Bronies are so last year. The new kid’s cartoon that your childless adult friends will soon be obsessed with is Wander Over Yonder, which premiered this month on The Disney Channel. But unlike My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the somewhat treacly cartoon that spawned the “brony” internet mini-craze, grown-ups don’t have to wrap themselves in multiple layers of self-protective irony to enjoy Wander Over Yonder: it’s just legitimately fun to watch.
Created by Craig McCracken (of The Powerpuff Girls renown) and his wife Lauren Faust (who oversaw Friendship Is Magic), Wander Over Yonder is a throwback to the look and feel of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons of the ’40s and ’50s. Like those cartoons, each episode is basically a clever variation on a defined theme: Good-hearted space traveler Wander (Jack McBrayer) blunders into a perilous situation that he must be saved from by his cynical horse Sylvia (April Winchell), whose wisecracks are a necessary corrective to Wander’s winsome sincerity. Equally retro is the ’50s sci-fi look of the various worlds Wander and Sylvia travel through, which recall the sumptuousness of director Chuck Jones’ classic WB shorts.
Not that it’s all backwards-looking: the show’s main villains, the Watchdogs, are basically giant eyeballs with feet. I’m almost positive this look is an homage to Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, whose adorably grotesque anime-inspired paintings often feature mutated eyeball-creatures.
Wander Over Yonder airs Fridays at 9 PM ET on Disney, with repeats throughout the week. Fair warning: you will never, ever dislodge the theme song from your head.