Excited for the new show from the ‘BoJack’ team? Watch these while you wait
After a rusty first season that quickly fleshed out its thin, zoological premise in favor of sharp satire and deconstructions of Hollywood, mental illness, and nihilism, BoJack Horseman has since become one of Netflix’s most critically-lauded original shows.
Last week the production team behind BoJack Horseman announced a new animated show for Netflix that will star Girls Trip breakout actress Tiffany Haddish. Titled Tuca & Bertie, the adult-comedy animation could work well as a spin-off that sticks to Bojack’s sitcom roots, as it features two 30-year-old bird women sharing an apartment.
Tuca & Bertie is set to arrive in the midst of a boom for adult animation. Major online streaming services have opened doors for more mature and creative animated projects. And while the prospect for a new project from BoJack animator Lisa Hanawalt is very exciting, in the meantime here are some similarly enjoyable shows to keep you busy.
Rick and Morty
Showrunners Dan Harmon of Community fame and unpredictable voice actor Justin Roiland have become household names in the world of animation, for an irreverent and surreal show that began life as a parody of Back to the Future. Now in its third season, the series follows the twisted, interdimensional adventures of Rick Sanchez and his grandson, Morty. Boasting moments of hypnotic psychedelia and the best animated action set pieces since Futurama, Rick and Morty is a must for any fans of BoJack.
Jon Benjamin lends his unmistakable voice to his role as the titular Sterling Archer. The series’ animation is striking, reminiscent of characters on the covers of pulp magazines from the 30s and 40s (appropriate for a crude take on the James Bond mythos and noir thrillers.) Featuring hilarious sex & violence, and a feast of quotable running gags, the series has recently diverted from its previous format to experiment with direct lifts from Magnum P.I. and Sunset Boulevard.
The last season of BoJack Horseman has become infamous for a startling episode known as “Time’s Arrow”, which pushes its experimentation with animation to the limits to explore repressed memories and mental health. Those seeking similar animated aesthetics should look no further than David Lynch – the curator of populist surrealism with roots as a cartoonist.
Lynch returned to the animated medium in 2002 with the strange, minimalist miniseries DumbLand. The show is written, animated, and voiced by Lynch, and is essential viewing for anyone left intrigued by last year’s Twin Peaks: The Return.
World of Tomorrow
Another surrealist – Don Hertzfeldt – caught the attention of the public with his nine-minute short film Rejected, which became endlessly quotable and earned a position as a cult film following its release in 2000.
Since then, Hertzfeldt has worked on a number of critically acclaimed projects, including It’s Such a Beautiful Day & World of Tomorrow, both of which combine strange and simple animation with existential dread and surreal humor. World of Tomorrow and its soon-available sequel are a staple of modern animated experimentation (although maybe avoid if the likes of David Lynch proved too odd to wrap your head around.)
Cyanide and Happiness
Starting with the online comic of the same name, the blocky stick figures of this webseries have become instantly recognisable and work even better in their animated counterpart. Each short episode can be found freely available on YouTube, and have yet to run out of fresh ideas. Never shying away from crude humor, violence, and surrealism, the series is perfect for a quick animation fix, with most episodes running for only a couple of minutes long.
As a counterpart to Cyanide and Happiness, Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat swaps crass, adult humor with British charm and visual gags, making this comic-series-turned-animation web show a quick and accessible chuckle. Like Garfield without the sarcasm, Simon’s Cat is an adorable short cartoon that draws from Tofield’s experiences with real cats. An ongoing series with 75 episodes so far, the feline antics are also available in book form and even as a Facebook game. Get involved!
Jon Benjamin’s second animated hit follows the exploits of the Belcher family and their small, seedy burger joint in a sleepy seaside town. With simple animation and wholesome humor, the series never reaches the cynical heights of Rick and Morty or BoJack Horseman, but it never needs to. Its characters have become iconic, and the writing is witty and charming enough to have produced eight seasons that arguably go beyond the peak of The Simpsons’ original Golden Age.
Creator Nick Kroll stepped right out of his roles as The Douche in Parks and Recreation and (another kind of douche) in controversial animation Sausage Party, to helm a series that swaps snacks & groceries for puberty & bodily fluids. Following the exploits of Nick Birch and Maurice the Hormone Monster (both voiced by Kroll), the ten-episode show manages to fill the void of Rick and Morty’s gross humor in its year-long gaps, while also offering a candid and understanding exploration of puberty for its teenage viewers.
Cancelled after just one series of six episodes, many fans of the movie starring Jon Heder (Blades of Glory) will be unaware that the entire cast returned for an animated spin off that’s just as awkward and neurotic as the original film. Though it’s debatable how well the source material translates to animation, the series is short enough to binge in an afternoon, and features familiar guest stars, witty writing, and offbeat scenarios.
F is for Family
Though Netflix has made a name for itself in the animation world with Bojack Horseman, its second foray into the adult animated comedy was slightly unnoticed, clouded by the experimentation of BoJack and the vulgar controversy of Big Mouth.
Leaning more towards traditional sitcom conventions, F is for Family is the perfect warm up for Haddish’s domestic comedy, and features one of the best casts of any animated show currently running. Featuring the show’s creator Bill Burr, the stars include Laura Dern (The Tale), Justin Long (Accepted), and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), as well as a host of guest appearances.