After 17 years of work spread across 7 seasons, Adult Swim’s longest running (and arguably, best) shows has been cancelled, as of September 7th 2020.
The Venture Bros. has always been one of my favorite adult cartoons, I used to stay up late and catch it on Adult Swim as a pre-teen. It’s hilarious takes on old Johnny Quest tropes that evolved into a satirical what-if take on superheroes led to an incredible amount of colorful, memorable characters and moments that I’ll never forget.
The characters within the show helped me understand dynamic characters in a different light. While most shows will show their main characters struggle through an arc and eventually come ahead, Venture Bros. often ended with failure, either spectacularly bad for our protagonists or equally as demoralizing for our antagonists.
Dr. Venture rarely succeeds — while he may get a foot ahead of himself and try to polish his image, he’s frequently battling with his greatest enemy, himself. Fueled by insecurities and the hole in the world left by his father, Rusty never truly overcomes his own personal flaws. Each season he stepped a little closer to the light, only to throw it away with his own issues.
We get to see so many heroes in the fictional world The Venture Bros takes place, but we’re often met with disappointing results. Rusty Venture uses his family name to pick up chicks, or pursue his failing Super-scientist career. Several of the “heroes” we meet are often hiding deeper issues or they are forced to cover up their own personal shortcomings.
What the show really is about, beyond the goofy superhero tropes and pop-culture references, is failure.
How do you even deal with failure?
Do you pick yourself up by your bootstraps, find your footing and progress forward? Or do you take the Venture Bros route, and succumb to the hand fate has dealt you and only hope you can move forward?
I’ve failed at a lot of things in life. I didn’t go to college, I didn’t pursue my talents until late in life. I wasn’t able to become a professional Magic: The Gathering player like I wanted to when I was 17. I gave away my collection to a friend and pursued a relationship and a minimum wage job that both ended up giving me nothing. I worked tons of soul-sucking jobs, only to advance a little before plateauing and eventually quitting.
It took me a long time to come to grips with failure, and how to accept it. Something that most of the characters in The Venture Bros. never will. And with Season 8 never entering production, I guess they truly failed in the end.
I could go on and on about my love for this show and it’ characters, but instead I want to leave you with this: Go watch the show (It’s on Hulu right now), enjoy some of the best comedy/drama of the past 20 years, and think about this: Failure is an option, but learning from it isn’t.