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Why Adventure Time Is the Coolest Show on TV Right Now

Neil Patrick Harris, Scene from ADVENTURE TIME, Andy Samberg AFP PHOTO/VALERIE MACON/Getty Images; Cartoon Network; Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

If you're able to hear a turn of phrase as wickedly twisted and strange as "purple Valley Girl-accented space cloud obsessed with her hot body" or "rainbow-colored unicorn that's fluent in Korean" without raising at least one eyebrow, then you're already a fan of Cartoon Network's wildly subversive breakout animated hit, Adventure Time.

Spare yourself the embarrassment of making up an elaborate backstory about children you don't actually have—you're hardly the only grown-up watching.

After being on the air for a little more than two years, Adventure Time has amassed a super-passionate fan base of kids and adults—including loads of famous ones—who are drawn to the show's eye-popping visuals, imaginative storytelling and off-kilter humor. Inspired by creator Pendleton Ward's childhood obsession with Dungeons & Dragons, the show centers around Finn, an ever-courageous hero in the throes of adolescence, and his best friend Jake, an elasticized, shapeshifting dog, as they traverse the Land of Ooo and quench their undying thirst for quests and adventure.

See what Matthew Broderick did for Adventure Time

A typical episode might find our heroes being transformed into a giant foot or trying to rescue princesses shaped like raspberries and hot dogs. There's also an underlying darkness to the show (Ooo is actually recovering from nuclear war) that has attracted the participation of loads of guest stars—Neil Patrick Harris, Andy Samberg and Henry Rollins, to name but a few. Even controversial rapper Tyler, The Creator included a lyric about relaxing with an episode of the show on his breakthrough single, Yonkers.

Amazing as it is, AT is hardly the first kids' show to earn itself a cult following of college kids and parents who can't stand another five minutes of Dora the Explorer. Predecessors like Rocky & Bullwinkle, Animaniacs and Ren & Stimpy laid the groundwork for injecting cheeky double entendres and left-field pop culture references into standard kiddie fare years ago.

Stars including Samberg and Jack Black have also made memorable cameos in Nickelodeon's for-the-preschooler-in-all-of-us triumph Yo Gabba Gabba

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But Adventure Time shows a rare willingness to inject pathos and genuine sadness into its candy-colored ADD universe. A recent Christmas-themed episode centered around The Ice King, the show's central antagonist, who appeared to make an argument about the importance of not abandoning friends during periods of mental illness. Other episodes have dealt with fan-favorite vampire character Marceline's feelings of abandonment from her father. That's more emotional terrain than even Tyra might cover.

Of course, Adventure Time is mostly about making viewers grin with crazy plotlines and the kind of boundless creative energy that's matched only by NBC's equally bananas Community. With its extra-cute character design (how can you not awwww at the sight of Peppermint Butler?) and penchant for relentless action and violence, AT has a little something for everyone.

If you haven't boarded this amazing bandwagon already, the time is now.

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