Cartoon Network’s Over the Garden Wall (OtGW) is a well beloved fall fan favorite. Every fall, memes, art and music trend as people get into the spooky autumnal spirit. It’s one of my all time favorite shows, and I’m here to tell you why you should watch it.
I’ve heard OtGW described as a true American Fairy Tale, a description I find very accurate. The show follows two brothers, Wirt and Greg, as they find themselves lost in The Unknown, a seemingly endless forest full of a colorful cast of creatures and characters. The story is charming, as we follow the boys trying to get home. They encounter friends like Beatrice, the talking blue bird, Quincey Endicott, an eccentric man driven mad by his wealth and the ghost of a beautiful woman and their frog friend, who goes by a variety of names like Jason Funderburker, Kitty and George Washington.
The atmosphere of the show screams Colonial Era Northeast United States, with the autumnal deciduous trees, the small charming towns and the cast of characters that truly feel like they’re from a different time than ours. It shows all sides to the wonderful season that is fall: the joy of harvest, the wonder of a forest full of color and its seamless transition into winter. It’s no wonder that so many have shown appreciation for a show when it so perfectly envelops its viewers.
The story is simple enough at first, but gets more rich. Wirt and Greg are on a quest to get home, but along the way, they discover a lot about themselves, all the while running away from the unseen Beast who roams the woods. This show explores their brotherly relationship, as Wirt grapples with being a responsible older brother and Greg tries to grow up faster than should be expected of him as the stakes get higher. The brothers are on two great journeys, both emotionally and physically.
The characters are one of the best parts of the show. Wirt is an incredibly relatable character. He deals with the burden of responsibility, his anxieties over not accomplishing his goals and the weight of a secret that rests on his shoulders. His poetic waxings, awkward interactions and plans that go awry make him a great character to both laugh at and root for.
Greg is the heart of the show. He’s the younger brother, and his sincerity and childlike wonder adds some levity to The Unknown. He is optimistic, cheerful, and quick to make friends. He is a great foil to Wirt, but their relationship is endearing and progresses in a very natural way.
Beatrice is the third primary character. She is a talking bluebird who promises to help the boys find their way home, all the while having her own unknown motivations for doing so. She comes off as sarcastic, witty, and standoffish, but in reality, she has a caring heart and is trying to do what’s best for herself and her family. Her development is probably the best of the cast, and her characterization is incredible.
The Woodsman is another amazing character. He is a lonely soul, plagued by the burden on keeping his lantern lit. He is mysterious and compelling, and figuring out his goals takes a while, but the payoff is incredible.
The other characters are all mostly one-off characters, but even when they’re only in an episode or two, they help to expand the world and make it feel full and charming.
The Art Style
The art style is simple but beautiful. The character designs suit their characters and the fairy tale style story. The faces are expressive and dynamic. Every character’s appearance matches their personality and the time periods they’re from.
The backgrounds are particularly stunning. The water color backgrounds are enchanting, adding perfectly to the tone and the time period. The show has been long praised for the artwork. It’s no wonder why every fall, the internet is flooded with art of the characters and scenes. It’s perfectly charming.
Lasty, the music. The soundtrack for this show is magical. There are catchy songs like “Potatoes and Molasses” that are sure to get stuck in your head, and masterpieces like “Into the Unknown” and “Over the Garden Wall” that encapsulate the feelings of wanderlust, melancholy and autumn. I’ll put the soundtrack on and listen to it for hours and often times will put a single song on repeat. It’s creative, unique and guaranteed to hold a special place in your mind. Some of the songs are truly creative, like “Langtree’s Lament”, or are atmospheric, like “Endicott Manor”. No matter the song, it fits the time and place, and it’s no wonder the opening song currently has 12 million plays on Spotify.
To conclude, Over the Garden Well is a timeless piece full of humor and sincerity. It’s only a little under two hours long, so it’s easy to binge and rewatch.Its perfect to watch with friends and watching it makes a great annual tradition. I recommend this show to anyone who wants a story with deep characters, an intriguing mystery, and a soundtrack to worm its way into your heart and mind.