In 10 Words or Less
When animation takes on reality, we all win
Likes: Twisted comedy
Dislikes: Crude comedy
Hates: Reality TV
The concept is so simple and so smart that it makes perfect sense that "Drawn Together" has great, prematurely canceled series like "Greg the Bunny," "Action" and "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" in its bloodlines. The surprising thing is instead the level of lowbrow humor present in this show. In fact, lowbrow is probably the key level of humor in this series. Once you get past the many gay jokes and crap-topped pizzas, the material becomes a bit thin.
The series is an animated parody of "live in one house" reality series like "The Real World" with a wide range of cartoon styles represented. Superheroic Captain Hero is always trying to make time with women like "Josie and the Pussycats" knock-off Foxxy Brown, while Spanky Ham, an internet Flash cartoon star acts like the pig that he is.
The eight cartoon characters are put into several well-known reality TV situations, but truthfully, the set-ups are only there to provide opportunities for the characters to play their well-defined roles and act bizarrely. Whether it's the overtly gay adventurer Xandir or the psychotically sexual Betty Boop parody Toot, the players don't step out of their parts.
Of course, that doesn't mean the show doesn't grab every chance to break those character types in order to shock, like the near-constant homoerotic themes that are a part of every episode, including a spin-the-bottle game that is beyond any you've seen before. While Ling Ling, the Pokemon joke, and Wooldor Sockbat, the Spongebob Squarepants stand-in, are played purely for their cartoon potential, the rest of the gang are walking personality disorders.
Of the main group, Princess Clara is as close to a main character as it gets, as her naivety, inate racism and sex appeal combine to create a character through whom every situation can be viewed for a laugh. She meets her match in the likely-bisexual black chick, Foxxy, whose behavior and language is taken directly from The Handbook of Gangsta. The twosome provide one of the most memorable moments of the first season, and an excellent Disney-esque song that is simply ridiculous.
The third member of the female side of the party, Toot, is easily the most horrifying cartoon creation this side of Japanese tentacle porn. Intended as a play on Betty Boop, she is the go-to punchline, as her housemates assail her age, weight and stability, but especially her weight. Her various mental problems are the source of a multitude jokes, including some that will make even the hardest of the hardcore cringe.
Beyond the cartoon jokes, pop-culture references and reality TV parodies, the majority of the comedy is of the crude variety. Defecation, ejaculation, masturbation and several other words ending with -ation find their way into the series, along with jokes aimed at every sex, color, gender and orientation.
Incredibly, despite the lowbrow nature of the show's comedy, the creators show a willingness to show patience in their jokes, stretching out a scene to an unbearably comic point. One moment, in which almost nothing on-screen changes for over 90 seconds, which is either genius, or incredible laziness. Either way, it was original.
Taken purely on a surface level, the show is quite good, but with a knowledge of either cartoons or reality television, the series moves to another level. There are numerous cameos and background details that fit the characters into an overall cartoon universe, two of which are perfectly introduced during "Gay Bash." If you are a fan of reality TV, you will find even more to enjoy as fun is poked at several popular series, and even one not-so-popular show that finds itself parodied in the season finale. By smashing together two disparate genres and then putting them in a comic scenario, the show made itself more universal and more enjoyable
For anyone wondering, the tag "Uncensored!" means these episodes are really uncensored, which unlike the "Reno 911!" DVDs, means plenty of animated nudity and swearing. It can be overwhelmingly disturbing at times, but it certainly makes for some interesting viewing. One up-skirt shot in particular will haunt me for the rest of my days.
The seven episodes of "Drawn Together" are split across two DVDs, with five on the first disc and two on the second, where the bonus features are found. The discs have animated full-frame menus, which offer a play-all option, episode selections, and previews on Disc One, and episodes and bonuses on the second. There are no subtitles and no language options, but the episodes are closed captioned.
The discs are packaged in a pair of clear ThinPak cases, with two-sided covers that provide a synopsis for each episode and a listing for the special features. The cases are housed in a well-designed die-cut slipcase that works no matter how the cases are inserted, and reveals a disturbing image when empty.
On a side note, the packaging indicates that some of the music has been replaced for this DVD set. I can't say the change was obvious to me, but nothing seemed completely out of place.
I didn't expect this series to look as good as it does on DVD, without the pixilation that plagues many other animated shows. The animation is as good as any non-Disney/Dreamworks production you've seen, as the bright colors and detail look great and there's no dirt or damage present to ruin the party. Small details that I missed when watching on TV look as clear as day on these discs.
The audio for "Drawn Together" is presented in a pedestrian Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, but one wouldn't expect much more from a basic cable comedy cartoon. The dialogue and music is delivered with good clarity, and nothing is distorted. That's really all you can ask for when it comes to a show like this.
Producers Bill Freiberger and Jordan Young, directors Dwayne Carey-Hill and Peter Avanzino, Actors Tara Strong, Cree Summer, Abbey McBride, Jack Plotnick and Jess Harnell and the mysterious "Carlos" join series creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser to provide audio commentaries on "Hot Tub," "Clara's Dirty Little Secret," "The Other Cousin," and "The One Wherein There is a Big Twist, Pt. 1." There's a different mix of talent on each, and the resulting discussions are sometimes funnier than the shows themselves. As one might expect from the creators of such a filthy show, the chats are down and dirty as well, talking about the performers' homosexual tendencies, Corolla's face and the size of various people's genitalia. It's a rare group of commentaries that's entertaining and completely cut-loose.
A reel of deleted scenes, including an alternate series opener, runs 5:10, but doesn't include much beyond the quality of the footage in the regular episodes. There's also 1:18 worth of "Previously on 'Drawn Together'" segments, which are quick cold opens for the series that are actually pretty good. These are followed by five songs from the show, which are presented in both karaoke mode and sing-a-long mode. It's kind of pointless, but if you like songs like "La La Labia," here's your chance to really enjoy them.
Outside of the raucous commentaries, the most interesting extra is "The Censored/Uncensored Game." 19 lines from the show are presented, and the viewer can choose whether the line was censored out of the show or left in. If you attempt to apply any kind of logic to the game, you will likely lose. It shows how inconsistent the censors "protecting" us are in their decision making.
Three Comedy Central Quickies are also included on Disc One. "Role Playing" from
"Reno 911!" is a classic Patton Oswalt moment from the cop series, followed by a clip from Oswalt's forth-coming stand-up DVD. There's also a South Park bit, but I'm more or less over that show. Maybe there was an Oswalt appearance I missed.
The Bottom Line
"Drawn Together" is easily one of the most disturbingly twisted series I've seen, and most likely the most adult cartoon released with a kiddie look since Fritz the Cat. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the uncensored nature of these DVDs, but also the fact that the sense of humor in this show is entirely about pushing the envelope of good taste. Plenty of times, it crossed the boundary into crude comedy, but something about the format allowed that to work. The DVDs do a very good job of bringing home a series many people missed on TV, and provided a decent number of extras for fans of the show. The low number of episodes certainly is a drawback, but if you have any interest in reality TV or cartoons, especially in seeing them skewered, then this is a series you should check out. Make sure you have a strong stomach though.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.