5 TV Shows That Should Have Been on Adult Swim, According to Adult Swim Fans
Adult Swim is the double-edged sword of fringe comedy — they’ll greenlight any niche passion project just as easily as they’ll cancel the successful ones.
Ever since Cartoon Network launched its adult-oriented programming block in 2001, Adult Swim has been the de facto home for the comedy counter-culture on cable. Contemporary comedy fans who know Adult Swim primarily as “That half-channel that makes Rick and Morty” probably don’t realize that, at the turn of the millennium, Adult Swim was the petri dish for countless surrealist, subversive and hastily animated shows that changed people’s perceptions of what a 15-minute TV series aired at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday could be.
Not long after Adult Swim took off as the most unique and creative programming block on television, the traditional gatekeepers began to take note of their success, adding adult animation and weirdo comedy shows to their own lineups. In a recent Reddit thread, subversive comedy fans discussed all the shows that felt like they were Adult Swim projects but somehow weren’t. Here are a few of the top picks…
The Midnight Gospel
So much of The Midnight Gospel’s style and tone is directly influenced by projects like Space Ghost Coast to Coast that some viewers may be surprised to hear that Netflix’s surrealist, stream-of-consciousness pseudo-podcast didn’t originate on Adult Swim. Like any Adult Swim show, Pendleton Ward and Duncan Trussell’s animated series about a spacecaster named Clancy Gilroy who engages in earnest discussions with interesting figures from across space and time is best consumed in tandem with your mind-altering and mind-expanding chemical of choice.
There’s a fan rumor that J.G. Quintel’s slacker, surrealist comedy about the grounds crew of a park was originally pitched as an Adult Swim show before the Cartoon Network powers that be placed it in their daytime slot, so it makes sense that this series evokes Adult Swim vibes in every way. While Regular Show did manage to sneak jokes just for the adults above their younger audience’s heads, we do wonder what a slightly more PG-13 product would have looked like.
This one is obvious, as the antics of the world’s most unprofessional spy agency would be right at home in the programming block famous for absurdist genre parody. Fans who haven’t kept up with the FX mainstay all the way into its current and final season may be surprised to learn that the later seasons have pushed the parody/pastiche envelope even further after they exhausted the spy setup as creator Adam Reed flexes the muscles he built during his days on Adult Swim while careening across genres.
A deeper cut for the adult animation nerds, Ugly Americans would have earned its place on this list simply for the fact that it was axed after just two seasons. The Comedy Central Show starred stand-ups Natasha Leggero and the since-disgraced Kurt Metzger in the story of a social worker at the Department of Integration in an alternate reality New York City where zombies, demons, wizards and more non-human entities attempt to coexist with their homosapien neighbors.
Jon Benjamin Has A Van
Though H. Jon Benjamin’s short-lived gonzo news show about an erratic and incompetent investigative reporter team was a Comedy Central project, it had the strangeness and intentionally shoddy production value of an Adult Swim series through-and-through. Featuring one of the earliest appearances of Nathan Fielder, the single-season, 10-episode show is a cult classic comparable to any one of the hundreds of single-season shows where Adult Swim canceled a comedy all-star team before any of them reached their peak.