I first realised Tuca and Bertie was a thing when I was curled up, foetus-like, in an anxiety-ridden stupor having attempted two university assignments in one night. I’m actually a huge adult cartoon-nerd; which is a horrendous fact about me, to which only a select handful of people are privy to. The Simpsons, Big Mouth, Bob’s Burgers… each one a little nugget of gold in our ever-darkening cavern which we refer to as life.
Pessimistic, huh? Absolutely – and entirely on-brand for Lisa Hanawalt-produced, cynical cartoon Bojack Horseman. If you haven’t seen Bojack before… where have you been, really? It’s been five years.
Filled to the brim with pessimistic observations, gloomy parodies of real-life situations (see: ‘has the concept of women having choices gone too far? We’ve assembled this diverse panel of white men in bow-ties to talk about abortion!’) and crushing reminders that happy endings only ever exist in Spielberg movies; Bojack is the result of a middle-aged, male TV star (okay, so he’s also a horse. Use your imaginations, people!) getting everything he ever wanted, without really gaining anything at all. It’s a witty take on addiction and depression using bright colours and carefully crafted secondary characters embarking on dumb adventures. And drugs. And also, they’re animals. With numerous mental health issues. And human partners, sometimes.
With that being said, Lisa Hanawalt’s new series Tuca and Bertie (Bojack, Tuca and Bertie on the same blog post? What is this, a crossover episode?!), described by viewers as ‘Broad City but, like… with birds’ became available to stream on Netflix last week (3rd May) – and, boooooooyyyyyyyyyy. That shit resonated with me on a spiritual level.
A total departure from the pessimistic sub-universe of Boj, Tuca and Bertie features the tumultuous lives of Tiffany Haddish-voiced, larger-than-life Tuca, and Ali Wong-voiced, perpetually-Anxious-with-a-big-A Bertie (pronounced ‘Birdie’, because apparently that pun doesn’t work on my British RP voice).
Tuca tends to coast through life, utilising various Fiverr-copycat apps and virtual-jerk (yes, it is what it sounds) websites; along with sizeable financial contributions from Auntie in order to get by. Bertie, on the other hand, totally has her shit together. I mean, the bird (ew, but also – she’s literally a bird) works a regular nine-to-five as well as an apprenticeship with the letchy Pastry Pete, all while maintaining a relationship with live-in boyfriend Speckles and attempting to keep a cap on her Anxiety. She quickly begins to discover that she can’t possibly try to move up in the world without facing seemingly impossible challenges.
Sorry, did I say challenges? I meant men. Obviously.
Kaa-kaa-kaa-kaaaaaaaa! That’s the alarm that sounds when no women have spoken out loud for three minutes.
Slowly trying to navigate their way through a world of catcallers, harassers, and entitled men; Tuca and Bertie must be applauded for bringing an all-too-real insight on what it means to be a woman in her twenties to the forefront of pop culture.
Yes, sometimes unsolicited comments about our thighs make us want to throw the whole damn body away.
Yes, sometimes we aren’t able to get ahead career-wise because men at the top prevent us from doing so.
Yes, sometimes we piss through the side of our playsuits. It’s convenient, okay?
I deserve to be treated like a person and not an object. So, get out of my space before I break yo face!
The brilliance of this show lies in the unfiltered, slap-in-the-face feminist angle Lisa Hanawalt so unapologetically displays. It’s ungraceful, but whoever said demanding equality had to be neat and inoffensive? The message of – you give us shit IRL, so we’re giving it straight back to you on your sofa; in front of your laptop – is so quintessentially JNSQ it almost feels like we worked on it ourselves. The writing is on point, the visual gags are laugh out loud, the characterisation is spot-on, and the voicework brings such warmth and likeability to these anthropomorphic birds. I unashamedly binge-watched eight episodes in one day and loved every second of it.
(NB: for added relatability, I urge Anxiety sufferers to search the I’m Losing My Shit song for ‘I’m in this photo and I don’t like it’ feels.)
Obviously, there were always going to be naysayers. Bojack Horseman attracted such a wide audience, that a lot of the irony got lost on some of the dude-bros who watched it for funny talking horse has sex with lots of women and shits on Diane the Feminazi ‘libtard’.
Dude-bros like this…
To the sceptics, I say this; if you found Tuca and Bertie offensive, you weren’t paying close enough attention. If you feel you have to relate to something in order to find it enjoyable, then perhaps sit this one out. This isn’t for you. We shouldn’t have to spoon-feed Not All Men when creating entertainment meant for us. That rather defeats the point of catering to us.
I’m serious. Go watch Family Guy or something.
Geez. Why am I so cool when no-one else is around?
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