Regular Show is a show about a bluejay named Mordecai and a raccoon named Rigby. They are 23 year old groundskeepers at a local park and interact with their coworkers Benson, Pops, Skips, Muscle Man and Hi-Five Ghost. Each episode essentially follows the similar structure of Mordecai and Rigby slacking off during work and then accidentally causing some extreme and often supernatural form of chaos to erupt from their immaturity.
Adventure Time also follows two best friends: Finn the human boy and Jake the dog (who’s magical). They live in a post-apocalyptic world called Land of Ooo and go on adventures with Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King and Marceline the Vampire Queen. Finn is the only surviving human and his adventures take him to destinations of the magical and cosmic variety.
From an animation standpoint, why have the main character in the fantasy show be human, but have two animals lead a more realistic show about the utter minutia of life?
The animation and creativity styles of the show support the theory that Adventure Time is what adults imagine childhood to be like, while Regular Show is what children imagine adulthood to be like.
Children see the repetitive pattern of adult life on a daily basis: get up, get ready, go to work, come home, eat, watch t.v., go to bed. Repeat. The narrative format of Regular Show follows just that structure with few overarching story lines and an emphasis on getting bored doing the same thing (work) every day because in essence, the show is a workplace situational comedy. But due to the overactive imagination of a child’s mind and their lack of real world experience, the simple task of putting out chairs for an outdoor event leads to a giant devil-like virtual monster coming out of an old arcade game and wreaking havoc on the staff.
Adults wistfully think back to their times before video games rotted away the imaginations of children, which certainly makes sense seeing as Adventure Time is heavily influenced by Dungeons and Dragons. The show deals exclusively with magical creatures, defying the laws of physics and bright colors. While the show started out more comedic, it has matured into more intricate plot lines and has developed characters to the point where emotional attachment is commonplace for serious viewers.
While both of these shows are on the same network, have the same short runtime (11 minute episodes), perform near identically in terms of ratings and are often the subject of cartoons-for-adults debate, they really service a completely different kind of viewing experience.