Database for Animation Studies


Situating Netflix’s Original Adult Animation: Observing Taste Cultures and the Legacies of ‘Quality’ Television through BoJack Horseman and Big Mouth

This article aims to expand upon a key aspect of Mareike Jenner’s work on Netflix original comedy by considering how the streaming network’s original adult animated series reflect developments occurring within the sitcom format post-TV III. Using Netflix original animations BoJack Horseman (2014–) and Big Mouth (2017–) as case studies, this article will consider how thematically complex, ostensibly ‘smart’ animated shows illustrate changing industrial dynamics and taste cultures. While exhibiting qualities found in preceding key adult animated shows such as South Park (Comedy Central 1997–) and Family Guy (Fox 1999–), including lewd humour, metatextual in-jokes and topicality, the knotty storytelling and ambiguous characterizations of the shows under discussion reflect links to other contexts of TV production. Exploring these links, this article uses BoJack Horseman and Big Mouth to explore current trends in animated television, situating their characteristics and reception within a broader network of influences. The author argues that the turn towards complex storytelling manifests both in inherited production tactics, changing taste cultures and in the multifaceted and multifarious potentialities provided by the medium itself.

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Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal
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