Sealab 2021



Cartoon "remix" pushes limits with edgy humor.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show's edgy, non-politically correct humor includes jokes about disabilities, the overweight, and affirmative action. There's one African-American character (who is the smartest on the show) and one or two females.


Frequent cartoon violence, though more is referenced than shown -- such as a description of an attack victim as having no more face.


References to sex are often oblique and include chauvinistic jokes and borderline sexual harrassment.


Some profanity, including plenty of "hell" and "damn" and the occasional "ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Occasional episodes involve strange drugs or drug-like effects.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature-audience-oriented cartoon contains edgy jokes about fat kids, mentally ill people, sex, criminal activity, radiation and cancer, drinking and drugs, and a host of other titillating subjects. Episodes often involve violence, such as when a monster attacks the compound and kills most of the crew. Most of the violence is off screen, but descriptions of blood and gore are vivid.

What's the story?

SEALAB 2021 is a quirky animated cartoon for teens and adults that's based on the 1970s Hanna-Barbera children's cartoon Sealab 2020. Combining footage from the original show with some original animation, the series follows the strange, sometimes-violent mishaps of an underwater crew of misfits. To explain the transition from the show's original, innocent version to its edgy, mature update, the storyline introduces a gradual insanity taking over the crew of the Sealab -- a collection of professionals that includes a marine biologist, engineer, and radio operator. The motley crew regularly encounters aliens, evil robots, amorphous monsters, and other strange entities -- all while undergoing personal crises like brain tumors; on-again, off-again sexual relationships; and murder plots. Many characters are supremely idiotic, particularly Captain Hazel \"Hank\" Murphy (voiced by Harry Goz) who's far from an ideal leader and often seems oblivious to what's going on around him.

Is it any good?


The show's humor is decidedly edgy; some might say it even pushes the limits of good taste. For example, in one episode, the crew wraps a child who is part-human and part-dolphin in raw meat to lure a monster away from everyone else. The crew refers to the boy with a variety of colorful, derogatory synonyms for "fat." Other episodes feature jokes about sensitive topics like affirmative action and disabilities -- including one chair-bound character's exhortation that he's not crippled, but lazy. Obviously, situations like these are meant to be jokes -- perhaps even spoofs of other shows where the prejudices are more underground. But not everyone will find them funny.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the effect of using innocent material to address edgier subjects. What is the effect of seeing children's cartoons with adult content? Can you think of songs, other tv shows, or anything else that's been transformed from kid fare to grown-up material? How do you feel about these types of transformations?

TV details

Cast:Harry Goz, Kate Miller, Michael Goz
Network:Cartoon Network
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of Sealab 2021 was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written byibarncat April 5, 2012

Cartoon remix pushes the edge of comedy with a lack of humour.

This is seriously one of the worst shows on Adult Swim. At first glance, it sounds like something fun to watch. There was an old show in the 70s that was about some people living underwater and it got infamous for being short-lived and overly politically correct. And now we have this, an alleged parody of it. However, instead of mocking the 70s serious cartoon's tendency to have bad, dull voice actors and extremely slow plots, it takes up that tendency. Ultimately, it is an extremely boring show with apparently no jokes. I actually sat through a whole episode and at the end I still had no so much as spotted a single joke, much less one that I thought was funny. Also, this show, due to its lack of anything happening, is much more appropriate for kids than the other things on Adult Swim, which are mostly for teens and up. That is not to say this show is recommendable for kids, though, because they will probably be bored by it due to its complete lack of any cartoony elements.


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