More an opinion I'd like to put to people, but you're not really going to attract attention if your title doesn't sound like it's trying to incite drama. Anyway.
My flatmate really hates Adventure Time. She's a fan of bizzaro comedy and cartoons, but she thinks Adventure Time tries too hard to be quirky, and tries to make too many jokes that would go right over a kids head and instead be amusing for an adult viewer, unlike the subtle nods other cartoons give.
I'm kind of a neutral party, I've never watched it because it's never looked like something I'd be interested in. I was just curious as to what fans would say/argue back on this.
I don't agree about it being bad that they're un-subtle about certain humor, it's just a different way of doing it. And the key to Adventure Time is that it's a whimsical bizarro comedy cartoon, maybe the tone puts her off, cause I don't see how they're 'trying too hard'.
I never really get that whole "trying too hard" vibe from the show; I mean most of the jokes and humor is pretty fresh and original, and seems to come naturally. Nothing ever feels forced.
It's rated PG though. Most kid shows have slight adult jokes subtly add into them, just barely enough for the parents watching to get it. But Adventure Time tries to appeal to all age groups. So they don't have to worry about hiding the adult themes as much. They know that the fanbase IS mostly teens and young adults, and they balance the humor out so EVERYONE can enjoy something in the show. They don't treat their audience like gentle little children who constantly need their hand held.
I don't really think of it as "trying too hard" either. I feel like it was made to just be... "bizarre" as described. I have younger cousins whose age groups range between 5 - 9 years and they think the show is hilarious. In fact, I think it's genius (in an odd way), because it can appeal to both children as an innocent cartoon and adults as an almost dark, nonsensical humor.
Also, it appears as though the creators were actually surprised that it has commanded so much attention from teens and adults.
Finally a thread that actually provokes some thought. I have never actually considered this before, but I think what your friend is saying has some truth in it. They do try to be whimsical. But the they did so in an entirely original way. Before Adventure Time, people would probably never consider calling anything "Algebraic" unless it referred to maths. (And since you have never seen the show, they refer to things as "algebraic" and other random math terms instead of saying 'awesome' and such) The fact that the makers of AT invented their own set of slang sets them apart. And if that's trying too hard, then I guess they're trying too hard.
I think the biggest sign of Adventure Time's quality is how the charcaters are actually subtle. On the one hand, they seem like a little flat. But occasionally, you get glimpses into a deeper side of the characters. (Finn's worries about being treated like a child, Princess Bubblegum's desire to be a child, etc.)
So the show itself can be a little out there, there's a lot of subtlety with the characters to tie the show together so it makes sense.