A new adult animated comedy from JG Quintel, the creator of Regular Show, this HBO Max series is all about the perils of parenting and makes an excellent case as to why children are nightmarish to have, even if said child is actually rather sweet and kind. Rather than being one long tale the episode contains two different stories, but thematically they have a lot in common.
It opens with a really high energy and slightly absurd scene where Candice (Jessica DiCicco), the daughter of Josh (Quintel) and Emily (Gabrielle Walsh), is on roller skates in the apartment that they live in, but while she’s having fun initially soon she’s out of control and after crashing in to the wall and breaking the thermostat everyone almost gets sucked in to an air vent. It’s a fun introduction to the characters and also makes it clear from the get go that while certain aspects are realistic, this is a show that’s perfectly happy to be fantastical if need be.
That becomes even more apparent where after being chastised by Candice’s teacher for not having completed her part in a school quilt making project, where he threatens “If Candice isn’t able to participate I’ll be forced to give her an A! Which sounds for almost acceptable but not quite” they dump Candice on their friends friends Alex (Jason Mantzoukas) and Bridgette (Kimiko Glenn) and head off to buy fabric for the quilt. Chaos ensues off course, we don’t get to see much of Candice’s storyline alas which is a shame as the outcome of it looks amusing, but Josh and Emily end up encountering some initially charming homeless children who help them make a quilt in a sequence which includes a cute song from Emily, but after deciding to fuck in the street they fall asleep and the next morning they discover the”Adorable British Street Urchins” are in fact angry adults who demand Josh and Emily adopt them.
If this review was based on just the first part it would have been filled with criticism about this being yet another animated show featuring a white family that definitely owes a debt to The Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers, even if it’s a little more surreal than they tend to be. And also an issue is that in this part Josh is a reasonably shit character, one who I can’t work out is supposed to be deliberately annoying or childishly endearing, but for me it was definitely the former and most of the time when he was on screen he was responsible for some really painful attempts at humour.
Luckily the second part of the show was far, far better, and even stranger than the first as after Emily gets fed up with life in a cramped apartment that’s falling apart she heads off to open houses just so that she can pretend her life might one day be filled with the luxury she finds within them. But when she meets Dave and a child actress who also visit the houses to escape their every day lives the show goes crazy as they all get trapped inside a sitcom, which comes with its own opening credits, an audience who whoop and cheer, and they can’t escape the house either, as a mysterious static envelopes their abode.
This part is packed with some gorgeously funny moments, from Emily’s confusion as to what’s happening to the way it deconstructs sitcom tropes, with Emily at first doing her best to be so offensive that the show loses its audience before realising the way out is to just change the narrative of the series. Josh is largely absent from this part which is possibly why I enjoyed it so much, but when he does turn up he has some amusing moments and the ending is a nicely smart and funny one too.
It’s definitely a game of two halves, the first being a far too often banal affair with some forced weirdness that didn’t quite work for me. But thankfully the second is an enormous improvement, to the extent that its upped the overall rating by a star, and made it a show that I definitely look forward to seeing more of, at least if it carries on being strange and unusual and the second part isn’t a one off moment of madness.