In recent years, animated TV shows — especially those geared toward kids — have skewed towards the fantastic, with characters going on wild, and often elaborate adventures.
Created by former Adventure Time storyboard artist Skyler Page, the new Cartoon Network series follows Clarence, an unflappably optimistic kid whose boundless enthusiasm allows him to find the wonder in ordinary childhood experiences. (Page also provides the voice for the character.) Whether it's a sleepover with new friends, a pinecone battle in the nearby woods or a visit to the local burger joint, everything is transformed into a larger than life adventure.
"Skyler wanted to make a show that felt more naturalistic in tone, something that evoked the cartoons we grew up with in the '90s combined with a more modern sensibility," says Clarence writer Spencer Rothbell. "It's all about empowering kids and having fun."
Within this intended element of realism, the show makes plenty of references to popular culture. "We try to work in nods to movies and TV that have either inspired us or that fit the genre of that particular episode," Rothbell says.
However it's not all fun and games for the titular hero. The writers are also interested in exploring his darker emotions. "Clarence has good and bad days just like everyone else," Rothbell says. "There will definitely be times in which Clarence gets upset and sometimes downright angry."
The season will also focus on Clarence's relationships with his friends, and family. Not only will his mother, Mary, and her boyfriend, Chad, make more appearances, but an entire episode revolves around Sumo, Clarence's wild-yet-insightful friend. In addition, Rothbell says, "keep an eye out for horns, robots, and mud puddles."
Clarence premieres Monday, April 14 at 7/6c on Cartoon Network.