Tuca and Bertie is a Netflix animated original series created by producer of Bojack Horseman Lisa Hanawalt. It follows best friends Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) and Bertie (Ali Wong) as they navigate the everyday trials and tribulations of being adults in the real world…well not the real world but… it’s an equivalent… it’s…. you get it!
Despite some episodes varying in quality, Tuca and Bertie is entertaining, emotional and stuffed with hilarious side-characters and visual gags. If you haven’t been watching, here’s five reasons you should be.
It’s a lot like Bojack Horseman
Tuca and Bertie boasts the same primary art style of Bojack. Also, like Hanawalt’s other show, it presents itself as a colourful, comedic cartoon that uses this light-hearted veneer to talk about deeper topics. Here, these include harassment, the inner workings of relationships (romantic, familial and platonic), work-life and the day-to-day struggles of being a woman.
The Pace of the Show
I had a great time with the series. I think a lot of that is down to the forward momentum it accumulates in the first episode. The pilot efficiently introduces the audience to the personalities of the two main characters. In about three minutes, you understand the kind of people they are, as well as their changing living situation which goes on to be the focus of the episode. Immediately you are invested in the protagonists and looking forward to spending more time with them over 10 episodes.
Format of the show
This fast pace continues with the choice to have the more dramatic Bertie centric plots often take the ‘A story’ slot. This grounds the show, being juxtaposed with the zany adventures of Tuca who acts as more of a prominent supporting character. Yes, Tuca has her own stories when the two are split up. But they are always less intriguing than Bertie’s (with one noticeable exception). Meanwhile, in the stories where the pair are together, Tuca is always playing second fiddle to the more relatable Bertie.
One quality of Bertie’s that makes her feel grounded to real-life is that she suffers from anxiety, which is portrayed accurately and to great effect throughout the first season. There is no better example of this than the musical number from episode four. Titled ‘I’m Losing My Shit’, it’s a truthful depiction of someone trapped in a stressful situation feeling a panic attack coming on but being surrounded by people who don’t understand how scary it feels.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all the musical numbers in the show, some of which don’t add anything to the story. Nor did they add anything comedically. They’re just sort of there.
However, these experiments are something for which I must commend the creators of the show. They are willing to try different things from every angle of storytelling. I appreciate their many attempts to entertain by breaking the mould. In doing so they also manage to contrast the realistic nature of the issues tackled in the show with the ridiculous situations and over the top nature of cartoons.
This feeling of creativity continues with the assumed freedom provided to the artists and animators. With sequences employing varying animation styles, abstract backdrops, the manipulation of perspective and seemingly unlimited background jokes, the show takes full advantage of its medium to jam pack each episode with as much comedy as possible.
Regardless of whether or not you’ve seen Tuca and Bertie, go watch it. Then watch it again. Then come and re-read this article and wait with me in anticipation of its second season that it hasn’t been renewed for yet. I wouldn’t worry though. It’s that good.