Cartoon Network was never a station that was shy about showing controversial themes to kids. Shows such as “Cow and Chicken,” “Ed, Edd, and Eddy,” and even more recent shows like “Regular Show” have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable to show to children. One of the shows that walked the fine line of child and adult humor was “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.” At first glance, the show seemed to be a weird idea that wouldn’t ever take off. It centered around two children who befriend the Grim Reaper after winning a bet with him. The idea is similar to the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” where a boy named Johnny gambles his soul to the devil in a fiddle-playing contest. However, as the show lasted seven seasons, something clearly worked.
Most of the show’s jokes were dark humor that relied on characters being beaten within an inch of their lives. However, this wasn’t like a “Looney Tunes” cartoon where the Coyote would be all dark and crispy after being blown up. Characters would be beaten to a pulp, have bloody red cuts, and would sometimes even have bones sticking out of them. Since the Grim Reaper was one of the main characters, the show also had its fair share of death. Episodes could consist of Grim, as he was called, decapitating thousands of stuffed bears, mutated chickens killing off people one at a time, or a cute bunny trying to kill off a main character.
The show also hardly ever taught children moral lessons. “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” was the definition of a show that parents said would rot your brain. The characters were extremely stupid, rude, and had no intentions of improving themselves.The show was unapologetically violent. The show even had sexual humor that often challenged the TV-T rating. Basically, the show lacked any quality in a show that would make parents want their kids to watch it, and that’s why it was so good.
“The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” was like “Family Guy” but for a younger audience. Let’s face it, even in 2001 when the show started, kids still knew more adult humor than children of the past, so the creators of the show took advantage of that by having some of that humor, but in a show for them. With the Grim Reaper also came the opportunity for dark and violent themes. Mixing in that with the gross-out moments the show offered made for a graphic, and hilarious experience.