Season 4: Leans very heavily towards an older audience, which I think is a shame, but did not stop me enjoying it
I did not enjoy the second season of this show quite as much as I enjoyed the first, mainly because I felt the universal nature of it working for older children and adults had not been done as well. Season 3 seemed more balanced in this regard, but the fourth season is the first that seems to have really clearly pushed for a much older audience in terms of older teens and adults. I guess in some ways you could argue that the audience that started watching the show three or four years ago, are not three or four years older so thus tastes and what they are used to is also older with them however for me the show as it was worked for that age group already and the fourth season does feel like it would actively exclude younger viewers who may enjoy the previous seasons.
The reasons for this very much comes down to the tone and content of the majority of the episodes. Speaking as a man in his 30s who probably has no business watching a Cartoon Network show, I did enjoy the season because I have no children and the material worked for me. However, comparing to previous seasons it is striking just how much darker or more focused on older viewers a lot of the episodes are. In some ways this is no big deal because it is manifested in jokes that would just go over the heads of younger viewers (some of which are perhaps a little crude, but my favorite of which is a reference to the 'travelling players' device in Hamlet). More frequently though this change relates to the content of the episodes and a lot of this is surprisingly more adult, being quite frightening, creepy and overly random.
Demons, monsters and danger are not new things to this show; however the extent of it is much more extreme now. Personally I didn't overly mind it, but I think it was a tad overdone and it changed the generally enjoyable and accessible tone of the show, and didn't always fit with the humor either. The darker tone is engaging though and I appreciated it for having it while also more or less keeping the core of the show the same (albeit aimed older than before). The animation remains good and is very well done in bringing out darker scenes to make them a little more intimidating. Some of the characters have changed from the previous season visually and in terms of character, some of them seemed a bit off and perhaps not the focus they once were. Actually, in terms of the writing, this is an issue since Finn and Jake's adventures seem to take them out of the circles of their regular princesses, so previously regular characters feel almost like bit players in this season.
I did still very much enjoy the fourth season of Adventure Time because it does what it has done before, and also as an adult I did enjoy the darker themes and aim for an older audience. At the same time I do think it is a shame since previously the show covered a lot of bases without seeming to compromise itself for anyone, and that sense of accessibility is really gone in this season, which is a shame, but didn't stop me personally from enjoying it.
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