Aqua Teen Hunger Force (aka Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1, aka Aqua Something You Know Whatever, aka Aqua TV Show Show, aka Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever) apparently died this past Sunday after 15 years of battling absurdity and surrealism.
The show’s pilot episode debuted on December 30, 2000 (completely unannounced) on the Cartoon Network and made its official series debut on September 9, 2001. After 138 episodes, spanning 13 seasons and a feature length film (Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters) the show seems to be calling it quits – but if you’ve watched the show over the years you probably are like me and have no idea if the show is actually ending or if it will be back next season with a brand new title (you know, like they did with Season 6’s finale “Last Last One Forever and Ever”).
But let’s assume it is done for the sake of, you know, this obituary.
There is so much to say about this series. In the early 2000s it was arguably the funniest cartoon out there and possibly one of the funniest things on TV. The Avant-garde style mixed with the most bizarre storylines made ATHF something to be discussed, laughed at, and also genuinely loved. The misadventures of Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake along with their neighbor Carl and numerous guests such as the Mooninites was Seinfeld-esque in that nothing ever really happened, but a lot of stuff always happened.
The premise (of sorts) is that these anthropomorphic, fast food items were crime fighters. The show’s opening credits (accompanied by an insanely catchy tune) seemed to depict the team fighting all sorts of baddies. But when you get to the show itself, it was just Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake living in their house in South Jersey (then Seattle, Washington and then Seattle, New Jersey) doing random things like hanging out with cardboard boxes, or taking in a mold growth named Ol’ Drippy as a new roommate, listening to the latest MC Pee Pants song “I Want Candy” nonstop, or hanging out in Carl’s pool as he talks about his love of the band Foreigner and Frylock gets a case of “Double Vision.” You get the idea.
The show is not for everyone. Hell, I even stopped watching it over the past few years (mostly because it was on way too late, I always forgot to DVR it and I can never find the Cartoon Network on my cable box). However, I recently rediscovered it on Netflix and started watching those earlier episodes. Pure magic.
Finding out that it was ending, I was compelled to watch the finale. And I’m glad I did. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the silliness of this show. The last episode centers around the crystal in Frylock’s back only having a 15-year capacity and the team needing to get a new crystal from the Mother Clam on the distant planet of Chlamydia. Frylock builds a simulator that he disguises as a videogame so that he and Master Shake can practice getting a new crystal. Master Shake, of course, wants nothing to do with the actual adventure until he finds out that he too has a crystal that is dying. As Master Shake writes out his bucket list (Sex – 50 times), Meatwad plays the simulator and easily beats it, becoming the team’s only hope for survival.
The final episode is called “The Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time, We Fucking Mean It)” so could they actually kill off the team? Yes. Yes they can. Master Shake is the first to go as he is eaten by clams while trying to help Meatwad get some crystals. Frylock is the next to go as Meatwad, successful in getting a new crystal, accidentally forgot to bring the crystal back from the planet. As for Meatwad, he survives. Gets married. Has some kids. Comes back to visit his old home to find it much different. Carl is no longer there. His pool is gone. And as Meatwad drives away, the credits roll and Patti Smith sings this haunting song…
The final episode felt as if the show hasn’t missed a beat in 15 years. It’s kind of sad to see it go but considering I haven’t watched it in like 8 years, I have plenty to catch up on and lots more hours of ATHF left. Sometimes it takes a show ending to see how much you actually miss it. Not Heroes though. That can still go fuck itself.