As the years went on, Adult Swim expanded its reach from exclusively cartoons to include live-action series. And far from toning down the network's style, these shows are often even weirder than their animated counterparts. Here's a sampling:
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (2007–2010)
This bizarre sketch series may be the closest television gets to replicating a bad drug trip. Conceived by and starring comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, Awesome Show's bits are a horrorshow-mirror vision of public-access television. Backed by purposely terrible green-screen effects, grotesque Eighties-looking nightmare characters perform songs about poop and slur nonsense. It's more fun than it sounds on paper, we swear; and it's a blast to see guest stars like John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell and Bob Odenkirk let their freak flags fly.
Childrens Hospital (2008–Present)
If you ever wondered what some of TV's funniest comedians do in their spare time, it's this hospital-drama satire, presented in hilarious 11-minute bursts. Rob Corrdry, Megan Mullally, Ken Marino, Lake Bell and Jordan Peele (of Key and Peele) star as emotionally unstable physicians at a children's ward, whose exploits play out like Grey's Anatomy on acid. Expect horrific Patch Adams-ish makeup, random bedside make-out sessions and cameos galore; the show also helped kick off Swim's mini-wave of similar TV-programming parodies (see Chris Elliott's Eagleheart and the police-procedural piss-take NTSF:SD:SUV).
Just because you've gone into the Witness Relocation Program doesn't mean you shouldn't have you own reality show, right? Jon Glaser's demented faux-doc deconstruction follows a family that, despite having testified against the Mob, agrees to participate in a TV show depicting their daily routines — all while wearing ski masks and having their voices digitally altered to protect their identities. (By the series' halfway point, Jon is the only one still keeping his identity secret, which just makes his interactions with family and friends that much weirder.)
The Heart She Holler (2011–Present)
For those of us who still pine for the bad-trip brilliance of the late, lamented Wonder Showzen, this hillbilly psychodrama from Showzen creators Vernon Chatman and John Lee is the equivalent of a primo methadone fix. A sick Southern Gothic soap opera involving videotaped patriarchs, telekinetic Appalachians, ancient curses, lots of meat and a holler run by a cave-raised manchild (played by Patton Oswalt), it's equal parts side-splitting and nightmarish. Don't even ask about the severed ghost-hand sex.
The Eric André Show (2012–Present)
Genius-of-the-absurd Eric André inherited Space Ghost's mantle with this completely cracked interview show. Originally filmed in an abandoned bodega, the show is shot with purposefully crappy old cameras and features Hannibal Buress (Broad City) as Andrés seemingly tranquilized sidekick. Guests are a mix of actual celebrities (James Van Der Beek, Will.i.am.) and impersonators (Joe Biden was portrayed by a roast duck), and aren't so much interviewed as subjected to a series of non sequiturs.
Adult Swim now hits the airwaves starting at 8pm each night, and has stealthily gone from being a fringe artifact to a cultural force to be reckoned with. It has become the top-rated cable network for viewers in the coveted 18-to-34-year-old demographic. Recent additions to the lineup include Community creator Dan Harmon's Rick and Morty, about a liquor-fueled mad scientist and his grandson; Loiter Squad, a warped sketch show featuring members of Odd Future; and Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell, a workplace sitcom set in the underworld. Keep an eye out for Black Jesus, a live-action show from The Boondocks' McGruder, and an as-yet-untitled comedy featuring Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.
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