A Comfortingly Whimsical Experience
By Eli Haynal
Released on Cartoon Network in 2014, “Over the Garden Wall” is a whimsical animated mini-series following the fairytale adventures of two brothers attempting to find their way home after becoming lost in the woods.
The idea of a fairytale cartoon suggests a childish tone, but “Over the Garden Wall” takes a decidedly different approach. Modern fairytales are usually told for children, but “Over the Garden Wall” has the plot of an old, Brothers Grimm style fairytale with darkness and mystery alongside naivety and playfulness, with a fanciful setting.
Wirt, the older of the two lost brothers, personifies the bleak side of the fairytale world. He maintains a somber attitude, and often holds a pessimistic outlook on life, but his awkward manner and glum mood endear him to viewers nonetheless.
In contrast, the younger brother Greg is the essence of whimsy. He is constantly curious, gets along well with outlandish fairytale characters, and frequently escapes dangerous situations thanks to dumb luck. His exuberance, pet frog, and stubborn optimism instantly win over viewers’ hearts.
The broad consensus is that “Over the Garden Wall” is quintessential autumn viewing. Literally speaking, the show takes place during the last few months before winter. And perhaps the two sides of autumn—the bleakness of oncoming winter alongside the beauty of colorful leaves and walks in the woods—are reflected in the two protagonists.
Viewers who prioritize the aesthetic experience of a piece of media are more likely to enjoy “Over the Garden Wall” than those who require strict plot continuity and a firm storyline. I considered myself among the latter group before I began watching cartoons, but they reintroduced me to a sense of wonder that I had thought was lost to my childhood years.
Adding to the beautifully crafted animation and storyline, the production also features a soundtrack that adds to its aesthetic. The theme song perfectly represents both the loss and comfort felt in the fall in an “olden times” style, while several episodes feature more-upbeat original numbers performed by the whimsical younger brother Greg.
Hello! The name at the top of this page might say “Elijah Haynal,” but if you ever meet me please call me Eli. I am a freshman at WWU this year majoring in Biology, Math, and Pre-Med, and in my free time I enjoy reading, thinking, and going places (although I sadly haven’t been able to do the last of these much this year). I hope you enjoy my articles and if you ever see me around campus I hope you’ll say hello!