×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘Animals’

With:
Mike Luciano, Phil Matarese, Eric Andre, Katie Aselton, Rob Corddry, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Lauren Lapkus, Adam Scott, Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes, Cobie Smulders

The only good thing about “Animals” is that it serves as proof of how difficult it is to make a certain kind of indie-flavored TV comedy. The animated HBO show has a lot in common with programs like “Girls,” “Louie” and “Baskets,” and like “Togetherness,” it boasts Mark and Jay Duplass as executive producers. But the extraordinarily tedious “Animals,” unlike those shows, fails to hit any of its chosen targets. It is unfunny, its animation is unexceptional and the studied banality of its dialogue is excruciating.

Despite ostensibly being about the animals and insects that New Yorkers ignore as they make their way around the city, the show manages to incorporate almost every cliche from the huge array of bro-oriented cable dramas and comedies. Male pigeons and rats argue with each other about the best way to hit on women, and contests of strength and masculinity crop up regularly. When a female pigeon or rat gets to speak, it’s often to fend of a guy’s advances or to scold a character for falling for another dude’s “machismo playground dare.” The half-hour realm of TV is incredibly frisky and creative these days, but almost none of that experimentation or playful boundary-breaking is on display in this tepid program. 

Given its characters’ concerns about getting sex and competing with other males of the species, “Animals” almost functions as a parody of a rote HBO or Showtime drama, but the comedy doesn’t appear to have that kind of self-awareness. It’s merely a momentum-free collection of tepid scenarios in which rats throw a party (featuring DJ Lab Rat), pigeons and caterpillars bicker about their physical attributes, and fleas discuss divorce. Humans never speak in this comedy, which was created by Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese, but it’s somehow not surprising that a man is shown bending a nameless woman over a desk in the first episode.

It’s a shame this comedy doesn’t display originality or vision, given that the animated arena offers creators an ability to get weird and deep in a host of unusual ways. Shows like “BoJack Horseman,” “Archer,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Adventure Time,” among others, have attracted loyal followings by honing their distinctive voices and depicting outrageous situations that somehow end up being weirdly relatable. By going surreal, these shows arrive at truthful realities in poignant or amusing ways.

But the anemic “Animals” just feels like a string of uninspired, derivative improv sketches that go on too long. Pigeons and rats deserve better than this.

Ryan McGee and I discussed “Animals,” “Marvel’s Agent Carter” and “Making a Murderer” in the most recent Talking TV podcast, which can be found here and on iTunes.

TV Review: 'Animals'

Series; HBO, Fri. Feb. 5, 11:30 p.m.

Production: Created in New York by Duplass Brothers Television for HBO.

Crew: Executive producers, Mike Luciano, Phil Matarese, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass; directors, Matarese, Luciano; producers, Jen Roskind, James Fino, Joe Russo II, Kenny Micka.

Cast: Mike Luciano, Phil Matarese, Eric Andre, Katie Aselton, Rob Corddry, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Lauren Lapkus, Adam Scott, Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes, Cobie Smulders

More TV

  • Outlander 406

    'Outlander' Recap: Jamie Encounters William Again in 'Blood of My Blood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Blood Of My Blood,” the sixth episode of “Outlander” Season 4. The action in “Blood of My Blood” picked up almost immediately after the previous week’s episode, as evidenced by the fact that Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) was still staying with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and [...]

  • The Flash -- "Elseworlds, Part 1"

    'Elseworlds, Part 1' Recap: Barry Allen and Oliver Queen Swap Skills, Visit Superman

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Elseworlds, Part 1,” the first part of the 2018 “Arrowverse” crossover, which aired Dec. 9. After past crossovers that introduced beloved characters’ doppelgangers, a wedding and death, “Elseworlds,” the fifth annual “Arrowverse” event, had a lot to which to live up. Unlike previous years, [...]

  • Stranger Things

    'Stranger Things' Season 3 Teaser Reveals Episode Titles, 2019 Release

    Netflix dropped a new teaser for the upcoming third season of “Stranger Things” Sunday, confirming that it will land on the streamer in 2019. The teaser also revealed the episode titles for the third season, which are as follows: “Suzie, Do You Copy?,” “The Mall Rats,” “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard,” “The Sauna Test,” [...]

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • Michael Che Defends Kevin Hart on

    Michael Che Ribs Academy Over Kevin Hart Controversy on 'SNL'

    Kevin Hart may have alienated some in Hollywood over his recently resurfaced homophobic tweets, but that didn’t stop “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che from cracking some jokes in support of Hart on Dec. 8’s “Saturday Night Live.” After briefly recapping that Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars after the 2011 tweets came to light, [...]

  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY

    'The Umbrella Academy' Superheroes Series Premiere Date Set on Netflix

    The dysfunctional-family superheroes of “The Umbrella Academy” are landing on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 15, 2019. The live-action series is based on the “Umbrella Academy” comic books created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics. The Netflix original series comprises 10 one-hour episodes. More Reviews Off Broadway [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Jason Momoa"

    Robert De Niro Appears as Robert Mueller in 'Saturday Night Live' Cold Open

    Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance as special counsel Robert Mueller in “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open. De Niro popped out of a closet in a sketch that skewered President Donald Trump and the mounting legal pressure Mueller’s investigation has put on many of Trump’s associates. Alex Moffatt played Eric Trump in a bedtime-story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content