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Welcome to Trailer Watch, a regular feature that helps put the spotlight on series that may fly under the radar in the crowded Peak TV landscape. Each installment will explain what the show is and why it looks interesting. This week it’s Tuca & Bertie, Netflix’s adult animation show from Bojack Horseman’s Lisa Hanawalt.
The concept of cartoons aimed at adults is one that has long been steeped in cultural expectations of crude comedy and shock culture. From South Park to Family Guy, it’s easy to write off adult animation as something dated, offensive and often lowbrow. Over the last few years, though, that perception has shifted with shows like Bojack Horseman and Big Mouth, and despite the fact that both of those Netflix offerings lean into expletive-filled comedic turns, they each offer a thoughtful twist on the genre that belies their most offensive parts. In May, the streamer is adding to its ever-expanding original animation roster with Tuca & Bertie, starring Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong.
From Bojack Horseman producer and production designer Lisa Hanawalt, the series immediately sets itself apart by centering two female characters. Hanawalt brings two of comedy’s biggest names to the forefront as they take on the roles of 30-year-old birds trying to live their best life in the big city. Just like Bojack Horseman, it seems like the show will explore mental health struggles, as Wong’s Bertie is described as “an anxious, daydreaming songbird.”
But if the nihilistic sadness of the BoJack is too much, Hanawalt appears to be presenting something much more upbeat that still deals with the realities of being alive, all in the guise of a Technicolor cartoon about talking animals. The regular voice cast also includes Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, The Twilight Zone), and guest voices include those of Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant, Tig Notaro (Star Trek: Discovery) and Tessa Thompson (Avengers: Endgame).
Hanawalt is also an accomplished cartoonist whose recent book Coyote Doggirl is an experimental romp through Western tropes and sequential storytelling.
This is potentially a big moment for Netflix, with two of the most popular female comedians of color fronting an original show not based on an already existing IP. The trailer for Tuca & Bertie promises a dissection of contemporary culture, surviving under capitalism and being cute while doing it. The 10-episode first season premieres May 3.
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