“The Greatest Event in Television History” (2012–14)
“The Heart, She Holler” (2011–14)
“Mr. Pickles” (2013–present)
“Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter” (2015–present)
“Sealab 2021” (2001–05)
“Tom Goes to the Mayor” (2004–06)
“Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell” (2013–present)
From surreal animation to star-studded comedy experiments, Cartoon Network’s daring programming block airs some of the boldest content on television. Here are some of Adult Swim’s most underrated series.
Matt Harrigan and Carl W. Adams’ cop show has plenty of drama, which is sometimes undercut by the fact that the protagonist is a walking butt. It’s as silly as it sounds, but the hard-boiled flourishes make for some compelling television.
Brett Gelman’s three twisted parties brought lunacy via an ultra-specific spoof of the IFC chat series “Dinner For Five.” Whether gathering showbiz friends, family, or a diverse roster of actors together to discuss race, the shows’ descent into madness usually ended with a body count.
Over four specials, Adam Scott worked with a bevy of celebrity friends to recreate the opening credits of his favoirte ’80s shows, complete with a mockumentary showing the troubled process of producing each recretaion. It’s a wonderfully silly parody of Hollywood culture that pairs Scott with Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, and scores of other game actors.
A surreal soap opera parody in the vein of “Passions,” Patton Oswalt starred alongside Kristen Schaal, Amy Sedaris, Scott Asdit, and many others. Magic, outsized southern accents, and a general sense of absurdity make for a wild watch.
Mr. Pickles is television’s most adorable Satan-worshipping dog, and his eponymous show might be the most grotesque and violent offering from Adult Swim. There’s never much plot to get in the way of the quick action and bright colors, and an enjoyably random voice cast (Vivica A. Fox! Iggy Pop! Pamela Adlon!) keep things moving along.
Jon Glaser piles on the bright-colored accessories for this horror / sci-fi spoof, where he stars as a loony spin on Van Helsing. Steve Little leads a great ensemble cast of townspeople and baddies, and the escalating plot builds to some gloriously bizarre setpieces.
This “Childrens Hospital” spinoff is a newsmagazine satire featuring a slew of alt-comedy mainstays such as Alan Tudyk, Ray Wise, and Kumail Nanjiani. Naturally, the exposés the team investigates are insane, but the straight-laced attack makes for absurdist gold.
Paul Scheer stars in this wacky “CSI”-inspired comedy alongside his real-life wife June Diane Raphael, but the show is consistently stolen by the amazingly-game Kate Mulgrew. With attention to detail from the title on down, this warm spoof of the action genre is a true crowd-pleaser.
Repurposing footage from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon “Sealab 2020,” Adam Reed
and Matt Thompson introduced solid vocal performances (including Erik Estrada!) to warp this ocean adventure into a workplace comedy. Much of its DNA can be traced to Reed’s greatest creation, “Archer.”
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are Adult Swim MVPs, but their first project was a bizarre, Photoshop-assisted animated sitcom which laid much of the groundwork for their future projects. Their unique sensibility brought plenty of guest voices into their universe, including David Cross, Jack Black, Brian Posehn, Jeff Goldblum, and many more.
Hell meets “The Office” in this corporate drone comedy. Collecting souls becomes as dreary as any job as the hapless Gary (Henry Zebrowski) tries to impress his boss, who just happens to be Satan. Many of the clever twists, which color the bizarre infastructure of the afterlife, are courtesy of co-creator Casper Kelly, who wrote and directed Adult Swim’s viral hit “Too Many Cooks.”