Thursday , February 29 2024
Poopin' in the cantelope. . .

Drawn Together

Back in the early years of South Park (and who could’ve guessed that the show would last long enough to have “early years”?), the boys did a telling parody of “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” that garnered most of its laffs from the contrast between the gentle edutainment characters who populated that 70’s kids cartoon and the foul-mouthed reality of contemporary urban street life. I thought of that parody watching the premiere of Comedy Central’s newest cartoon series, Drawn Together, because that’s the show’s central gag: taking a series of representative animated icons – Disneyesque ingénue, videogame hero, “wacky” children’s watchamacallit, superhero, Fleischer-esque flapper, etc. – and making them act out the worst characteristics of their stereotypical selves, rather than the idealized versions. Thus, Princess Clara, the lithesome fairy tale heroine, also turns out to be a loathsome racist who, upon meeting the black “mystery solving musician” Foxxy Love, immediately assumes she’s the “servant girl.” Zaftig “20’s sex symbol” Toots Braunstein is played as fat and depressed, futilely hounding the oblivious video knight Xandir and slashing herself with a razor blade “to relieve the pain.”
On the one hand, the show’s premise – plunking these figures into a faux “Real World” house and watching the animated fireworks spark – provides plenty of opportunity to make mocking fun of the cultural sensitivities that informed each character, but on the other hand, much of what we see in the debut episode of Drawn Together is, well, kinda icky. It’s cute when Carla and Foxxy, engaging in a prolonged surprise soul kiss, do a voiceover rhapsody straight out of a Disney musical ballad (“I’m totally Frenchin’ a racist ho!”), but when Carla turns a vote-Foxxy-out-of-the-house scene into a modernized slave auction, you have to wonder what writers Dave Jeser & Matt Silverstein are getting at. Is the scene meant to take the princess’ sense of royal privilege and superiority to its logical extreme? Is it meant as a comment on the dehumanizing nature of most “reality show” competitions? Or is it simply an I can’t believe they just went there moment? Whatever its underlying purpose, it wasn’t all that funny.
When the South Parkers did their brief takedown of the Cosby Kids, it was just one piece of a larger storyline. And no matter how extreme the stories on that show can get, the key to its longevity lies, I suspect, in the fact that its two central figures – Kyle & Stan – remain appealing innocents. Like Chris Onstad in “Achewood,” Parker & Stone know to ground their crassest conceits with doses of recognizable humanity. Not so in Drawn Together, where one of the most distinct figures is an Internet cartoon animal named Spanky Ham, whose defining characteristic is a predilection for publicly defecating in all the wrong places. Gotta wonder if you can stretch a whole teevee season out of that kinda crap. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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