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King of the Hill creators Greg Daniels and Mike Judge are back in business.
More than 25 years since Fox launched the beloved animated comedy, Daniels and Judge have reunited to form an animation company, Bandera Entertainment, and want to expand the format to include as many subgenres as live-action fare.
The duo has spent the past couple of years building up a slate of more than a dozen animated series in various stages of development at Bandera, where they work alongside former YouTube head of originals Dustin Davis on a programming roster that includes Netflix’s newly ordered Bad Crimes, starring Nicole Byer and Lauren Lapkus. The series, from creator and former Reductress editor Nicole Silverberg (Full Frontal With Samantha Bee), is described as an “adult animation dark comedy procedural” and represents the types of boundary-pushing programming Daniels and Judge want Bandera to represent.
“We were very excited to go into different tones and different styles and try to expand the animation art form,” Daniels tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re in a golden age for content, right? That’s animation, too. That was one of the things we were talking about in founding the company: ‘Let’s push animation into all these different genres.'”
Bad Crimes — formally picked up with a 10-episode order at Netflix — is the second show to be greenlit at Bandera, joining Freeform’s previously announced Praise Petey. While Bandera would rather keep the specifics under wraps for now, other shows in various stages of development at the company are from a who’s who of comedians and artists: Sacha Baron Cohen (“A very funny children’s show,” Judge says), Silicon Valley alum Zach Woods, Jimmy O. Yang of Daniels’ Space Force, tattoo/graffiti artist Mr. Cartoon (“We want to bring his style into animation,” Judge notes), Alison Bechdel’s iconic Dykes to Watch Out For with Carrie Brownstein, and, while they’re not ready to share official details, the return of former Fox favorite King of the Hill. Several others, including a show Daniels describes as “if Breaking Bad was a half-hour comedy,” are in the works.
“Mostly what Bandera is doing is trying to get us in more of a supervisory role; that’s what we’ve been really concentrating on: using our taste and the people we’ve worked with and trying to help other people achieve their visions that we think are cool,” Daniels says. Adds Judge: “There’s one show that I might be a co-creator of, but the rest, it’s mentoring other people and getting people together and being a studio in that regard.”
To hear Judge and Daniels tell it, the seeds for what became Bandera were planted around a couple of reunion panels for King of the Hill over the past few years as the duo would often discuss people they’d worked with in the past and the explosion of interest in animation. Then, when Davis — who worked for Daniels’ wife, Susanne — became available after YouTube exited the scripted originals space, things started to really take off. “It turned into something a lot more professional and with more momentum to it,” Daniels says of Bandera’s president. “We came into it with a bunch of ideas and different relationships, and when Dustin was there, we had somebody to chase people down to see if they wanted to work with us.”
While Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head revival for Comedy Central predates Bandera’s establishment, the creator says the show exemplifies the types of risk-taking the company wants to do with animation. As for what to expect, Judge hopes the new Beavis can create a larger franchise the way Norman Lear did with his groundbreaking sitcoms. “Hopefully we can get to that point,” he says.
Bandera arrives at a busy time for both Daniels and Judge. Daniels is overseeing the second seasons of Amazon’s Upload (due in 2022), Netflix’s Space Force (Feb. 18) and HBO Max’s unscripted dating show My Mom, Your Dad, which he developed with his daughter, Haley. Judge is steering Beavis and Butt-Head after exiting his longtime overall deal with HBO to focus on the revival in addition to developing a couple of live-action projects.
“I’m running some shows that I created, and that’s very much a full, intense thing,” Daniels says. “Then I love that over here, I’m getting to do stuff and having different experiences, different ideas, working with different people, but it’s more reactive, and it isn’t quite as like pulling out pieces of yourself. It’s more like, ‘Oh, cool, I have stuff to say about this.’ And yet, at the end of the day, Dustin and [Bandera director of development] Jacey Naccarella are going to be staying up, getting it accomplished after we’ve kind of wound them up.”
As for Netflix’s Bad Crimes, the series revolves around Kara (Byer) and Jennie (Lapkus), FBI agents who travel across the country to solve grisly crimes while juggling their friendship, career aspirations and as many men as possible. Judge and Daniels exec produce alongside creator Silverberg, animation veteran Erica Hayes (Rick and Morty, Big Mouth, Solar Opposites), Byer and Lapkus.
“Making Bad Crimes with Greg and Mike and Bandera, who are the whole reason I dreamed of one day getting to write TV, has been such a surreal and incredible experience,” Silverberg said in a statement. “We all feel that working with Netflix — which not only permits, but encourages my grossest, most violent comedy fantasies — is a dream come true. Plus, I am partnering with Erica Hayes and a genius team of writers who are building this show into something unique and special.”
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