Barra O’Drisceoil talks about the new Cartoon Network show Infinity Train and how it tackles mature themes.
In 2016, Cartoon Network launched a pilot episode for a show called Infinity Train on their YouTube channel. The popularity of this pilot was so massive (reaching almost 5 million views), the cry from fans to make it into a regular scheduled show on the network was somewhat successful. It did make it on the channel, but as a mini-series, which in the end worked much better for the show. However, when the mini-series came out it was more different than I could have expected.
The show centres around a young teenager named Tulip, a child of divorced parents who runs away from home after her parents can’t bring her to game design camp. While running away, a train suddenly pulls up in front of her. After she boards the train, she wakes up she finds that she is stuck on this train with no way out and notices a mysterious number on her hand. It is up to her, a corgi called Atticus and a robot with a split personality named One-One to try to get her to reach the front of the train and escape.
What really surprised me about the show was the theme of acceptance and letting go of the past. It was very clear that Tulip was bothered by her parents not being together and the show deals with her coming to terms with it. I wish I saw material like this on TV more frequently as a child. Not just a character coming to terms with change, but a character whose parents are divorced. Growing up as a child of divorce really made me feel different to other boys in my school, because not only did it seem like everyone else in school had happily married parents, it was the same on TV too. Because of this, I really found myself relating to Tulip throughout the course of the series. One episode in particular highlights Tulip’s point of view on the situation— she tried changing the past in her memory because it feels right that her parents were happy until they suddenly got divorced. Characters and stories like this teach an important lesson; you have to accept that you can’t change the past, but it is okay, as the future is yours for the making.
The show also brings up another important topic, which is how we treat people who are younger than us. While we often see cartoons present themselves to appear to the demographic they are made for, it is quite seldom that we see a show take its audience, no matter the age, seriously. It is by no means the first show to do this successfully (Adventure Time and Young Justice have both done this superbly), but it is quite refreshing to watch a cartoon that doesn’t rely on bodily fluid jokes but instead incorporates mature themes in a way that is accessible to everybody. It makes a big difference; it makes subjects that are hard to explain to some audiences accessible and easier to talk about.
I highly recommend this show, because as well as presenting important themes and lessons, it is such an entertaining watch, with some very unexpected twists. I believe it is the most slept-on show of the year.