“Is this gonna be more like 'Futurama' or 'Rick and Morty'?” a character asks in the early minutes of Netflix’s adult animated sitcom “Farzar.” And sure, this cynical appeal to viewers’ familiarity with those far-better series aside, there are superficial similarities in Waco O’Guin and Roger Black’s latest creation—the rounded character designs, the penchant for sci-fantasy chaos, a cast of characters centered around robots and mad scientists.
But “Farzar” is less a pastiche of those series than it is “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” as written by 15-year-old Redditors. If obnoxious strings of faux-edgy jokes and sight gags aren’t your speed, you’ll have a really, really bad time watching it.
Farzar, you see, is the name of the far-flung, Eternia-like planet on which our story takes place, and where the chiseled, flaxen-haired hero Renzo (Lance Reddick) has established himself as czar after defeating an alien invasion and marrying the “slightly older” (read: withered and decrepit) Queen Flammy (Grey Griffin).
But that also means having to play daddy to 30-year-old failson Fichael (Dana Snyder), who’s never left the protective dome of their Edenic city. After all, it’s the only thing protecting them from the evil machinations of the Skeletor-like Bazarack (also Snyder). (In an early portent of the show’s brand of humor, its central spire is basically a gilded futuristic phallis.)
When Fichael turns 30, Renzo begrudgingly makes him a general and puts him in charge of the (long, baleful sigh here) S.H.A.T. Squad and its team of misfits—Fichael’s robotic BFF Scootie (Jerry Minor), a cyborg whose only remaining human part is his dick; conjoined twins Mal and Val Skullcrusher (Kari Wahlgren), respectively a grizzled commando and touchy-feely mom type; Barry Barris (David Kaye), Farzar’s top scientist and a lazy mashup of Rick Sanchez and “Archer”’s Dr. Krieger; and his creation Billy, a mashup monstrosity of a bunch of different animals that’s just barely sapient enough to masturbate in public.
O’Guin and Black are the minds behind “Brickleberry” and “Paradise PD,” so if you’ve got an familiarity with those series you know what to expect. Episodes are less plotted or scripted than vehicles for the same sophomoric dick, fart, or poop joke; characters are little more than mouthpieces for their one character trait/fundamental joke. Fichael is an oblivious manchild, Bazarack is a sassy camp queen of a villain, Barry is an amoral, perverted genius, rinse, repeat. You will know these jokes, because they will explain them to you in dialogue, over and over and over again.
Imagine “Family Guy”’s penchant for lol-epic bacon random humor and absurd cutaways, stripped of any cultural literacy or timing and supercut into a single episode, and you’ll glean a lot of “Farzar”’s vibe. Every joke comes complete with matching verbal explanation or preface, signposting each gag as if desperate their teenage, inattentive audience won’t get it the first time. Bazarack calls himself “sassy” multiple times in a single episode, in case you don’t get his Whole Thing by now. But then again, this is the kind of show that pauses for laughter when a character titters that they take their shoes off on airplanes. It’s not a show designed to cater to any kind of attention span.
What little story there is, concerning Fichael’s slow but steady sympathy for the alien creatures that Renzo subjugates on a daily basis, comes in fits and spurts. “Farzar” is instead much more interested in which sex crimes it can have Barry luridly admit to, or how much Renzo hates having sex with his elderly wife. (“When I stick it in, it sounds like someone’s making keys.” Hardy har.) Its cast of characters is maddeningly thin, leaving an otherwise talented voice cast utterly wasted. (Of the two Lance Reddick-led Netflix joints premiering this weekend, run, don’t walk to “Resident Evil” instead.)
Granted, shows like this already have a built-in defense mechanism: People who don’t like it are just lame, moralistic prudes! Just turn your brain off! But “Farzar” doesn’t do anything with its characters or its edgy sense of humor. It thinks the existence of a dick or vagina or butthole, or repeating phrases like “fat, gap-toothed f**ker” is, by its nature, hilarious. It’s one thing for animated shows to chuck story out the window in favor of gags, but you’ve got to make them varied and, I don’t know, actually funny.
After the twelfth joke about big Black (or Pacific Islander) dicks, or characters being pooped out alien assholes, or little turd monsters with cowboy hats called “Little Bob Dukie,” I begged for the sweet release of death. (True story: my laptop actually died after finishing episode one, as if to spare itself the pain of the remaining hour of “Farzar” that awaited it.)
To paraphrase Luke Wilson at the close of Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy,” we need more than media featuring nothing but farting asses—we need stories, so you care whose ass it was and why it was farting. “Farzar” is the closest thing I’ve seen to the Oscar-winning “Ass” featured in that film, and a grim reminder of how little some animated shows ask of their audience.
Three episodes screened for review. "Farzar" is now available on Netflix.