DISCLAIMER: Hello everybody! This month we are taking a different approach for our weekly Wednesday posts. Anime Club will be temporarily postponed (Consider it a Season 2, mainly just so I can catch up on my list of shows to watch) and for the month of July we will be taking a look at Fox’s Animation Domination High-Def shows. This week we have High School USA!
HIGH SCHOOL USA!
STARRING: Vincent Kartheiser, T.J. Miller, Nathan Barnatt, Mandy Moore, Zosia Mamet, Jake Johnson, Dino Stamatopoulos
CREATED BY: Dino Stamatopoulos
GENRE: Adult Animation, Satire, Black Comedy
COUNTRY: United States
High School USA! is from Dino Stamatopoulos (the stop-motion “Moral Orel” but also “Mr. Show” and “Community”) The look is pretty much Riverdale High, with an Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and Moose in place (no Reggie), except the Archie analog (Vincent Kartheiser, who also voices Bat Warthog Man on “Axe Cop”) has dysmorphia, the Veronica (Asian) makes out with the Betty, the Jughead is named Blackstein (because he’s black and Jewish, I guess) and the Moose is a sensitive bully with a fat, abusive mother.
Turn it on, and just tune in for the musical intro. If after a few rewinds you aren’t reciting the lyrics over and over again to your dog watching the show with you, then you may not be human. With the intro you get the added bonus of a pretty funny show and its getting even funnier because the adults are starting to get more and more involved.As a matter of fact High School USA! as a whole is a show that is a lot of opposites which is probably the reason why this is going to stick around a bunch longer.
Featuring the vocal talents of Vincent Kartheiser, Mandy Moore, Jake Johnson, T.J. Miller and Ike Barinholtz, USA! was created by suspected genius Dino Stamatopoulos, who was a writer on all of your favorite influential comedy shows: Late Night with Conan O’Brien (a part of the original writing staff), The Ben Stiller Show, Mr. Show, TV Funhouse, and Community. He’s the creator and writer of the former Adult Swim series Moral Orel and the officially currently on hiatus Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole, and his specific knowledge of Swim’s brand is on full display on his Fox show. For one thing, it looks just like the Archie comics, so the subversiveness is baked in, and in it’s headier moments plays like a live action Roy Lichtenstein painting. For another, Stamatopoulos loved to give Moral Orel episodes a creeping sensation that a WTF moment was just around the corner lurking in the next scene, with the expectation usually becoming reality; in the pilot episode of High School USA! that moment came when the two female characters started to make out kind of out of nowhere (the trailer indicates that the shock value will get ratcheted up with dick picks and S & M in later episodes. Fox wants you to believe this is a cartoon Porky’s).
Too give you a quick example:
“The plot of “Bullies!” found T.J. Miller’s Brad being shunned for being accurately labeled as a bully, and he is treated the same way an outed homosexual would by intolerant idiots. The joke continues past its expiration date; your mileage may vary depending on your interpretation on whether its a joke on the ignorance and mob mentality of high school students or if its a string of dumb gay jokes. It’s a plot that would not be out of place on Moral Orel nor South Park.”
People need to know that High School USA! is a rude animated satire of high school narratives with many jokes and situations parents will find offensive. There are many sexual entendres and images: animated near-naked bodies, a girl sitting on a toilet, a mother making obscene hand gestures. There are jokes about rape and suicide, and rough and insulting language, though no cursing. The female characters on the show are portrayed in a sexist fashion, always in short dresses and concerned with shopping and dances. Teachers, parents, and other authority figures are weak and useless. Characters scuffle and punch each other; blood flies from noses.
There are a couple of laugh out loud moments that don’t rely on raunchiness or comments on touchy subjects (mostly involving Brad; one playing on the show’s time period against its incongruous aesthetic), but like South Park the spotlight will be on the raunchiness and the comments on touchy subjects. I may have just explained why the advertising for this show has been virtually nonexistent.
- Controversial subjects.
- Dark satire of “Archie” comics.
- Superb voice cast.
- Many of the laugh out loud moments relies on raunchiness.
- Definitely offensive to the wrong audience.
SCORE: 8.0 / 10
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