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Why Futurama Might Be One of the Best Comedies Ever
I’m a shameless fan of adult cartoons. I’ve seen every episode of Family Guy and American Dad multiple times, tried to sit through the Cleveland Show, stayed with the Simpsons as long as I could before it became painful, and I’ve dabbled in a fair amount of South Park and Aqua Teen Hunger Force in my day.
And yet somehow I managed to miss out on Futurama while it aired. So when I discovered it hidden in the depths of my Netflix queue, it didn’t take a lot of convincing for me to turn it on and finally check it out.
And after watching it, I’ve decided it’s by far one of the best and most creative comedy shows I’ve ever seen.
So,why is that? How could I consider it better than the raunch of South Park, the political satire of American Dad, or even the goofy cutscenes of Family Guy?
Probably the most important and ingenious part of Futurama is its setting. The fact that it’s set in the future provides a brilliant backdrop for comedy, especially because it capitalizes on the fact that no one knows what the future is like, or what it could hold. As such, anything sci fi or futuristic is a blank slate open for innovation from the creative minds in charge of the show’s development and writing.
Because of this, you find that episode after episode the main thing that keeps you hooked is discovering how life works within the show’s universe, whether it’s the mating rituals of alien species or the fact that advertisements get pumped into your dreams at night. There’s a whimsical, fantastic quality to the show that makes it so endearing and imaginitive, and it owes that in part to its setting in the 31st century.
And it’s a clever show, too. The writing is quirky and has its own unique feel for every character, and there’s a genius amount of twist and pull with dialogue that leads you one way, then pulls you another, making for unpredictable writing that becomes funny when it pulls you off guard.
I know, I know…this sounds deep, so allow me to explain. Probably one of the best examples of this is when the Professor puts Fry and his science experiment talking monkey in the same college dorm room. The whole discussion between Fry and the Professor is all about Fry’s distaste for the monkey, but the Professor starts on an explanation that leads you to believe he put Fry and the monkey in the same dorm room to make sure they would learn something from each other and get along. But in reality, he admits it’s so he only has to memorize one phone number.
All of the characters in the show have a surprising amount of depth as well. Sure, they all have their quirky sides that lends a lot to the comedy, but every character also has another layer that gives them a more “human” ( I know, some of them are aliens) quality. Whether it’s Leela’s struggle to understand herself and her species, Fry’s attempt to make sense of this futuristic world in his 21st-Century brain, Bender’s constant antics to find new sides of himself or new ways to exploit others, or even Dr. Zoidberg’s struggle with being alone, you find a little bit more to each character than is already on the surface, and that serves to make them even more endearing and interesting, especially when such differences interact with one another.
Like most adult cartoons, there’s also a fair amount of social commentary that speaks to our day and age in each episode as well. Whether it’s poking fun at inefficient government officials, our predicaments with global warming and recycling, or even ideas of gender rights and relationships, the show turns a mirror on our own society, all while putting it in a futuristic and fantasy-based context.
But no matter what part of it works the best, it all still weaves seamlessly together to make it into one of the most interesting and unique comedies in a very crowded and typical space, making it one of the best I’ve seen in years.