I have seen some pretty bizarre animated stuff on television in the last decade what with the shows on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, Robot Chicken, The Oblongs, Family Guy and Archer, but the perversity bar has been raised substantially by a minor series on Comedy Central, Ugly Americans.
Ugly Americans is very much like an underground comic in style and content. It strives for a peculiar brand of sick humor invested in gore and, as the title implies, full bore ugliness. If 21st Century American society isn't twisted enough for you, imagine that the aliens being assimilated aren't just poor people crossing the desert for shit jobs but monsters, zombies and demons instead.
In the Men In Black movies the aliens have managed to make themselves invisible, for the most part, by wearing disguises. In Ugly Americans the devils, zombies, two-headed worms, and birdmen are not just out in the open, but impacting every last facet of life in the city. Standard issue humans such as the main character in the series, social worker Mark, whose job it is to help monsters fit in like part of the normal fabric of city life act as if the horror all around them is just the way it is. Of course, other characters have agendas based on their unusual conditions.
With regular visits to Hell and therapy sessions for robots and robot haters you would expect the show to have unlimited access to funny situations. Unfortunately, that isn't what transpires. For some reason this show falls flat and hits more buttons as bizarre than as humorous. As flat as Mark's narration and the dull pastel palette that announces this is an alternative from the sea of other subversive animated shows (the many twisted children of The Simpsons) now crowding the airwaves.
|Randall and Mark, the odd and undead couple.|
It might be the fact that I have worked as a caregiver and cleaned up every liquid and semi-solid that a human body can possibly produce at one time or another that has made me jaded to gross- out humor. Either I find it outstandingly funny, such as the infamous Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Ackroyd impersonating Julia Child as she rapidly bleeds to death hemorrhaging so much blood you'd think her hand had been connected to a fire hose and the Monty Python sketch concerning one "Mister Creosote" in The Meaning of Life, or I find it incredibly unfunny as the stillborn humor is on this show.
I would suggest that the writers of Ugly Americans pay a visit to FX and watch a few episodes of Archer where the button-down look of the characters and their environment has enough disconnect from what is going on to cause some real laughter to emerge from the audience. I don't think a laugh track could cause Ugly Americans to be funny.
That is really too bad considering the promise the premise of this show held. I was truly hoping I would find this series to be a breath of fresh warp. After all, there are wolfmen and horned demons on board. There is some sickness here for those of the decidedly death-and-disgust orientation. I'd like to say that even the very overt sexual humor is perverse enough to satisfy, but it only comes off as material with the subtlety and humor of incendiary bombs.
Check it out for yourself here. You might just like it enough to want to download entire episodes here. I doubt it.