Animals: HBO's wacko blend of animation, Duplass brothers, and urban ennui

When I first learned that HBO has a new animated comedy show called Animals premiering late at night on a Friday (Friday, February 5th, 2016, at 11:30/10:30c to be more specific) I wasn't sure what to think. An attempt at attracting the Adult Swim demo, perhaps? 
 
animals
 
Then after watching the trailer and discovering that Duplass Brothers Productions is behind the show, I had a much better grasp. 
 
And speaking of which, here indeed is the Animals trailer: 
 
 
The Duplass brothers are Jay and Mark Duplass, an acting, directing, and producing team -- or perhaps mini-empire is the better term -- who bring a very specific aesthetic to their work. 
 
I'll let Mark Duplass, talking about Animals here, speak for himself: "That sensibility of what this show is, that really smart, acerbic, incendiary sense of humor that also has a touch of sweetness to it." What's surprising, amazing, and perfect is that Mark is correct and that he's at the same time talking about an animated show about animals in New York City which features, if the shows' trailer is any guide, a series of weirdly comedic little vignettes. 
 
Here's more background on Animals: 
 
 
Animals is written and directed by Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese. Mike and Phil play most of the main characters, with a slew of guest stars stepping in with voice roles. And that guest star list is seriously a ridiculous smorgasbord of some of the funniest performers on the scene today: Nick Kroll, Zach Woods, Matt Walsh, Wanda Sykes, Rob Cordry, Adam Scott, Jessica Chastain, Horatio Sanz, Kumail Nanjani, Marc Maron, Danny McBride. And that's just some of them. 
 
The show's animation style feels at once simple and modern. It also mixes in nice flourishes of color and effects that help to drive the story or point its trying to make. 
 
While some of the moments in the trailer were funny and surprising -- particularly Wanda Sykes as a horse of the horse drawn carriage variety bitter complaining about literally having iron nails in her hooves -- others were more of the, "Okay..." variety. 
 
Like all shows, Animals will need to overcome the challenge of telling some kind of compelling story week after week. Netflix original shows Bojack Horseman -- a near genius bizarro-creation fronted by Will Arenett -- and Bill Burr's F Is for Family have proven that an animated comedy for adults can be funny and contain characters with enough depth and writing and stories with enough hook to latch onto. 
 
With a very different vibe and intention, we'll see if Animals can follow that lead. 

By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

About the author

Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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