Binge-Worthy Cartoons Perfect for Escaping the Reality of 2017

If 2017 has you feeling permanently burnt out from politics leeching into every facet of entertainment, media, and conversation, it might be time to escape to an animated world currently streaming on Netflix or Hulu that knows nothing of the political hellscape that is our reality.

For a Dose of Nostalgia

Rugrats (Hulu), Hey Arnold! (Hulu), and Doug (Hulu) are there for you if you’re missing the staples of your Nickelodeon watching days. While I watched all of these shows throughout my childhood, Doug remains a favorite that my dad and I still watch together from time to time.  

The Powerpuff Girls (Hulu), Dexter’s Laboratory (Hulu), and Totally Spies! (Netflix) are available for viewing if Cartoon Network was your go-to spot for animated classics growing up. The Powerpuff Girls and Totally Spies! are great if you’re in need of girl power and crime fighting.

Inspector Gadget (Hulu, Netflix) is there for you if you miss the magic of Saturday morning cartoons. In a similar vein as Scooby-Doo and The Pink Panther, the series from the 1980s follows bumbling Inspector Gadget as he solves crimes with the help of his niece, Penny, and their dog, Brain.

Madeline (Hulu) and The Magic School Bus (Netflix) are perfect options if you miss shows from your elementary school days. I remember the joy of watching episodes of The Magic School Bus in science class and will forever love Miss Frizzle. Madeline sticks in my mind as a comforting show when I was home sick–there’s something about the predictable narration that closes and opens each episode paired with the adventures of the feisty, redheaded Madeline and the other girls at the Parisian orphanage.


For Something New

The Amazing World of Gumball (Hulu) offers a quirky sense of humor, an interesting animation style, and a modern glimpse at childhood that won’t make you feel incredibly old. The show follows siblings Gumball and Darwin on their adventures, which are often simple tasks like returning a DVD or babysitting that quickly intensify into hilarious situations.

Adventure Time (Hulu) has had a cult following for years. Besides containing an amazing friendship between Jake the dog and Finn the human, it has catchy songs, quotable characters, and emotional poignancy. If you like the goofiness of Spongebob Squarepants, but desire something a little weirder and darker in the vein of Tim Burton films, this show offers that in spades.

We Bare Bears (Hulu) delivers unpredictable plot lines and wit in each twelve-minute episode. The series is about three bear brothers who strive to assimilate with humans (Fun Fact: Panda is voiced by SNL’s Bobby Moynihan). I started watching it after several of my friends recommended it to me.

Phineas and Ferb (Netflix) had an eight-year run on the Disney Channel starting in 2007. Ashley Tisdale of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody fame voices one of the characters. If you like catchy songs and the predictability of Scooby-Doo plots and jokes, this show is a great choice.


For an Adult Sense of Humor

Bob’s Burgers (Hulu) is contemporary and self-celebratory without being blatantly political or conjoined with American culture du jour. It follows parents Bob and Linda, and their three kids, Tina, Gene, and Louise as they run their burger joint and deal with common familial issues in uncommon situations. This show was a staple for my friend group in college and remains one of the few shows I continue to keep up with.

Futurama (Hulu) aired in 1999 and ended in 2013 with its storyline set in the Year 3000. While some episodes are emotionally heavy and speak to issues still relevant in today’s world, the show remains light-hearted and silly, perfect for adults who love cartoons. Leela is one of my all-time favorite animated female characters. I also love how subtle and smart the humor can be in this show.

For a Throwback Movie Night

An Extremely Goofy Movie (Netflix) is a classic childhood movie for Millennials and definitely isn’t played enough on TV. Fortunately, we have the internet. In the ultimate father-son story, Goofy follows his son, Max, to college for fear of losing their bond. Extreme sports, disco, and family relationships are woven together in this hilarious and heartwarming movie.

Lilo & Stitch (Netflix) gave us “Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind,” which is a phrase I still throw around in friend groups today. It’s a great comfort-watch as you navigate friendships in the post grad world.

Kim Possible: So the Drama (Hulu) had me doing cartwheels across the living room when I first watched it as a kid. While I’m not nearly as limber or inclined to that kind of physical activity these days, I’m always down for Kim’s badassery.

Shaun the Sheep Movie (Hulu) is great if you’re a fan of Wallace & Gromit. While this movie contains no dialogue, it’s not short on wit and humor. Drifting away to a world of brilliant British Claymation where Shaun and his flock head to the city in search of their owner, this is perfect for people of any age.

Rugrats in Paris (Hulu) is something I still remember going to see in theaters with my friends as a kid. The Rugrats travel to Paris with their families when Stu gets a job at Reptarland, and city-wide shenanigans ensue. The movie also introduced Kimmy, whose mother eventually marries Chuckie’s father.

While many people are quick to write off animated shows and movies as something “just for kids,” their comfort, brilliance, and storylines can impact anyone. In times of trouble, these are the what we often turn to and find joy in. Whether you seek some fun background noise to your adult responsibilities or need a couple nostalgia-packed hours, Netflix and Hulu have something for every need.


Featured Image: The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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