Cartoon Network // 2008 // 230 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // April 15th, 2009
The team behind Aqua Team Hunger Force provides you with a comedy based in the Deep South of Georgia. It consists of alcohol abuse, bloody and prejudiced violence, slurred speech, and slimy tentacles. So, everything you would expect then.
As a diehard fan of South Park and The Simpsons, there is nothing I enjoy more than a well crafted and sharp piece of satire. My general creed on such matters is that as long as it's fresh and funny, there need be no accounting for taste, and in the search for comedic gold, socially acceptable boundaries can be crossed. Both of the aforementioned shows regularly push said taste barriers but with a degree of comedy skill that makes it ok, and which separates them from less impressive imitators. Squidbillies is one such effort, a program devised to mix provocative laughter fuel with a commentary on the primitive nature of the Deep South, featuring squid instead of human hicks. Trouble is the satire is far too recycled and general; it's a show with a weird hook that fails to expand or intrigue beyond the bizarre concept. Basically for something so odd on surface level, Squidbillies is depressingly formulaic when you examine it any deeper.
The show follows the Cuyler family who are most notable for their Southern mannerisms and the fact that they would most definitely be more comfortable underwater. You see they are squid, and a rather violent and offensive example of the species. The dysfunctional dynamic of the clan encompasses Early Cuyler an alcoholic and abusive ex-convict, Rusty Cuyler the slightly more measured yet equally as backward son of Early, and Early's decrepit grandmother who frequently displays the characteristics of nymphomania. Together they wreck havoc against the Georgian backdrop, interacting with an equally colorful and wild group of supporting characters.
The first two questions one has to ask when examining a product of this satirical nature are:
1) Is it funny?
2) Does it have anything incisive to say about culture, society or politics?
When it comes to Squidbillies, the answer for both questions is the same. No, not really. I approached the show with caution but also a willingness to embrace its blatantly silly concept, yet on nearly every level it disappointed. One would have presumed that after dreaming up a core idea as farfetched as the one at the heart of Squidbillies, the makers would in turn have the creative will to concoct some fresh jokes to accompany it. Sadly that's not the case, the show just runs the same hillbilly satire we've heard hundreds of times and in some instances from far funnier sources.
The key jokes and themes that make up the bite-size 11 minutes episodes are as follows:
1) Southern stereotypes talk in an uneducated fashion
2) Southern stereotypes have a narrow view of the world and society in general
3) Southern stereotypes endure mass poverty
4) Southern stereotypes are violent and love guns
5) Southern stereotypes like alcohol
6) Southern stereotypes often end up in jail
7) Southern stereotypes are racist
8) Southern Stereotypes are lazy
9) Southern stereotypes of the female persuasion are overweight, whorish and ugly
10) Southern stereotypes struggle with technology
If that sounds like a cocktail of original and wonderfully sharp parody, then by all means give Squidbillies a go, but beforehand crawl out of the rock you must have inhabited for the last 20 years. These jokes and ideas have been milked many times and often by sources that simply use it as a back-up gag. For instance, The Simpsons lampoons the hillbilly through the character of Cletus the yokel, but never really use him as more than a well timed filler gag surrounded by vastly more acerbic material. In the case of Squidbillies, all it has are broadly drawn and vulgar attempts at Southern mockery.
Despite being presented in the short 11 minute timeframe, episodes of Squidbillies get old fast. They often start with one generous laugh then trail off as the script consistently plugs the same tired material. String that pattern out over 20 episodes and you could see how it begins to aggravate, within the whole of Squidbillies: Volume 2 I would estimate you get a dozen good giggles. A good single episode of The Simpsons would have no trouble in nearly doubling that quota.
The DVD features a smattering of bonus features, but none that will inspire many beyond your average Squidbillies fanatic. There are features involving the creators attending Dragon-Con, some to do with the art and admittedly clever music utilized on the show, and most bizarrely a short clip in which the main characters are envisioned as dragons. It's really not as funny as it might sound. Other than that it's all filler and even the supposedly good extras are of limited interest or entertainment value.
In fairness to the show, a handful of the characters are cool and would have worked nicely with a more imaginative script or set of jokes. The best is easily Early, who's foul mouth and harsh temperament probably combine for most of the funny gags on show. Also as mentioned above some of the music used is funny and well constructed the ever morphing lyrics for the intros are often the funniest thing about any given episode.
A disappointingly one dimensional and unoriginal parody, Squidbillies occasionally flashes a little bit of promise only to undo it with more formulaic and unimaginative barbs aimed at the hillbilly way of life.
Send this one back to the oceanic catacombs from which it came. Or at least
sentence its creators to mould a few dozen more fresh and funny jokes.
Review content copyright © 2009 Daniel Kelly; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cartoon Network
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 230 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Wikipedia: Squidbillies