Code Monkeys is an animated show that debuted on the G4 TV network last year. For those who do not know G4 is a niche cable channel that focuses mainly on tech and videogames. This show is an attempt to copy the same formula as Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, because it is an “adult” comedic cartoon.
Code Monkeys may appear a bit esoteric at first; it is a show about Gameavision, a videogame developer in the early ’80s. The show is animated in blocky, 8-bit textures similar to the games of that period. There are many inside jokes. Every episode has a reference to old Atari or Nintendo games such as Pitfall or Donkey Kong. Guest stars such as David Jaffe (God of War creator) and John Romero (Doom designer) are probably not known outside of the hardcore gamer crowd.
What keeps the show from being too inside is sheer laziness. All the characters are common comedy stereotypes and each episode puts them in “wacky” situations. The stereotypical characters are the crazy Texan boss Larrity, Todd the creepy nerd, Mary the empowered woman, Clare the easy girl, Black Steve the angry black guy, and Clarence the flaming homosexual. They are very broadly drawn and a little offensive. The offensiveness is dulled a bit by the period setting and the show’s ridiculousness. The show’s main characters are Dave and Jerry. Jerry is the straight man to all the madness while Dave is the perpetually horny guy.
The show uses some typical sitcom plots such as a company takeover and a business trip to Vegas. But it also uses some truly outrageous ones such as trip to visit Hitler’s descendants and one in which Larrity gets a butt implant from an African-American woman. This causes his butt to shake uncontrollably anytime music is playing.
The problem is, despite everything the show is trying to do, not much sticks. The characters do outrageous things all the time and videogames are referenced constantly. There is nothing inherently funny about that. There aren’t any references to what normal life is like in the show. The audience gets the impression that the Code Monkeys world is just like that. There has to be some kind of context for insanity or it is just absurdity. Or the crazy characters have to do something relatable.