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Close Enough : The Perfect Animated Sitcom For Millennials

The Simpsons has been on the air for so long that society has gone through major changes around it. When it aired for the first time it was considered normal that a family with three kids could afford a decently sized house on a single income. To many of the Millennials and Generation Z watching today. that might as well be a fantasy. A much more relatable vision of family life is represented in Close Enough, the first adult animated series from Regular Show creator JG Quintel.

In Quintel's show, thirty-something married couple Josh and Emily (plus five-year-old Candice) can't even afford to own their own house. Not only do they not have enough to buy, they also still need to live with best friends Alex and Bridgette to even be able to afford Los Angeles' sky-high rent. And Emily isn't a stay-at-home mum like Marge Simpson or Lois Griffin either- she works. 

Also familiar to younger audiences is the fact that Josh has a side hustle- and is a game designer in his spare time, in addition to the retail job which pays the bills.  Housemate Alex similarly has dreams of being a fantasy author, working on his writing when he's not teaching students as a college professor. Then there's Bridgette,-who is half a decade or so younger than the other adults- fancies herself as a future influencer or social media star.

21st-century viewers are often surprised to learn that Homer and Marge are only supposed to be in their late thirties. Josh and Emily are only a few years younger than them- but it feels like the gap is much bigger. Perhaps, it's because when The Simpsons first hit the air that seemed much older. By contrast, the leads in Close Enough seem to have a more youthful energy and have lives and interests outside of parenthood.  In contrast, Homer's only hobbies seem to be drinking and watching TV. Perhaps it's also true that today's 'grown-ups' hold onto more of their interests into adulthood than past generations.

At the same time. Close Enough frequently deals with getting older. Josh and Emily may still be relatively young but are often made to feel old when dealing with people younger than them. In an early episode, they ultimately learn to embrace the fact that they would rather stay in and watch The Great British Bake Off than party all night. 

In season three, even Bridgette gets made to feel out of touch when she comes up against younger influencers on the show's universe's equivalent of Tik Tok. It's something that millennials, many now getting into their thirties (and beyond) will likely be all too familiar with. Yet the show doesn't feel like it's looking down on or making fun of Gen Z- at least no more than it does of its own cast.

It explores what life is like being somewhere in the middle- not old yet, but no longer in the first flush of youth either.

The first season was a breath of fresh air in adult animation, where the default has often been to cling to a template set by live-action sitcoms decades ago. In contrast, Close Enough feels much younger and more contemporary.

It deals with very real issues like the difficulty making friends as an adult, dating in the social media age and parenting. But also, covering the sort of stories that were common on Regular Show, they also have to deal with the likes of lovesick ghosts, killer clowns, depressed robots, time travel parallel universes and other such fantastical concepts. These aren't restricted to fantasy sequences either- although season three does do its own version of Simpsons' annual Treehouse Of Horror, consisting of several "non-cannon" spooky tales. Quintel and his fellow writers haven't let the change to adult animation change them. They understand that getting older doesn't necessarily mean growing up, and that animation doesn't need to be restrained by realism.

The series is a rare jaunt into adult animation for Cartoon Network Studios. The studio's involvement only seems appropriate as Close Enough feels in many ways like a Cartoon Network show for adults. The show does deal with issues and jokes that wouldn't be possible in a CN series, but it doesn't fall into the "edgy" trap that adult animation so often does, with not much in the way of bad language or sex references. Big Mouth, it is not.

It's no surprise that Close Enough is more socially progressive than a show that debuted when Ronald Reagan was still in the White House. Accordingly, it features LGBT characters and the non-white characters are played by appropriate voice actors. This is all included in a very matter-of-fact way that never comes across as performative.

Quintel's first adult animated series was originally intended for TBS before eventually resurfacing on HBO Max.  Yet despite a fairly bumpy birth, the series seems to have performed well enough to win two more seasons with the second season arriving in 2021, and the third arriving in April 2022. The series streams on Netflix in the UK, although the third season hasn't arrived at the time of writing.

Whether Close Enough will ever have anywhere near the staying power or cultural impact that The Simpsons has had remains to be seen. And arguably, it and all animated sitcoms that followed owe their very existence to Matt Groening's iconic show. But if you are looking for an adult animation that defines the millennial experience- then you won't find better than Close Enough.