It’s no secret that FOX has been, for better or worse, one of the most influential producers of animated television. From “The Simpsons” to “American Dad!” to “Family Guy,” the studio has been carving the landscape of adult animation for generations. But as a proud member of Gen Z, none of these programs have resonated with me nearly as much as the relatively recent “Bob’s Burgers.” Its style of character-driven humor, which combines weirdness with heartfelt sincerity, has resulted in one of the most beloved TV families of the past decade.
Now, “Bob’s Burgers” writers and executive producers Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux have teamed up with Minty Lewis (“Close Enough”) to produce “The Great North,” a show with all the winning ingredients of its predecessor.
“Parks and Recreation” star Nick Offerman plays Beef Tobin (yes, his name is Beef): a single father of four (along with a soon-to-be daughter-in-law). Among these children is Judy (Jenny Slate, “Big Mouth”), a fantastically-cast, artistic teenager who seeks to experience life outside of the frozen forests.
Along with the same niche humor and family focus, the new series also features the same animation style as “Bob’s Burgers.” It’s simple and goofy, and it embraces the colorful landscapes and starry skies of the “Great North.” Finding beauty within simple animation is something these shows excel at.
After the sporadic release dates of the last two episodes, the latest marks the start of a regular schedule. This one follows Wolf Tobin (Will Forte, “Scoob!”) as he travels across the sea to find avocados for his fiancée Honeybee (Dulcé Sloan, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”), all because she had a few dreams about guacamole. Meanwhile, Beef and Ham (Paul Rust, “Love”) try throwing a Shrek-themed party based on Ham’s memory of Shrek being gray and a big fan of beaches.
The plotlines are so strange, yet they are completely grounded by the characters’ innocence and love for each other. The best part about any good family, blood-related or otherwise, is the acceptance and even nourishment found in its weirdest quirks. In fact, one could argue that the thesis of this show, as well as its predecessor, might be that this is the only thing that makes a good family, as the members possess few other traits that are traditionally admirable.
Even Beef, the father and leader of the pack, tells his kids that their mother was mauled to death by a bear so that he doesn’t have to face the fact that she left him. The writers give sympathy to everyone. We all have issues that we need to work out, and rarely do we manage them in ways that make us look sane.
It’s also worth mentioning how great it is to have a comedy about a rural Alaskan family that isn’t just a bunch of stereotypical rednecks. There’s an increasingly problematic notion within progressive circles that people in red states are all bad, and this show serves to challenge that idea, especially in its admiration for the outdoors.
“The Great North” finds maturity and humanity within the awkward and the ridiculous. There’s a heart to these characters that you don’t often find in adult comedy shows. “The Great North” is nothing we haven’t seen before from the Molyneux sisters, but that’s not a bad thing. The Tobin family is fresh, lovable and loads of fun. I can’t wait to get to know them.
Daily Arts Writer Ben Servetah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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