Saturday, May 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Tuca & Bertie' - Tuca Worries She'll Lose Her Best Friend After Moving Out of the Apartment in 'The Sugar Bowl'

Netflix's Tuca & Bertie - Episode 1.01 "The Sugar Bowl"

It's the end of an era as Bertie's boyfriend moves in and her best friend Tuca moves out... into the apartment right above her.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of Netflix's Tuca & Bertie.

"The Sugar Bowl" was written by Lisa Hanawalt & Raphael Bob-Waksberg and directed by Amy Winfrey

Adult animation has long been a male-dominated field. Sure, the entire entertainment industry is still predominately male driven. The last decade has gotten immensely better at telling stories from a female perspective. It's still revolutionary though when an adult animated show has a female creator and showrunner. That's what Tuca & Bertie has with Lisa Hanawalt. Even though it comes from that perspective, it is still an insanely relatable story to those outside of that demographic. It hopes to appeal to more than the BoJack Horseman audience as well, which is where the creative auspices come from. It may be another story where animals are personified with some seemingly defying the laws of nature and gravity. But it's a much more colorful and strange world too. Even in this premiere, the show has the confidence to break from its formula. It establishes the rules of this universe and just how strange it can be to see best friends Tuca and Bertie go from place to place. But it's also more than comfortable revealing that Tuca only lives one floor above Bertie now through an 8-bit animation style. Later on, it features Tuca busting through the edges of the frame in order to continue having a conversation with the neighbor she doesn't want to sleep with again. Plus, the color palette changes up in order to highlight the different ways people experience the world. It's an expression of their changing emotions. Tuca loves painting over things while Bertie's boyfriend Speckle sees the world as a melancholic blue until he is around Bertie who lights up his life. That's very significant and meaningful. But the show is so much more than just fanciful and playful animation as well. It actually has purpose in its story and its character motivations. Right now, Bertie is moving in with Speckle. Tuca is living on her own once more. There is trepidation amongst all of them because of the fear of the unknown. Tuca believes that her best friend will slowly be leaving her life. As such, she needs to keep a box of her belongings in her old apartment. Bertie fears that she and Speckle have to be perfect no matter what. If they have any kind of disagreement or fight, it will only confirm that this was a major disaster that never should have happened in the first place. And finally, Speckle fears that Bertie isn't making any room in her life for him. That too could show a carelessness over their relationship. He wants to see himself as important to her. But that means sharing this space and respecting each other's personal boundaries. The entire plot goes into motion because Bertie doesn't understand the importance of Speckle's bowl of sugar. She sees it as expendable. She can give it to Tuca knowing that she will be careless with it. She doesn't want to part with her own expensive brand. But she has to value everything in her apartment not just the things with her label on them. Of course, this entire diversion may actually create a new career opportunity for her. In order to get the sugar back, she has to defeat an acclaimed pastry chef at making a croissant. She succeeds even though the sugar has already been baked into a cake. That too creates a disturbing visual of Speckle having to literally eat his grandmother. The show proves here that it wants to be absurd in that way. But it still has an underlying humanity throughout all of this. The characters are learning and growing while struggling with the fears of what it means to be in their thirties and not have their lives figured out at this point.