After an unannounced marathon of the whole first season in one night and a one-time Brazil-themed special, it’s safe to say that Smiling Friends has become Adult Swim’s latest smash hit. Charlie and Pim are employees of a company called “Smiling Friends.” Their job is to make their clients happy, which is why critics and audiences love their adventures.
The show has two kinds of comedy that are at opposite ends of the spectrum. One is as dry as burnt toast, and the other is so absurd that it bounces off the walls. Together, they show what makes internet-influenced humour work in 11-minute chunks. With all this success, it’s not surprising that Adult Swim decided to give the show another season.
Zach Hadel and Michael Cusack, who used to work at Newgrounds, are in charge of making the show. Cusack also worked on the Adult Swim shows YOLO: Crystal Fantasy and Bushworld Adventures. Since the show came out, the two have been very open about how they come up with their ideas. They have talked about it on several podcasts and on a panel at the most recent Adult Swim Fest. This openness, along with what we already know about how the two work together and on their own, can give us a good idea of what to expect in season two.
More About the Supporting Players
When a show only has a few episodes and a short run time, the writers have to deal with some interesting challenges. Charlie and Pim have had a lot of screen time to develop their characters, but the other characters haven’t had nearly as much time. This mostly affects Alan and Glep, the other two people who work at the Smiling Friends office.
Alan and Glep have small roles in season one. Alan accidentally solves the conflict in the show’s pilot, and Glep has a small role in episode two, “Mr. Frog.” On the other hand, outside of these two situations, these two people don’t really have a lot of other things to do. They only show up at the beginning, in the background, or for quick jokes. Because of this, we know almost nothing about Alan and Glep as people. Even though that isn’t always a bad thing for a comedy show, it would be nice to see them take on a client on their own or at least be the focus of one or two episodes.
More Guests, Some Expected, Some Not
Even though Smiling Friends was just starting out, it had a lot of well-known guests for its first season. Notably, the show gave the late Gilbert Gottfried his last role on TV. In the season one finale, Charlie Dies and Doesn’t Come Back, Gottfried played God. Other prominent guests include Nick and Finn Wolfhard, who make cameo appearances in the pilot episode of the show, as well as Jane Badler, who appears for a live-action part in the episode titled “Mr. Frog.” Badler is a cast member on NBC’s V series. Because it is one of the most diverse collections of talent that has been assembled for a single project in recent memory, it is impossible to predict who else might contribute to the ensemble and how they will be involved.
Justin Roiland is a candidate who stands out. He worked with Hadel on Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity event in 2018, and he also made the original material that Cusack’s Bushworld Adventures makes fun of. Jonathan Jafari and Michael Stevens, who are well-known online for their shows JonTron and Vsauce, could also lend their voices. The main reason for this is that they were guests on Hadel’s podcast, Schmucks.
Chris O’Neill, Harry Partridge, and other internet animators who worked with Hadel and Cusack on their previous online projects have also worked on the production crew and done voice work. It wouldn’t be surprising if they came back in some way for season two, either to voice small parts or to keep helping with the show.
More kinds of cartoons
When people saw Smiling Friends for the first time, they were surprised by how often the show used different animation styles. In just nine episodes, the show uses traditional 2D animation, 3D models, stop-motion clay figures, rotoscoping, and live-action performances to make a memorable series of sight gags and character expressions. The animation style of the show doesn’t really follow any rules. Every episode has a different thing to look at, making the most of animation as a visual medium. This is certain to keep going into the next season.
In episode four, “A Silly Halloween Special,” the show was even brave enough to break from its own comedic formula. Most of the episode is a straight-up scary horror short with a darker colour palette, more detailed movements, and a real sense of panic and urgency. The dramatic shift in tone, which Hadel and Cusack handle so well, sets the stage for what else they could do besides what they’ve done so far with comedy.
No one really knows what will happen to Smiling Friends in the future. If season one is any indication, though, the strange things that Hadel and Cusack have come up with are sure to make fans laugh.
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