Header Ads

Human Resources [Season 1]

The history of adult animation is littered with failures. Since series such as The Simpsons and South Park hit it big more than two decades ago, there have been dozens of series attempting to follow in their footsteps. Only a handful of these shows has actually been successful enough to make it past a single season. For every Rick and Morty or BoJack Horseman, there's a Fish Police or The Oblongs. Netflix's Big Mouth is one of the lucky few and one of the streamer's biggest adult animation successes. Not only has it made it to five seasons (with a sixth set to release this year), but it's even got its own spin-off in the form of Human Resources.

Human Resources lifts the curtain to reveal the world of Big Mouth's Hormone Monsters. It turns out they hail from Human Resources, which oversee the life of every human. Hormone Monsters are just the beginning, and we are introduced to Lovebugs, Shame Wizards, Logic Rocks, Depression Kitties and more weird and wonderful creatures that oversee every foible of the human condition,

Human Resources is produced by Titmouse Cartoons and is created by Big Mouth's Executive Producer and writers Jennifer Flackett and Kelly Galuska, alongside its original creators Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin and Nick Kroll

The series has a distinctly fun premise. Unlike the coming-of-age sitcom it span off from, this is a workplace comedy. The creators pitch it as "Big Mouth meets The Office", but personally I prefer to think of it as a sort of NSFW spin on Monsters Inc.  This comparison is most apparent in scenes where we see all sorts of bizarre creatures wandering around in the halls of Human Resources HQ, simply going about their normal working day.

There are some great designs too- logic rocks have heads based on the Easter Island statues for example. It might leave you wishing it looked a bit better though. The actual quality of the animation is decent enough but the character design aesthetic is inherited from its parent show. The look of both Big Mouth and by extension Human Resouces are deliberately ugly. It is not that it's 'bad', it's a stylistic choice, but it is something of an acquired taste (one that I have yet to acquire).

This puts a different spin on the creatures we have seen in the original series, revealing them as employees doing their jobs. Ironically, this also makes them appear more human, giving them real lives outside of work, complete with friendships and office flings.

Big Mouth fans will also know exactly what to expect in terms of rude humour. Even by their own standards though, the naughtiness has been ramped up. It is absolutely full of foul language, sex references, disturbing sights and other 'adult' content. Unlike in Big Mouth, at least almost everyone involved is old enough to drink. It's used as an excuse to make things 'edgier and more adult-ier', as the PR would have it. But that does also use the change to explore more adult relationships, covering ideas like marriage, pregnancy, parenthood and ageing- both among humans and among the creatures. 

Fans of Big Mouth know that is secret weapon is that underneath all the crudity and cusswords is a surprisingly big heart. This isn't quite as apparent in Human Resources, but it is there. Some of the relationships are actually pretty sweet. Kudos to the writers for featuring love in all its forms too, and including LGBT+ relationships. Attention is never drawn to the fact these relationships are any different from heterosexual ones, either. They're just treated equally with all the ups and downs of any other relationship.

When the series is actually able to stop making dick jokes for five minutes, it actually does offer some interesting insight into the human condition, and the heart begins to shine through. Particular praise is due for the show depicting one character's dementia in a really effective way and not making light of mental illness. Best of all though is an episode that deals with death and grieving in a surprisingly sensitive way. It also features a giant jumper with the voice of Henry Winkler at one point (amusingly named Keith From Grief).

Generally speaking, the stuff that works best is the stuff that doesn't include the Hormone Monsters Whenever they're on screen, it's constant sex jokes and smut which becomes tiresome pretty quickly. The best material comes from the various characters new and creatures who are newly introduced for this show. Each human has a team of creatures on their side trying to guide them through life, like an adult spin on Inside Out. There are also various creatures we see wandering around in the background or who appear only briefly, hinting that we'll get to meet different species in future seasons (assuming this is greenlit for more).

While other elements (mainly the gags) are hit and miss. the voice acting is consistently excellent throughout. Nick Kroll and Maya Rudolph reprise their roles from the original series, as lead Hormone Monsters Maury and Connie (as well as numerous other characters) The spin-off adds a star-studded selection of newcomers, led by Shrill star Aidy Bryant as the lead character Emmy The Lovebug. Also turning in excellent performances are Randall Park (aka the MCU's Jimmy Wong) as Pete the Logic Rock, and acclaimed British thespian David Thewlis hamming it up as The Shame WizardHugh JackmanAli Wong, Lupita Nyong'o, Jermaine Clement,  Chris O'Dowd, Thandiwe Newton and Dame Helen Mirren are also all great in supporting roles.

Ultimately, you probably already know how you are going to feel about Human Resources based on your feelings on Big Mouth. If you love it, it's hard to imagine you not having a great time. Conversely, if you aren't- or if you don't enjoy 'edgy humour'- then you're going to want to give this a wide berth, Whether this spin-off has anywhere near the same staying power as its parent show remains to be seen, but for a first season, this new show is off to a solid start.



IN A NUTSHELL:  This Mucky Monsters Inc is good not-so-clean fun- if you've got the stomach for it


* Advance Screener provided by Netflix*