TV: Tuca & Bertie (Seasons 2 & 3)

Imagine, if you will, a world where an eclectic, perverse animated series is canceled by a major streaming service…only to get rescued by another. Given the current chopping-block climate of entertainment industry rollbacks, it’s almost impossible to imagine—but it happened not so long ago for Tuca & Bertie, which migrated from Netflix to Adult Swim. Since then, it defied deletion from the killing fields of Max long enough for Jenn and I to catch up on it. (Books will be written about the streaming wars, and one has to imagine they will be strange and incomprehensible to readers of the future.)

Tuca & Bertie is the brainchild of Lisa Hanawalt, the animation designer for BoJack Horseman, and it has a similar offbeat vibe. Set in the anthropomorphized world of “Birdtown,” it charts the complex, intense friendship of partying toucan Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) and buttoned-down songbird Bertie (Ali Wong). The two women couldn’t be more different, but their differences prove a source of strength in their relationship, as Tuca supports Bertie in her life with architect boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yeun), and Bertie reciprocates, aiding Tuca through relationships and careers.

While Tuca & Bertie lacks a gripping narrative, it’s a refreshingly upbeat and kooky series that isn’t afraid to lean into sheer oddness. In the process, it comments interestingly on the world we live in by depicting one similarly loony, and using it as a way to reflect on the gender and social issues that affect us. If the results aren’t quite as immersive and powerful as BoJack, they’re definitely more affirming and light-hearted. Season two is the stronger of these post-Netflix seasons; season three struggles for material at times and over-reaches for laughs. But both nicely inject extra volume into an engaging, unique animated series that nearly vanished too quickly.

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