Monday, May 31, 2021

REVIEW: 'HouseBroken' - Honey Looks for a New Pet to Fill the Sudden Void in Her Therapy Group in 'Who's a Good Girl?'

FOX's HouseBroken - Episode 1.01 "Who's a Good Girl?"

Honey the poodle is thrown into a dog mid-life crisis after the death of her friend and the sudden appearance of a hot, mysterious coyote in the neighborhood. Shel the tortoise finds love from an unlikely source.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 FOX's HouseBroken.

"Who's a Good Girl?" was written by Jennifer Crittenden, Gabrielle Allan & Clea DuVall and directed by Mark Kirkland

Honey is on a mission to provide meaningful therapy to the pets in the neighborhood. This premiere is very introductory though. The ensemble is full of characters who have the potential to be memorable. However, most of them are reduced down to their basic characteristics and what brings them to these frequent therapy sessions. Moreover, it's not entirely clear if Honey is even good as a therapist. She takes on that leadership position because she has been watching her owner operate in the same way. But the main story here is all about Honey going through her own struggle. She is coping with the death of her best friend, Big Cookie. That has the potential to start the show on a dark and depressing note. It reminds everyone of the fragility of life especially when it comes to pets. These animals provide so much comfort and companionship. And yet, their lives are noticeably short. It has the potential to speak to something significant. However, the audience doesn't have a firm understanding of what this relationship was like for Honey. It's something said to be important. A void now exists within the group. As such, everyone has their own ways of trying to fill it. But that's mostly just an excuse to bring in Diablo who can sit and listen to what is going on with every other member. Again, it's those basic introductory notes. Nothing is wrong with that. It just doesn't produce a lot of humor. It's a premise pilot essentially. More complexity and dimension will surely follow. But it's also difficult to judge this show off one episode because the audience doesn't really see what it aspires to be in the end. It's also different than what the FOX animation brand has been for awhile. It has certainly been a success for the network. The current heads are looking to expand on that success with several new additions in the past year. They largely follow the formula of a dysfunctional family having misadventures in an animated format. This show is different. It may still revolve around a makeshift family of animals who care about each other. But it should be fascinating to see if the show's ambitions extend further than that. It has the imagination to present things in a fantasy way. Honey dreams of an entire underwater adventure. That too makes it blatantly obvious that she is not coping with this death well. But the focus ultimately shifts to the dream being about her sudden crush on a strange coyote lurking around the neighborhood. Honey and Chief are completely different identities. Their owner has forced them together as a couple. Honey is willing to nurture that dynamic. But she clearly yearns for more excitement as well. That is a fascinating character dynamic. One that allows more personal agency for the character. That is needed across the board though. Right now, Chief serves as the easy comedy foil. The same applies to Shel. He is the only other character given a significant story here. It's all about his sexual desires. He is encouraged and ashamed. But he wants to keep a relationship with a croc going as well. It's all strange. It highlights the potential for weird and odd humor. And yet, the show can be very conventional in that regard too. It goes for the low brow humor. Nothing is inherently wrong with that. It has the potential to come across as too easy. As such, it's not challenging to the audience. Again, that may change in the future as the audience becomes more aware of the entire ensemble. They could each be paired in amusing character dynamics. Exploring those relationships should be fun. Creative pairings will form that are reliably interesting and compelling. Those will serve as unexpected joys in the future. At the moment, it's just clear that the show felt compelled to get introductions out of the way before trying to do something more specific and funny. That's the burden carried here. The voice cast is stacked with some extraordinarily talented comedians. Attempts are certainly made at humor here too. It needs a boost of confidence to work more consistently. The line readings and stylizations of the jokes have the potential to soar at some point. Again, these bonds just have to be nurtured and developed. That takes time though. That may be the one thing an audience isn't willing to give to a show right now especially with so many options out there. This isn't the only adult animated comedy featuring personified animals after all. The competition is stiff.