The Best Kids’ Animation Of 2022

Sometimes, the greatest horror is simply someone saying “hi” to you. In episode 3, season 1 of “Dead End: Paranormal Park,” a girl is assailed by a vision of friendly coworkers secretly hating on her. It’s a frank, terrifying, and incredibly specific depiction of life with social anxiety and neurodivergence. 

Lifted from the pages of Hamish Steele’s comics, “Dead End: Paranormal Park” follows the misadventures of Barney (Zach Barack), Norma (Kody Kavitha), and Barney’s talking pug (Alex Brightman) in a supernatural theme park that’s centered around a movie star. If you like “Gravity Falls,” “Dead End” should be right up your alley. It has witty characters, including a snarky demon (Emily Osment), plenty of gallows humor, and some ghastly foes, like sleep-sucking hags and merciless demons.

The best parts of season 1 deal with the aforementioned panic attack, a game show in Hell, a genre-hopping adventure, a transgender boy’s season-long fight to assert his identity, and a musical episode. Season 2 goes on to tackle low self-esteem, fissures in a relationship, and coming out of the closet. By celebrating these misfit kids, “Dead End: Paranormal Park” breaks new ground when it comes to discussing queer struggles with nuance in a cartoon. The series is streaming on Netflix.

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