My take on Ugly Americans
Type: TV series
Creators: David M. Stern and Devin Clark
Capsule: Nice guy Mark Lilly helps supernatural creatures integrate into society in New York.
What if demons, zombies, robots, intelligent squids, and koala people (you read me right, koala people) had to become part of normal society in New York City? Well, first off, you are right…who would notice? Secondly, there would undoubtedly be some government bureaucracy involved…and things would not always go smoothly.
That’s the basic premise of Ugly Americans, a new animated series on Comedy Central (Wednesdays at 10:30 PM…and then repeated frequently). This isn’t exactly The Munsters or the Addams Family…there is a lot of crude humor, and it’s definitely supposed to be contemporary.
Our protagonist, Mark, is a nice guy social worker…he’s trying to help these “Ugly Americans” to adapt. He’s not that good at his job, though…a problem results in the first episode from a really, really bad job placement he has done.
Complicating things are his boss, the female spawn of Satan…literally. They are having an affair…but she can’t really repress her demonic side (and doesn’t seem to try that hard). There is also the prejudice the unusual folks face…including unfair prosecution.
Mark’s room-mate is Randall, who became a zombie to impress a girl…who decided she was over zombies before he really had a chance. He has money and indulges in some expensive luxuries…but does have that whole “skin falling off” problem.
The pilot episode (which was first broadcast March 17, 2010) jumped right into the action. The first scene was drawn somewhat like an old EC comic, although it quickly shifted into what will be the usual style of animation. I thought that first stylistic trick was clever…I liked the look of it before it switched.
When I say the humor is crude…there are a lot of sexual references, and a little cartoon nudity (um…”cartoonudity”?). From the clips they have on the official site, there will be even more of the latter as the series progresses.
There is quite a bit of background detail, and that’s important in a show striving to have loyal followers. For example, during a trip to Hades, we see store fronts like “Demon Marcus” and “Barnes and Evil”. Does that sounds a little like The Simpsons to you? David M. Stern, one of the creators, is a former Simpsons writer.
A greater similarity is to the Amanda Feral book series. They aren’t the same, certainly…I’m assuming it’s just a case of parallel creativity. However, the zombies, the sex, the big city feel…I don’t know if two are enough to make up a sub-genre, but they do belong together. :) For more on Feral, see this previous post.
I’m going to have to see more before I really decide on this one. I suspect that we might get some specific parodies that are entertaining. Part of how much I like it will depend on how the characters develop. Right now, they are pretty one-dimensional (well, two…being cartoons and all). It’s not hard to predict (even after 23 minutes) how any of them will react in any circumstance. To keep them interesting, they are going to need to show us a little more of their personalities…I know, I know it’s only been the pilot. I’m just sayin’ going forward, we need to care more about them. Some of the sight gags were amusing, but they aren’t enough to sustain the show.
So, crude humor, a clever situation, and sight gags…yes, that gives you some idea what to expect. The official site has quite a few video clips (and a game) as well.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.