Friday, October 10, 2014

In defense of Teen Titans Go!


Yes, I'm going to defend Teen Titans Go, one of the most maligned superhero cartoon shows in history and the current champion for hated on animated shows.  Now I am admittedly inclined to defend some things and people that are hated on (DC's New 52, Agents of Shield, John Cena) and as with those things I feel I am justified and that the haters are being flat out stuck on stupid.  Is Teen Titans Go! a dopey, goofy kids show?  Yes!  Is it the last thing a 'serious' comic fan should spend their time watching?  Maybe.  Was it an absolute travesty to cancel Young Justice with this on deck?  Yes and no.  (Cancelling Young Justice was a lousy move regardless of Cartoon  Network had lined up next; that it was Teen Titans Go doesn't make the decision any better or worse.)  Was anyone really clamoring for this kind of show?  Not really.  So why am I sticking up for it?  Two reasons, really.

  • Kids need something - Most of the superhero-related media today is geared towards teens and adults.  The books certainly are, and have been for some time.  The live movies have violence and enough adult language to get PG-13 ratings across the board.  And now even the animated movies have some profanity to go along with the violence (which is more like the live action movies) and even some sexual innuendo (see the Suicide Squad-centered Assault on Arkham).  Parents who grew up on the Super Friends and now are back into the genre do want to be able to share their experience with their kids without having to explain why Thomas Wayne shot Professor Zoom in the head (from the Flashpoint Paradox animated movie) or why Harley Quinn was  disrobing and giggling in a bedroom with Deashot before they went on their mission in Assault on Arkham.  There's more than enough material out there for 40-year old me to get my serious action fix.  I don't have to have it all.
  • The show isn't bad at all - Yes it's goofy and all, but it's really a respectful send up of the DC universe, one that applies a tongue in cheek approach to the lives of teenagers who sit around all day waiting for some bad guy to pop up that needs dealing with.  Instead of sitting around carefully monitoring the situation they do what teenagers would do....mainly goof off and get themselves into all kinds of dopey predicaments.  And the show is actually funny even for adults if you sit down and watch it.  The humor is wild and crazy enough for kids but smart enough for their parents.  The Adam West Batman TV show was so campy it almost singlehandedly birthed the more serious tone of comics and movies, and the Batman Animated series that came 30 years afterward did serious without being too adult for the kids.  And people my age all want that every time out.  But you can do funny without spiraling into camp and Teen Titans Go nails that pretty good.

The real anger towards the show is for the reason I mentioned early, Young Justice getting cancelled.  Young Justice was based around the sidekicks/younger members of superhero teams, and centered it's stories around their struggle to gain acceptance from the older Justice League Members while facing the same enemies and dangers.  It was really well done, and was on a par with the rest of the animated universe DC has so well put together in the 90s and 2000s.  It had just finished its second season and was a big hit with comic book fans.  And then the plug was pulled, largely because they weren't selling enough toys based on the show.  And them shortly afterward, Teen Titans Go debuted on the same network.  Some of the same characters were on both shows, but instead of the serious show we'd just lost were handed a comedy show geared towards kids. So a lot of us revolted and said it sucked, without even watching an entire episode.  It's obviously not the same show as Young Justice but that doesn't mean it isn't entertaining.  And Young Justice was going away even without this show in the wings.  It wasn't fulfilling the purpose the network intended either in it's audience demographics or in merchandise sales.  It is what it is.  I'm not saying you must watch the show and like it, but apparently some people do.  And upon further review, I happen to be one of them. 

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