The beauty of experiencing Over the Garden Wall

Nico Lopez

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An+image+from+Cartoon+Networks+show+Over+the+Garden+Wall

An image from Cartoon Network’s show “Over the Garden Wall”

Every year when October comes around, I like to wrap myself up in a warm blanket, light a candle and turn on the Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall. Despite having first aired in 2014 and only being ten episodes long, I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the show. Using rich historical influence and old-fashioned art styles, Over the Garden Wall brings its viewers into a warm autumnal world celebrating vintage American folk themes.

What is Over the Garden Wall? Put plainly, the show is about two young boys who get lost in a mysterious forested land known as the “Unknown.” Every episode centers around a new strange situation that the children find themselves in while they’re trying to get back home.

The show’s creator Pat McHale chose to organize each episode separate from each other, but still connected. He described each episode as its own unique patch for one giant quilt, separate from each other but connected to form one larger product made up of all these separate stories.

The show is more than just a story of finding your way back home, that is to say, it’s not not about that, but under every seemingly bizarre and meaningless plotline lies the central theme of growth.

The show is about the two characters growing up, becoming more mature and learning to appreciate themselves and each other more. The theme of growth runs so strong that some fans have theorized that the thick forests of the Unknown represent purgatory. The show also has some uncanny similarities and parallels to Dante’s Inferno adding a new dimension to the show’s lore and mystery.

Not only does this emphasize the show’s themes of antiquity, uncertainty and growing up, but it visually separates the mysterious forest where the children are lost and the familiarity they’re trying to get back to.”

The miniseries is short, but it’s short for a reason. Without the short runtime, the creators would not have been able to pack so much content into each episode. Every episode features lush, painterly backgrounds painstakingly created by art director Nick Cross. Each background and element in the show was pencil-sketched by hand and painted over digitally. The backgrounds were based on various old-fairy tale collections such as the brothers Grimm and looking at them, many feel a sense of nostalgia. Part of this is because of the color palette they’re rendered in.

Every frame in Over The Garden Wall is painted with warm, rich autumnal hues. You never truly see saturated colors in the show until you see the characters’ memories of home. Not only does this emphasize the show’s themes of antiquity, uncertainty and growing up, but it visually separates the mysterious forest where the children are lost and the familiarity they’re trying to get back to.

Beautiful backgrounds, comforting vintage color palettes and an interesting story, what more could you want from a kids cartoon? At this point, is Over the Garden Wall even a kids show? There’s so much more to be discovered on top of the many things discussed earlier. This miniseries is extremely remarkable in the way it packs so much story and beauty and the way it attracts such different audiences from all over in ten short episodes. Whenever you have the time, sit down, get comfortable and press play.