Thursday, March 10, 2016

We're All Animals

     Animals is a new HBO animated comedy executed produced by Mark and Jay Duplass. The mumblecore duo promotes the work of Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano, two unknown comedy writers who submitted Animals as a short film to Sundance in 2015. HBO picked up Animals at the festival and streams it exclusively on HBOGo, their mobile streaming platform. 

     Animals is a really good idea on paper. Human problems and stories as explained by animals who act human. Plus the animated element means that really anything can happen. If you look at the cast it's a list of alternative comedies biggest names such as: Eric Andre, Aziz Ansari, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, and Scott Aukerman. Mark and Jay Duplass are indie stars and them promoting a young comedians work it must be good for them and the comedians.

However Animals has gotten mixed reviews at best. Maureen Ryan at Variety said, "It is unfunny, its animation is unexceptional and the studied banality of its dialogue is excruciating." It has a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.8 on Imdb. 
But why the intense hate. Even Mark Duplass is a little confused, "Animals is the first time in history that people have gotten angry with us about something we’ve made." To be fair the show is weird. Very weird for HBO. Structurally the show follows one main plot but has several vignettes. 
     These vignettes aren't even necessarily non sequiturs, often these smaller sketches are tangentially related to something that happened earlier in the episode. For example in the first episode the main characters, a pair of rats that are obsessed with making babies, watch a couple have sex. Later in the episode the woman having sex is taken out in a stretcher which starts a sketch between two police horses which cuts back to the mice. 

Duplass says it's because the show was created separate from HBO. That they did it their own way and that might be why people are not responding to this like they would a traditional HBO comedy. 

     As a comedian who hates restrictions I have to side with Duplass. While Ryan is right at points the show becomes tedious and drags, often Animals shows a unique and funny perspective on mundane things in life. I'm excited that the show is weird and with this show being streaming only it is a good example of the future of tv. Shows made by unique people for a niche audience. While Animals might not be for everyone, I enjoy Animals and hope to watch the second season HBO ordered at Sundance. 

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