, or to be different. In short, the Powerpuff Girls are the ideal junior feminist role models!

-The Powerpuff Girls Rule!!!

Aqua Teen Hunger Force — If you ever get so frustrated by/at the internet/technology you scream aloud, watch this 85% random absurdity to look back upon that irritation and laugh it away.

-Shake Like Me

Family Guy — Here’s the thing: after awhile (and it’s been a decade, people) this show is not so much funny anymore, but it’s still offensive. So I’m kinda over it. With the noteworthy exceptions of the classic family history episode, and all the ones where Brian and Stewie dominate the story with their time-traveling antics.

-Mind Over Murder
-The Griffin Family History
-The Road to the Multiverse

Rick and Morty — I’m just getting started on this one, but I gotta say, it sure smells like a winner. Check this out:

-Ricksy Business
-Rixty Minutes

China, IL — I don’t know this show at all except for it’s commercials, which I don’t particularly like. But then I watched this episode and it surprisingly qualified for inclusion.

-A Gentleman’s Bet

Major Lazer — Great music. Like one extended animated drum n’ bass music video. Awesome especially if you love EDM, rap, and reggae (as I do). You may need weed for this b/c it’s featured prominently. The only part I don’t love are the show’s the lame, yawn-worthy and sexist, damsel-in-distress plot lines.

-Bad Seed (pilot)

Honorable mentions (mostly kids’ cartoons I no longer watch):
Pinky and the Brain
Recess
Hey Arnold
Rugrats
Dexter’s Laboratory
Spongebob Squarepants
Muppet Babies

-Whitney Sparks