Why is everybody talking about adult animation?

As live-action productions ground to a halt at the beginning of lockdown, animated projects around the world remain on track for their deadlines. This is largely due to animators being able to work remotely thanks to digital pipelines and tools (read our profile of five animators working from home). Adult animation has boomed during this time, not only in terms of productions but also popularity — and is well positioned to continue growing because of it.

Adult animation is now the industry’s fastest-growing category according to John Evershed’s white paper, “Adult Animation Finally Breaking Free of its Comedy Shackles.” Cartoon Brew notes this is being driven largely by new series on streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Quibi, with content moving beyond comedy to a wider range of genres like horror (think: Castlevania) and musicals (see: Central Park) to addressing topics like mental health in BoJack Horseman

Toons draw big audiences on streamers, particularly with more viewers having time to watch right now. Solar Opposites launched as Hulu’s most-watched original comedy premiere on May 8, with adult animated series having the highest re-watch rate on the platform according to Deadline.

Additionally, on top of creating original content, SVODs are also investing heavily into catalogues of existing material — with the most buzzed-about example being HBO Max licensing South Park in a deal estimated to be worth over $500 million. Hulu has even created an award for its adult animated series, the HAHA Awards (Hilarious Animated Hulu Awards), acknowledging the 40 percent of its viewers streaming the genre each month. 

To be clear, the adult animation trend began long before the pandemic — with streaming platforms and traditional broadcasters both having invested heavily in the genre. In 2019, Fox Entertainment hired its first-ever SVP of animation, Daniel Weidenfeld, and acquired leading 2D studio Bento Box Entertainment. Pushing into the adult space, the network has grown from three animated series (The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers) to seven in the last two years with the addition of Bless the Harts, Duncanville and upcoming toons Housebroken and The Great North during its Sunday evening Animation Domination slot.

Fox’s The Simpsons

“In the past, animation and live action were developed together at Fox; I’m the first person brought in focused solely on animation. We’re building a department to work very closely with Bento so that we can produce content year round, bring in IPs and make shows on our own or co-producing with other studios that we have an ownership stake in. There’s huge financial potential in animation and our goal is always to get to a 100 episodes,” says Weidenfeld.

Fox is the heartland of adult animated content, having originated The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy, and given a primetime platform to creators like Matt Groening, Seth Macfarlane, Loren Bouchard, Mike Judge and more. Notably, all of the aforementioned shows are family oriented comedies. 

“The bread and butter of Fox Animation has been family shows, and we want to keep doing them, but we also want to expand on that as well and make other types of animated shows,” Weidenfeld tells us. 

He continues, “We’re also expanding into animated dramas and are working with Jeff Davis, who created Criminal Minds and Teen Wolf, who’s building an incredible

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