Finally watched the last episode of Adventure Time
, which left me in a vulnerable state for the rest of the day. I've followed the show since the pilot/short came out while I was in college, and it was a show that friends and I bonded over together in our shared living situation with five of us crammed into one house. We threw an Adventure Time themed party at the house, dressed up for Mardi Gras one year, and I went with a pal as Lemongrabs for Halloween once. It felt, on the one hand, like the show corrected for a discrepancy in my childhood, filling a place that no show from that time in my life filled; on the other hand, it kept something childlike alive among my friends as we moved into adulthood. It hearkened back to the spirit and style of my favorite cartooning era (early animation, especially the Fleischer cartoons), it brought an emotional intelligence to television rarely seen in adult programming much less kid shows, and its sheer imagination, world-building, and comedic sensibility were inspiring. In the hours after watching the finale, it seemed like a phase of my life had distinctly come to an end, although the very nature of the episode (about time passing and what endures and how shared experiences will have always happened) suffused that with a bittersweet optimism, a sense of moving forward and looking ahead to new (and unknown) adventures.
tl;dr this children's cartoon really did a number on me
The show took a dip in quality after Pendleton Ward stepped down as showrunner, and I stopped watching for a few years after the sixth season, partly due to the first few episodes of the 7th season hitting a nadir. I finally sat back down when I heard the show was going to be wrapping up soon, and I'm glad I did. I'm very ambivalent about the narrative excesses of these later seasons -- most of the new storylines and characters like Fern and the Gumballs and Golb felt perfunctory and couldn't bear the emotional weight the creators wanted them to -- but there was still a lot of good material, especially the Stakes and Islands narrative arcs (the late seasons were best when they honed in on long-established characters and further developed their backstories). And while the ending was a clusterfuck as far as plot goes, it had a wonderful emotional clarity and the brilliant (and remarkably detailed) framing device really helped stick the landing. I'll miss the show, but I'm indebted to it, and someday I look forward to revisiting the first five seasons, which I haven't watched in years now.
Some pictures of Adventure Time hijinks: