Why we still love ‘Tuca and Bertie’
It’s been almost a year since the release of Tuca and Bertie, a Netflix original dramedy focusing around two birds and their friendship. The show originated as a webcomic called Tuca the Toucan made by creator Lisa Hanawalt who also worked on BoJack Horseman. Tuca and Bertie takes a similar approach to the humor from the comic but puts a tight spin on the emotion within it.
Co-executive producer Tiffany Haddish stars as the lovable Tuca, while Ali Wong voices the anxious Bertie and Steven Yuen is Speckles. Sadly, Tuca and Bertie was canceled on July 24th, 2019. If you missed this gem, it’s worth watching, and even telling Netflix why it needs a new season.
Move over Pixar
Tuca and Bertie takes place in a Zootopia-esque American city where everyone is some type of anthropomorphic animal and/or plant. Lisa Hanawalt’s simplistic artistic style allows the animators to focus less on intricate backgrounds and more on the movements of each character.
Tuca and Bertie‘s art is completely engaging, and always changing into something new. Instead of just fading to black and popping back to the location, scenes shift with a small dance break of Tuca and Bertie with even simpler art. This keeps the show fresh and reminds you to have fun even if handling heavy topics.
The heavy topics
Since Tuca and Bertie handles the relationship of thirty-year-old Tuca and Bertie, they naturally deal with heavy adult topics.
Bertie specifically goes through sexual harassment, commitment issues, and mounds of self-deprecation. Tuca deals with almost the opposite: forced/fake confidence, abandonment issues, and the fear of never fully being in control of her life.
Although a comedy, Tuca and Bertie doesn’t handle these issues with a lax grip. Every single serious problem is either brought to a resolution or a lesson. That isn’t to say everything gets a happy ending and no problems persist, as if that were the case it wouldn’t be so true to life. There are multiple times where a problem presented just cannot be dealt with, so the characters have to learn to live their lives while trying to get over said problems.
The realism that the show gives us allows people to engage in a personal sense. Even if not sharing the issues faced in different episodes, we can sympathize with the leading roles and encourage their development for it. This interaction between creator and audience is what draws us in.
With TV shows, in particular, its characters are what make or break the enjoyment in them. Lisa Hanawalt recognizes the importance of her characters within the show’s story and decides to form complex personalities buried under each one.
The show is kept to a small cast of main characters: Tuca, Bertie, Speckles, and not as important, Pastry Pete (the penguin voiced by Reggie Watts). This rule is kept so that fleshing out said characters becomes natural. A huge cast of characters is less likely to be loved through and through because you can’t see their inner struggles, or relate to how they react to different situations.
Each character in Tuca and Bertie shows different parts of our humanity despite them all being animals. Tuca wants to be seen as confident and easy-going but struggles to keep herself true to that nature. Bertie has trouble putting her foot down in multiple situations, and when confronted chooses to flee in every possible way.
Speckles is a people-pleaser and has trouble grasping his lack of control over issues. Pastry Pete is used more as a plot device, but he too has problems disrespecting his employees due to a huge ego.
Tuca and Bertie shows how dirty humans can be emotionally. We are able to relate to these animals not only because they have arms and legs, but because they share our personal struggles. Even if it is subconscious, people want to know they aren’t alone in their issues. You could say the show subconsciously panders to that idea.
Please bring it back
Every element in Tuca and Bertie comes together to make itself into a good piece of anthropomorphic tiramisu. Each layer is good on its own, and would even be enjoyed on its own, but keep stacking them on top of each other and that first bite is to die for. It’s sad to see Tuca and Bertie go, but we’re so glad that it was made in the first place.