I’ll start with this. Adventure Time is not a kids’ show. Or rather, it’s not just a kids’ show. Like how Spongebob Squarepants and Pixar movies appeal to both the kiddie and grownup sets, Adventure Time is fun for kids but actually pretty interesting for adults too. So good job there.
The show is an animated short, each episode only lasting about eleven minutes without commercials, and it’s pretty seriously strange. But I mean that in the good way. The show follows Finn, the last human child, and his adoptive dog brother Jake, as they have adventures in the magical land of Ooo.
Getting the strange yet?
There’s a distinct implication that the land of Ooo is actually our world after some kind of horrific apocalypse, but the series doesn’t linger on that, because, you know, kids. Instead, the show is about Finn and Jake and the adventures they go on. What makes it interesting is the nature of those adventures.
You see, it would be very easy to make a show like this where the main characters are constantly rescuing beautiful damsels and getting neat moral lessons, or fighting monsters, or going on epic quests. To be sure, they do do those things, but they also do other stuff. Like go on a great journey to find musicians so that a group of mushrooms can dance. Or try to convince a mountain to stop crying, only the mountain is crying because the village of marauders at its base likes rough-housing and the mountain is scared someone will get hurt. Stuff like that.
What makes the show really interesting is that Finn doesn’t discriminate between the two types of quests. He doesn’t view helping carry tarts across the kingdom differently than he views saving Princess Bubblegum. Every task is equal in his eyes, and that’s pretty awesome.
But more than that, Finn is actually a really fantastic role model. Not because he’s orderly and nice and responsible, because he’s none of those things. He never cleans his room, he can be kind of a jerk, and he is wildly irresponsible sometimes.
Finn’s a role model for one simple reason: he cares.
Finn is the last human. Everyone he sees around him is wildly different than he is, and his response to this isn’t to become jaded or secluded or to isolate himself from the world. He isn’t on a great quest to discover his origin, or find his birth parents (he was adopted by talking dogs that found him in the woods). What Finn wants, more than anything else, is to help people. To help everyone, in fact. Everyone that needs help.
What better role model do you want for your kids?
And sure, he gets it wrong sometimes. He gets it wrong a lot of the time, actually. But even that is great to see. Because we watch Finn not just try to do the right thing and then either have it succeed or give up when it’s harder than it seems. He tries one thing, and when that doesn’t work, he tries something else. He keeps trying. He tries hard. Because he genuinely cares about the outcome.
Finn is a hero, and his mission is to help people. Not because he has to, but because he wants to, and because he thinks its fun. How is this guy not a great role model?