New York City is the least hospitable place on earth to live - at least for the downtrodden creatures living there. That’s the premise of Animals., HBO’s hit animation for adults, which Vulture calls "one of the funniest, most idiosyncratic shows on television.”
Here are 10 reasons to find time to binge-watch these unexpected tales of urban life:
1. It gives voice to the voiceless
If you’ve ever wished humans would shut up and pass the mic, Animals. is the show for you. As creator Phil Matarese told Vox, “We think the world revolves around us, and maybe it doesn't. We share this planet with lots of different things; let's give someone else a chance to speak.”
2. It’s about animals, but you’ll relate
Whether it’s lovelorn rats, gender-questioning pigeons or bedbugs in the midst of a midlife crisis, the awkward small talk, moral ambiguity and existential woes of these non-human urbanites prove startlingly similar to our own.
3. It’s animation. For adults
Like South Park, Archer, Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth and Ricky and Morty, Animals. is part of a growing wave of animation that’s not designed for you to watch with your toddler. To quote CommonSense Media, “Parents need to know that Animals. is an animated series that isn't meant for kids. It contains strong (and often crude) innuendo, scenes featuring (animated) sex acts, and strong references to sexual violence. There's lots of cursing, drinking, and some drug use, too.”
4. It’s animated by the same people who made Rick & Morty
Animals. is animated by Starburns, whose founders are responsible for not only Cartoon Network’s cult hit Rick & Morty but Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman’s Oscar-nominated Anomalisa too. Both those animations scored over 90% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, so you’re in safe, if slightly warped, hands.
5. It stars your favourite actors as animals
Part of the joy of Animals. is matching the voice to the celebrity. Season one treated us to everyone from double Oscar-nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), as a turkey separated from her husband on Thanksgiving, to Big Little Lies’ Adam Scott, as a goose masquerading as a black swan, whose identity is given away by his sex honk, to Golden Globe winner Aziz Ansari (Master of None), as a prejudiced purebred dog.
Season two’s cast includes Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost), double Oscar-nominee Jonah Hill (The Wolf Of Wall Street), triple Emmy-nominee Emilia Clarke (Khaleesi in Game of Thrones); six-time Emmy-nominee Mindy Kaling (The Office), seven-time Emmy-nominee Jason Alexander (George in Seinfeld); and 11-time Emmy-nominee Fred Armisen (Portlandia), among others.
6. Your favourite musicians have musical cameos
In season one, there was guitar hero Kurt Vile as a squirrel and ASAP Rocky and ASAP Ferg as rapping bodega cats, among other standouts. In season two, you can look forward to Ice-T rapping a recap of the first season; to Killer Mike and Outkast’s Big Boi as rapping foxes; and to musical cameos from Solange, Usher and Kim Gordon, among others.
7. Hate animation? There’s a live action episode
Humans, episode five of season two, focuses completely on the humans of the series for the first time. It’s also the first episode to be entirely live action, rather than animated. Inside the headquarters of evil conglomerate Pesci Co, the unscrupulous Dr Labcoat (RuPaul) prepares for the roll out of the "Green Pill," a mysterious cure for the virus plaguing New York City throughout the season.
8. Critics feel strongly about it. Very strongly
Look, we’re aware Animals. isn’t for everyone. Variety loathed it, calling it “extraordinarily tedious,” “unfunny,” “unexceptional,” “excruciating,” “tepid,” “anemic,” “uninspired” and “derivative,” ending “Pigeons and rats deserve better than this.”
On the other hand, San Francisco Chronicle adored it, calling it “hilariously revolting,” “crazy good,” a “delicious off-the-wall comedy,” and “batty and brilliant as it turns the whole notion of anthropomorphic cartoon animals on its fuzzy ear.”
9. Audiences love it
While critics disagreed, audiences were unanimous in their praise: season one has an 88% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes; season two has 83%.
10. HBO has just renewed ‘Animals.’ for a third season
Yes, that’s more than HBO gave Rome and Flight of the Conchords, which are both high up on IMDB’s top rated TV list.