TV Review: ‘Bordertown’

Bordertown TV Review Fox
Courtesy of Fox

Seth MacFarlane’s brand of scattershot animated comedy gets a timely edge in “Bordertown,” the acerbic rejoinder to Donald Trump’s campaign salvo about Mexicans streaming across the U.S. border. Set in the hamlet of Mexifornia, the series focuses on two neighboring families – one Hispanic, the other headed by a conservative white border-patrol agent – whose grown kids are joined in a star-crossed romance. Like MacFarlane’s “Family Guy,” a former stomping ground of series creator Mark Hentemann, there’s a hit-miss quality to the gags, but enough knowing jabs connect to elevate the satirical component above mere wackiness.

America’s shifting demographics are a source of concern to Bud Buckwald (voiced by Hank Azaria), who laments that the Southwestern U.S. by rights “belongs to retired teachers and meth lab entrepreneurs.” Bud gets only moderate pushback from his wife (Alex Borstein), and plenty more from his liberal daughter Janice (Borstein again), who has long been in love with J.C., the scion of the neighboring Gonzalez family, a new college grad who, to the chagrin of his father (both voiced by Nicholas Gonzalez), doesn’t want to get a job until all the world’s ills have been addressed.

“Bordertown” picks a familiar but fertile array of targets, from Spanish-language television to a conservative cable news network where the bloviating commentator brings out a four-year-old girl to present the liberal counterargument. There’s also a spoof of a pugnacious talk host who advocates for the little guy, it’s noted, on a pay network that charges $50 a month.

Given the long lead time associated with animation, kudos to the writers for a future episode dealing with Bud’s decision to donate a stash of found drug money to build a border wall, and all the unintended consequences associated with that. (Let’s just say ingenuity trumps his efforts to close the border.)

The series dabbles in no shortage of stereotypes to make its point, and the rapid-fire sight gags are of a piece with MacFarlane’s other Fox comedies. What makes “Bordertown” somewhat more pleasing at first blush is its willingness to address the apprehension that older white conservatives feel about the swelling Hispanic population at a political and cultural moment when that tension has permeated the current election cycle.

Granted, how well and long that will play is anybody’s guess, but in terms of separating Fox’s forgettable animated comedies from the pretty good ones, “Bordertown,” at least initially, lands on the right side of the fence.

TV Review: 'Bordertown'

(Series; Fox, Sun. Jan. 3, 9:30 p.m.)

Production

Produced by Hentemann Films and Fuzzy Door Prods. in association with 20th Century Fox Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann; co-executive producers, Alex Carter, Dan Vebber; supervising producers, Valentina L. Garza, B.J. Porter, Joel Kuwahara; supervising director, Bob Bowen; director, Jacob Hair; writers, Hentemann, Lalo Alcaraz; music, Mark Mothersbaugh. 30 MIN.

Cast

Voice cast: Hank Azaria, Alex Borstein, Missi Pyle, Judah Friedlander, Nicholas Gonzalez

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  1. Acea says:

    3/16/16 I like Bordertown now. Missed last episode but it seems more balanced as time goes on and a lot funnier :-)

  2. Juan says:

    I am a Mexican male born in the United States, my parents worked their tail off, immigrated to this country, LEGALLY! and used to work for the Border Patrol. I LOVE THIS SHOW!. Except for the fact that just like the rest of the media they refuse to use the word ILLEGAL ALIEN or at least ILLEGAL Immigrant. That is what anyone who enters or remains in this country in violation of the law.

  3. Rob says:

    Seth didn’t create the show he’s only an executive producer. Mark Hentemean created it, he’s a “Family Guy” writer/voice actor. Seth really has nothing to do with the show exempt executive produce. Mark does everything. I remember said somewhere out of all the shows “American Dad” and “Family Guy” he stays mostly focused to “Family guy”. He only co created “American Dad” also which I love that show also with “Family Guy” which is my favorite all time :). But yea “Bordertown” is really run by Mark because he created it, every only says Seth because when they see Seth associated in there they assume it’s his.

  4. Chan says:

    Family Guy! Now with more Mexicans!

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