This is “Are You Sleeping”: a review column about the things you should be listening to, watching, or reading. In this edition, we discuss the television show Tuca & Bertie.
How do I know y’all were sleeping on Tuca & Bertie? Because, while I sing its praises, I also have to inform you that it was canceled.
Not in the “cancel-culture” way that usually designates a scandal or social faux pas, but in the regular-ass way, where high power TV executives blindside you by snatching a beloved show away from you, à la FireFly in 2003.
While we may never know the heights our feathery friends would soar to, we can at least appreciate their journey.
View this post on Instagram
Tuca & Bertie was an adult animation show released on Netflix that followed the lives of two mid-twenty-something best friends trying to adult. Coming from the production team behind Bojack Horseman, the animation style is very reminiscent of it, but with a much brighter color scheme.
On the lighter side of the show, Tuca & Bertie examines female friendships and what it can mean when two friends are at different stages of life.
The program starts with Tuca and Bertie ending an alluded to, long history as roommates, as Bertie tries to take her relationship to the next level with her boyfriend, who moves in with her. Tuca must then navigate living on her own and learn how to give her BFF some breathing room.
Even though the show is canceled, it’s a must-watch, so this review is #nospoilers.
Initially, the show comes across as the classic sitcom dynamic, with a Love It or List It match-up of one person that has it together and their friend that’s a wreck, but when you dive in deeper, it becomes more complex.
Tuca & Bertie may be bright and colorful, but the show tackles the serious issues many women face in their lives, including workplace abuse, sexual assault, and managing relationships.
Central to the show is exploring healthy relationships — platonic, romantic, and professional. While Bertie’s character is off building a nest with her bae, Tuca’s storyline focuses less on romantic relationship and more on familial relationships and self-discovery.
Throughout the season Tuca seems like a carefree spirit, barreling through life haphazardly. As the season progresses, however, we find out that beneath Tuca’s wild exterior is a person struggling to define themselves and confront their past.
While you might be thinking — okay, if this show has animated animals and a serious storyline, why am I not just watching BoJack Horseman?
Unlike Bojack Horseman, where the female characters are first and foremost introduced as they relate to the main male characters, in Tuca and Bertie, birds are on the frontline.
Also unlike the humanoid horse dramedy, which faced controversy for casting a white actor, Alison Brie, to voice a character of Asian descent (Vietnamese), Tuca & Bertie starred a diverse cast and crew.
The voices of the two main characters are both women of color, Tiffany Haddish, and Ali Wong, and the supporting characters featured POC actors including; Steven Yuen, Nicole Byer, Laverne Cox, Tig Notaro, Awkwafina, and Shamir Bailey.
More still, 50 percent of the episodes were directed by women.
Just because there is only one season of Tuca & Bertie, that doesn’t make it any less binge-able. Kick it by yourself or watch it with your BFF. I recommend the latter for access to hugs and knowing looks during the emotional parts.