“If you like it normal, why bother coming to New York?”
So sayeth Mark Lilly, main character of Comedy Central’s newest animated offering “Ugly Americans.” The show paints an alternate picture of the big apple. This NYC is overrun with zombies, wizards, demons, and any other random sci-fi or horror movie creature you can think up (I especially applaud the mind imaginative enough to think up the character with eleven boobs and a talking vagina that was featured in the pilot). In the middle of it all is plain ole’ human being Mark.
Mark is a social worker in the Department of Integration. It’s his job to help NYC transplants adjust to big city livin’, even though he has a hard time accomplishing this in his own life. You see, Mark’s roommate Randall is a zombie who only kind of wants to eat his brain. Also, his girlfriend Callie is literally the spawn of satan and tries to steal his soul when she’s not too busy fucking his brains out. She’s also his boss, by the way. Yep, finding a harmonious balance in life is tough for Mark, but he takes it all in stride, being the bleeding heart idealist that he is.
The tone of the show is that of a standard fish-out-of-water story infused with Adult Swim sensibilities. These two devices serve each other greatly, as the characters’ every day struggles to make it in the big city are harshly underlined by the ridiculous EC Comics inspired visuals. For example, city wide traffic jams caused by “Yeti-Con 2010” and a land whale collision are silly bits of animation, but they work to drive the point home. So does Mark’s ho-hum attitude to this news, like it’s just another annoying, yet expected, aspect of New York. It’s this familiarity with all things urban that strikes a chord with anyone who lives in a densely populated city.
t’s obvious that the various lifeforms contained within “Ugly Americans” are stand-ins for the diverse population that makes up NYC. The metaphor for immigrants at play here is smart and much appreciated by a New Yorker like myself. But while the concept is solid, the show’s strength is the aforementioned non sequitur sight gags contained within. What’s the only thing funnier than a half eagle/ half man hybrid taking a mid flight dump on some guy below? His suggestion of “Suck my balls!” after the guy complains about it. I know it doesn’t seem funny reading it, but that’s why it’s called a sight gag, you moron. Ya gotta see it! The random visuals and quotable dialogue give this show high replay value.
“Ugly Americans” tells you nothing new about anything. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. It’s relatable and stimulating enough to avoid becoming stale. And funny. Fucking funny.
Written by Ruben Ortiz