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The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

The Cat's Eye

“Over the Garden Wall”: kids show or not?

Photo courtesy: Cartoon Network
“Over the Garden Wall” first aired on Cartoon Network

“Over the Garden Wall’ was released in 2014 by Cartoon Network as a miniseries. It was a fan-favorite that many watch each fall. The show’s creator Patrick McHale brought us other fan favorites like “Adventure Time” and “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.” Similarly to his other shows, McHale has added whimsy, magic, and a bit of creepiness to his show. 

The miniseries follows two brothers, Wirt and Gregory, along with Greg’s pet frog, who seem to get lost in a very strange forest. Along the way, they meet characters like the Woodsman, Beatrice the Bluebird, and finally, the Beast. While the show is marketed towards the younger generations, the miniseries carries some eerie and dark tones. 

This show is most definitely marketed towards older kids despite its airing on Cartoon Network. This entire show would technically be classified as “Psychological Horror.” The exact definition of psychological horror, according to NoFilmSchool, is “psychological horror is a subgenre of horror. It focuses on the mental, emotional, and psychological states of human beings, often deconstructing their situations to frighten, disturb, or unsettle the audience.“

Throughout the show, the brothers are faced with harrowing experiences that are meant to leave viewers unnerved and uncomfortable. One example of this is in the first episode. The brothers are faced with a near-death experience when they are chased by a giant creature that they assume is the antagonist of this show, the Beast. The show repeatedly mentions the Beast, and yet, we do not see its face until later episodes. The mystery of the Beast gives viewers an eerie feeling. It was also hinted in the show that the Beast is always watching the brothers. 

They later learn that the creature is not the Beast but a stray dog that was cursed. Along with this strange first episode the writers gave us other episodes. One such episode starts with Wirt, Greg and Beatrice stumbling along a village. Once inside they learn that it is completely empty, wandering further they come upon a tent full of people wearing pumpkin heads. Once confronted with the pumpkins, Enoch, the leader, tries them with trespassing, destruction, disturbing the peace, and murder! In the end, he sentences the brothers to a “couple hours of manual labor.” While working the fields Wirt poses the idea that they are digging their own graves. His suspicions are only furthered when they find a skeleton in the hole Greg was digging. This episode not only taps into masklophobia, the fear of masks, but it can also bother people with taphophobia, the fear of being buried alive. 

The show’s ending is one that left many upset and unnerved. We learn in the final two episodes that Wirt and Greg became lost in the forest while they were out on Halloween night. Greg and Wirt go on a chase around their small town for a multitude of reasons. During this, they find themselves in a graveyard when a police cruiser shows up and jokes that they are trespassing. In the panic Wirt pulls Greg up with him on the wall of the graveyard. In the mayhem the brothers fall. They roll down a hill and land in a river. Viewers watch as Wirt’s vision goes dark and he passes out. 

The show constantly uses common troupes most psychological horror movies would use such as drowning, a monster, being buried alive along with many more. The entire show is covered up as a kids show with songs and comedic breaks. It never actually shows blood or any physical harm happening to anyone in the show. Despite the many, many things that could be disturbing to the show, the creator Patrick McHale may have answered why the show is set up like this.

 “‘Over the Garden Wall’ walks a fine line between harsh Germanic fairy tales and wistful, sepia-toned Americana- with plenty of other influences in the mix,” said McHale in an interview with Dot and Line “How did you balance one with the other and still keep the show’s sense of humor so present?”

When asked about his inspiration for the comedic show Mchale gave an answer that may surprise viewers. McHale worked on other shows such as “Adventure Time” while he was at Cartoon Network. Most of his shows have a fun sense of adventure and humor to them but surprisingly the writer does not share their love of humor!

“It was supposed to be a comedy, but I’m not really interested in most comedies. So I tried to just establish funny characters with a nice character dynamic and then plop them into a story that was more up my alley,” McHale said. “I know that my tastes in film are not for everyone, especially not kids- I like silent films and period dramas and stuff- but ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has a lot of funny moments. Its all in how you set up the characters, and how they interact with each other throughout.”

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About the Contributor
Taylor Birdwell
Taylor Birdwell is a Senior at RCHS. This is her second year in journalism. She is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the school newspaper The Cats Eye. She enjoys Journalism for the fact she can expand her writing skills and be more involved with school activities. While not working on the paper Birdwell enjoys art, reading, theater and music.

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