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Spores, Molds, and Fungus

Pop Culture Miscellania

Brief Thoughts on "Jake the Dad"

Image from Crazy Cartoon Peoples

I haven't been keeping up with Adventure Time as much as I'd like. In fact, far less than I'd like, mostly because it's difficult to bypass that part of my brain that wants to see things on TV or DVD instead of torrenting them. I really should, especially with all the famous tear-jerker episodes that have everyone talking. I have been diligent and avoided (most) spoilers, really.

I love this show, I really do.

But I managed to remember to find a copy of "Jake the Dad" online, and I was impressed with this episode. Yes, it does almost the exact thing Bloom County did, but I'm not accusing Adventure Time of ripping off Berkely Breathed. Besides, the rest of the story was good enough that I didn't care.

What I liked about this episode was that, before the status quo was neatly resolved, this was one of the few TV programs I can remember where a male character is actually happy to be a parent and tries his best to be a loving, caring father.

I don't want any kids and I'm a lady, but it's always struck me as incredibly disturbing how one of the major activities of the human race is perceived as undesirable and scary by male characters, while female characters always accept it unconditionally. Such representations are annoying for both genders, and for different reasons.

While it's true that Jake loses his babies while taking them for a walk, it's only because he's overstressed from worrying and falls asleep, and those little beasties discover the ability to teleport away from him. Jake actually worries about his kids instead of himself, and his anxieties feel genuine and heartfelt, like I'd imagine a real new parent feels, though it's tempered with Adventure Time's weird humour. It just feels so much more honest and generous than a lot of other cliches about television parenting.

Which is why comments about Jake being a "deadbeat dad" had me expecting much, much worse. Shame on everybody for calling him that.

(And the same episode also had Finn, a goshdarned young boy, excited to see his brother's babies and trying to accept Jake living in a different place, instead of whining about not being able to hang out anymore.)

I suppose it's no big deal that Jake and Lady Rainicorn were capable of breeding, since Adventure Time is funny like that. I liked the bizarre designs of the puppies, although the face design for Jake Jr., a diamond-shaped opening surrounded by wrinkles, with the eyes (if there were any) covered by hair, was unsettling. She reminded me of something Daniel Clowes might draw, like that dog without orifices from Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. Brrr.

Still, fun episode.