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TV Show Spotlight: HBO’s Animals

To be quite honest, it was a tough decision to feature another TV spotlight about a show that follows the life of anthropomorphic animals. Most of the draw to Netflix’s Bojack Horseman was the animal puns that occurred as a result of being set in a world where humans and animals coincide with one another in modern times. Yet, much like any of the programming on HBO, the creators of the show Animals take concepts with such a sharp, fresh approach that Animals truly is a whole another animal from Bojack Horseman.

First and foremost, the world of Animals is essentially the same as it is now, with human beings at the apex of society. Yet, in the show, humans speak in unintelligible grunts and moans, serving the show as a side story with no impact on the characters who actually matter. The animals that the story revolves around are our pets and pests for the most part. For instance, quite a few episodes follow the story of Manhattan pigeons, as well as rats. The stories personify these animals, which are in every way the least commonly endeared animals in the eyes of the public, giving them complex emotional backstories that nearly everyone can identify with. Many of the plots involve self-discovery, growing up, relationship issues, etcetera.

What makes the episodes so well done is that they tackle some of the most sensitive topics that a show could cover with common, everyday animals, which I see as a sly take on the prevalence of strife in everyone (even animals). The show’s writing is so sharp and witty that one almost immediately disregards any issues they may have with watching animals struggling with their mortality. The animal puns are there for those who seek it, and in many ways, most of the humor derived from the main characters being animals is often through ironic dialogue and visual gags. Audience be warned, this is yet another show that features plot lines that get existential and quite self-deprecating in nature. Much like a Disney movie, there are quite a few parent deaths and subsequent coming-of-age tales. In a way, the best way to describe Animals is that it is a show that explores a world where all animals were given the ability to comprehend and think about the world around them and themselves. The real joke, of course, is that ‘fortunately’ only humans are forced to deal with the consequences of having enough intelligence to develop consciousness. All of our mental issues stem from our higher intelligence, and Animals playfully points that out with each of their episodes.
Yet, the true draw to this show is without a doubt the unbelievable voice acting because it is one of the best casts that I have seen in quite some time. Ellie Kemper, Aziz Ansari, Molly Shannon, Justin Roiland, Wanda Sykes and Eric Andre all appeared in season one, and they are just six of the 55 voices that made up the main characters of that season. Season one also featured an amazing musical performance by members of the rap group A$AB Mob (A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg) depicted as cats that live in a bodega. The humor from the show in many ways comes from the delivery of the voice actors and actresses, as the entire cast is incredibly talented at invoking laughter caused by the idiosyncrasies of their voices portraying emotionally vulnerable animals.  

While this show is certainly not for everyone, Animals is without a doubt worth checking out for comedy fans. The cast alone should draw you in, and the impeccable writing should entrap you into becoming a fan. You can catch season two of Animals on HBO Friday’s at 11:30, or if you are like most humans, any other time on HBO streaming.

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