Off the Air Reminding Me Why I Love 15 Years of Adult Swim On the Air

/u/Trill-I-Am posted on reddit detailing some of the history of Adult Swim on its birthday: “15 years ago today, Cartoon Network gave three hours in the middle of the night to an experiment called Adult Swim.

I can’t believe Adult Swim’s been around for 15 years. I watched the very first airing of this block live when I was a kid, way before I was a “cord cutter.” I was in 5th grade and it was only nine days prior to 9/11. I fucking loved it. Home Movies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Sealab 2021 are what I recall the most. These shows helped form my sensibilities when my mind was still gooey and I was growing up in an increasingly unbelievable and frightening world.

Even prior to this, I remember watching Space Ghost Coast to Coast, frequently credited as a godfather to the Adult Swim brand of weird, adult-centric cartoon content. I distinctly remember seeing that show and thinking it was some kind of programming mistake. Why is this on TV? Am I allowed to watch this? What the fuck is happening?

It was a perfect blend of confusion and enjoyment, and a sense of entertainment liberation.

Fast forward to late high school and my college years and Tim and Eric served as my Adult Swim flagship content.

Fast forward some more to after college and the beginnings of my “young professional life” and Rick and Morty and, more recently, World Peace have been my main reasons for caring about Adult Swim shows.

I still love the brand. I still follow their singles series. I owe Adult Swim and their bold creatives for Run the Jewels and Flying Lotus. I owe them for other shows I haven’t mentioned above: Children’s Hospital, Futurama’s reboot, Superjail!, Harvey Birdman, Check it Out!, The Brak Show, and Tom Goes to the Mayor. I owe them for keeping and expanding on their boundary-pushing vision and specific cultural significance.

/u/Trill-I-Am pointed out a show called Off the Air I’d never heard of before and holy shit I’ve been missing out.

Wikipedia: “Off the Air is an American anthology television series created by Dave Hughes for Adult Swim. The series is presented without explanation or narration as a showcase of surreal footage arranged around a single loose theme (expressed in the episode title) and blended without pause into a single continuous presentation.”

I plan on watching all other available episodes but these two on first viewing are amazing and the exact kind of thing I love Adult Swim for. Insanely trippy, freeform, aesthetic visuals and very little sense-making paired with music I love that I don’t normally get to talk about and never get to hear in TV shows (Zammuto, Battles, Dan Deacon and now some others I’m being introduced to thanks to these clips).

I’m watching these stone-cold sober and it’s filling me with that same confusion/enjoyment I first experienced 15 years ago. Thank god for experiments.

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