Animated programming has seen a resurgence over the last few decades, particularly when it’s geared towards adult audiences. With the current global health situation, animated programming looks like it will be taking an even greater position in our television landscape. That being said, this year’s nominated shows in the category of Outstanding Animated Program pitted the old guard amongst the new blood.
Upsets are the name of the game for this category with several different critics coming in with different winners. But the ceremony dropped the name of Adult Swim series “Rick and Morty” as winner of Best Animated Program, securing its second win. The series won its first Emmy award in 2018.
Cult classics like “Rick and Morty,” as well as the Fox series “Bob’s Burgers,” are long-running and are regularly cited for their writing and humor. The latter seemed the most likely to pull an upset as Loren Bouchard’s comedy is one of only five shows to ever win the category more than once. Even the dark horse, Netflix’s meme-worthy “Big Mouth,” was leaving many early prognosticators wondering if this category was anyone’s game.
Many had assumed the Netflix animated series “BoJack Horseman” would finally secure an award. The series, about a washed-up animal actor, started in 2014 and closed out its final season in January. The show, which many critics have considered the greatest animated series of all time, was open about discussing toxic masculinity and mortality.
The longest-running animated show, and the gold standard for programs aimed at adults, “The Simpsons” also threatened to walk away with another Emmy. The show has received a whopping 28 nominations over its lifetime with 11 wins. Many feared the series was passe, especially after it courted controversy and saw voice actor Hank Azaria walk away from playing the role of Indian shopowner Apu due to public outcry. Last year marked the series’ first nomination in over a decade, and that led many to wonder if it was due for a comeback.
The win for “Rick and Morty” will certainly make its fanbase happy at the expense of “Bojack Horseman” fans. That being said, the respect for animated feature implies that more adult-centric animated series will expand, particularly in the wake of current events.