Today, EW.com brings you our list of the 25 Greatest Animated TV Series Ever. In an effort to keep things democratic, we’re asking you – the devoted TV viewer – to decide which show on that list is the No. 1 cartoon ever ever ever. So far this week, we’ve covered two of the great feuds in Animated TV history: the never-ending Simpsons/Family Guy debate (essentially the Beatles/Elvis of primetime cartoons) and the arguably more interesting Simpsons/South Park dichotomy (which is more like Beatles/Rolling Stones, although maybe Emerson/Thoreau would be more appropriate.) But if I were to cast my vote for my personal favorite animated series ever, it wouldn’t be for any of those titans. Because I’m a Futurama guy, through and through.
To continue the music metaphor, saying that you like Futurama more than The Simpsons is kind of like insisting that the Clash were better than the Beatles: Even if you’re right, you can’t help but sound like a shrill hipster. Most people gave up on Futurama soon after its debut, and Fox shuttled it all around the schedule; by the time the show reached its fourth and (apparently) final season, episodes were being aired sporadically, with the series finale airing in the doldrums of August.
You can’t blame Fox, though. Futurama was a deeply strange show. And, unlike The Simpsons, it wasn’t tethered to any kind of recognizable sitcom reality. Futurama was nominally a workplace show, but since that workplace sent its characters spinning off into the far corners of the universe, each episode was really a geeked-out feast for the brain. The show also had a ton of heart – building the Fry/Leela flirtation into the rare will-they-or-won’t-they romance that didn’t get more annoying with time.
To me, the main divide between Futurama and The Simpsons was simple: Simpsons was an instant pop culture sensation and a massive success, while the first run of Futurama has the desperate soul of a show that feels like cancellation is right around the corner. Fear is often a great motivator for sitcoms – witness Arrested Development and the early seasons of The Office and 30 Rock – and it led Futurama to explore every nook and cranny of its cartoon universe. I’m a bit more lukewarm on the new Comedy Central Futurama run, but the new incarnation of the show still knocks it out of the park – as in last season’s mind-bending “The Late Philip J. Fry,” which was somehow utterly romantic and incredibly dark and weird.
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