Posted by: ckckred | August 25, 2015

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever: The Last One Forever and Ever

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It’s hard to believe, but on Sunday night, after eleven seasons, 137 episodes, and one feature-length film, Aqua Teen Hunger Force has finally ended. For much of its airtime, Aqua Teen was a cultural institution; if not as popular as The Simpsons or South Park it was arguably just as hefty in developing the structure of the millennial animated sitcom. Through the series’ four primary characters, egomaniac Master Shake, the naïve dimwit Meatwad, the genius and parental-like Frylock, and middle-aged slacker Carl, Aqua Teen Hunger Force paved a major road in augmenting the eccentricities of adult oriented animation. Debuting in 2001 (though a rough cut of its pilot premiered a year earlier), Aqua Teen Hunger Force became a cornerstone in the development of Adult Swim, setting up the channel’s residence for surreal non sequitur animation and paved the way for shows like The Venture Bros., Metalocalypse, and more recently Rick and Morty. More importantly, Aqua Teen played a pivotal, if unnoted, role in setting up the basis of webisodes: the series’ 15-minute non-canon episodes laid out the guidelines for internet based television, establishing plot quickly and accelerating jokes at a rapid speed.

Admittedly following the release of the Aqua Teen movie in 2007, the show’s quality has gone downhill, yet the past several seasons (where creators Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro put the series under different monikers) have been consistently funny. Still, Adult Swim president Mike Lazzo decided to give the show the axe, perhaps for the best; whatever you think of Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s overall quality, its legacy is undeniable and letting the series end than go on forever may be better for its endurance into the future.

Sunday night’s finale, entitled “The Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time) (We F#cking Mean It),” ended in a way surprising for the show. After discovering Frylock is dying and his only hope for a cure is replacing his diamond with one from a planet of murderous clams (finally fulfilling the “Aqua” part of the title), Shake and Meatwad attempt to save their roommate’s life. For the first half of the finale, Willis and Maiellaro play for laughs, be it Shake miserably failing at a simulator, Meatwad trying to stop putting his finger up his butt, and Carl attempting to steal Frylock’s diamond before his death. Yet in the episode’s final eleven minutes, “The Last One” takes a dark and sentimental turn for the least sentimental show on television. Shake and Meatwad’s mission’s failure is inevitable; we the viewers understand the Aqua Teens’ incapability of success, but for once Willis and Maiellaro allow us to feel empathy for the characters who they’ve often killed on a weekly basis. Carl, who throughout the series has often been at odds with his neighbors, helps Shake get laid while offering emotional support to the trio in their journey. Moreover, the rivalry between Shake and Frylock is resolved.  The bickering between Shake and Frylock has been typically the centerpiece of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but for the first time, Frylock forgives Shake for his consistent selfishness, signifying the episode’s theme for maturity. Even more surprisingly, Shake apologizes to Meatwad for his abusive behavior all of these years before recklessly and stupidly charging into a perilous battle with a group of killer clams, ignoring his shellfish allergy while declaring “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever!” Even though Shake’s death is a darkly humorous moment, it made me choke up, seeing Shake finally admitting to his general horribleness before an utterly avoidable fatality. Frylock’s passing is even more tragic, dying because Meatwad left the new diamond back on the Aquatic world. Meatwad has always been the child and the follower of the trio, be he following Frylock’s authority or manipulated by Shake, and “The Last One” finally leaves Meatwad on his own. And in Aqua Teen’s final minutes, we see Meatwad grow up, getting married, raising two children, and paying the bills. The series ends with Meatwad and his new family gazing upon his old home, reminiscing about all of his past adventures before quickly deciding to move on. And so enters Patti Smith’s cheeky but tearful ballad celebrating the Aqua Teens, ending one of the most pivotal TV shows of the 2000s.

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Responses

  1. I need to watch the latest season of this. I love it so so much 😀

    Great post about a great show mate

    • Thanks man. I’m a big fan of ATHF, though its later seasons aren’t quite as inspired as its earlier years. It was clever on Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro’s part to name this the finale while quietly putting the show’s final episode a week later online.

      • I didn’t know that last part, interesting. Ahhh, such a great show. I might watch a bit now, I love Meatwad 😀


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