Let me reiterate; I haven’t thought that the show has dipped in quality at all. And for a show in the midst of its sixth season, that is no small feat. Near the tail end of season four, the show started to subtly shift tones. It went from a light-hearted “Lolz-n-farts” series to a show about characters. And while a lot of the tone stayed intact for awhile, over the extra-long season five, things started to subtly change.
I started to notice the hate around season 5.2. People got so angry when Finn and FP broke up. A few more months passed, and people were starting to hate on the series with the airing of “Betty” and “Red Throne” (two episodes that, had they aired earlier in the series, would have been hailed as classics). With the start of season six, something strange happened. People were starting to expect too much out of the show.
I, for the longest time, have held that season four is/was the best season, but then, the other day, I rewatched all of it the other day and realized that I think I like season 5 better. I came to the realization that for almost a year, I occupied this mental rut in which I told myself that the best days of Adventure Time were in the past and that current episodes of Adventure Time couldn’t match what had already happened. I began to inflate my love for season four to such heights, that when a new, awesome episode aired (like “Betty” or “Billy’s Bucket List”), I would compare these episodes to my inflated sense of the past. In essence, I was disappointing myself with RIDICULOUS headcanons.
Finally, I realized that the “dip” people on the Internet were talking about was because people were letting these sorts of preconceived notions get the better of their judgment. People love to hurl the “AT-was-better-back-in-[season]” because they are clouded by their biases. Adventure Time is still good (if not better), but the tone and style is different, and that’s what people are noticing. The show is different. Some fans are seeing this change in an extremely negative light, but I for one, think it’s great.
An excellent example of this was the impact of the episode “Breezy”. I thought that episode was very mature, interesting, and relatable. Many, many fans HATED the episode, because they thought Finn was acting out of character, or that his actions were despicable. Unfortunately, not many people seem to realize that a main character can do something that is unlikable, but that doesn’t mean the show is bad, it just means that we are not supposed to approve of what said character does. In “Breezy”, the audience was not supposed to approve of what Finn was doing. This was a complete change in how Adventure Time had previously approached stories (in that, Finn was usually the guy you rooted for). I liked this change, because no one is truly perfect, and it made sense for Finn to stumble. Plus, the ending of the episode seemed to show that Finn was “reborn” in a sense, and episodes like “Something Big” showed that his hero nature has returned in some sense.
Adventure Time is still good. In fact, Adventure Time is great (I, for one, think season six might be its best season yet). However, some fans are just not comfortable with change.
(Note: This post is based on a modified post I wrote on the A.V. Club article for “Ghost Fly”)