Adult Swim saves the acclaimed animated series from Netflix purgatory, and gives the two birds of a feather even more complicated modern problems to navigate.
Lisa Hanawalt’s beloved animated show Tuca & Bertie was prematurely canceled by Netflix back in July 2019. But less than a year later, Adult Swim took a risk by giving the show another life. If the first four episodes of the new season are anything to go on, the show only gets stronger, funnier, and more mature in its sophomore outing.
Exploring the same topics as the first season — mental health, workplace sexism, codependent friendships, etc. — Tuca & Bertie retains its wildly inventive storytelling in season 2 while wasting no time in diving deeper into its characters.
The season opens with an episode that’s relatable to a lot of people. Bertie (Ali Wong), still dealing with anxiety and trauma, wants to go to therapy, hoping that it will help her get better. But finding a therapist proves to be a lot more challenging than she expects it to be. Not only does she have to spend a lot of time jumping from one therapist to another until she finds the right one, but the process also drains her energy and mental health at the same time. One therapist turns out to be needy, while another gives her a crystal instead of the help Bertie clearly needs.
A therapist could be the best in the business, but if they’re not the right for you then their service would be of no help; that’s the main takeaway from Bertie’s journey of trying to get into therapy. When Tuca & Bertie addresses these same issues, the show is at its best and most profound — and it has plenty of that throughout the season. In the third episode, for instance, the show takes a hit on cancel culture, exploring why it’s so hard to really get rid of real-life monsters in our society. Not only that, it asks why victims of sexual harassment like Bertie are expected (and forced) to forgive and forget their abusers just because other people are doing so.
Tuca & Bertie always surprises with the ways it handles the many complicated issues it explores throughout the season without sacrificing the humor and psychedelic visuals that makes the show so unique in the first place. The jokes get even more bizarre than in season one, like when Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) creates a pseudo-reality show called the Sex Bus, or when she and Bertie are invited to Speckle’s (Steven Yeun)’s sister’s bachelorette party in Planteau — a town full of strange fauna creatures whose mayor is a hallucinogenic potted plant. That Hanawalt is still creatively playing with the medium in each episode, building a world that walks between fantasy and reality makes the season’s visual palate all the more exciting.
Tuca & Bertie season two is not so much challenging what animation can do, but it does prove how far an animated show can break boundaries and limitations while still rooting its stories in reality. How the rest of the season will play out remains to be seen, but judging from its first four episodes, it’s safe to say that Tuca & Bertie will only fly higher and get more mature as the season goes on.
Tuca & Bertie comes to Adult Swim June 13th, and runs new episodes weekly.