Warning! This article is NSFW!
This article may contain content unsuitable for readers under eighteen years or older.
Smiling Friends is an Australian-American adult-animated pilot created by Hellbenders co-creator Zach Hadel and Michael Cusack for Adult Swim. It premiered on April 1, 2020 during Adult Swim's annual 2020 April Fools' Day. Adult Swim ordered a full season that was initially set to premiere in late 2021. A panel dedicated to the series was held during the Adult Swim Festival on November 12, 2021, where co-creator Zach Hadel mentioned the show will premiere "within a few months", pushing the release schedule ahead to 2022. The first season contains 8 episodes, including the pilot. The first season eventually premiered on January 10, 2022, with Adult Swim airing all episodes of the season in one night despite initial plans for a weekly release. Smiling Friends was a critical and commercial success, receiving widespread acclaim from both audiences and critics for its characterization, humor, writing, and integration of mixed media including 2D animation, 3D animation, stop motion, and live action. The series was renewed for a second season on February 9, 2022.
A small company dedicated to bringing happiness to the world, called the "Smiling Friends". receive a simple request to help a woman's unhappy son smile again. They send members Pim and Charlie to take on the task, but the job turns out to be more complicated than it seems. As this is happening, Allan searches the Smiling Friends office for his lost piece of cheese.
Why It Makes You Smile
- Smiling Friends is a testament to the modern-day creative landscape of what personal content creation can lead to and how it focuses on artist-to-consumer interactions that allow the creators, writers, animators of animation (or anything relating of the sort) to be more grounded and appreciative of the craft and their impact on it.
- The show has an obviously ridiculous atmosphere, from it's little/crazy characters, to it's wacky society. Now, while it is "ridiculous," real-life moments that we all may have, or have experienced are brought to life through the writing.
- The short is simatenously a veiled commentary on society's crude obsession with transient pleasures which we oftentimes define to be the goals of our life and not simply a passing fad.
- The characters and personalities, from any of the Smiling Friends crew or an assorted background/minor character, are by far the most driving factors of the show itself.
- The flawless voice performance of legendary actor Mike Stoklasa, internally channeling the persona of his iconic creation, the elderly fictional film critic Mr. Plinkett, into the character of Desmond and the result just screams perfection. That deep sagacious voice truly resonates with the absurdist notions of life as projected by this cartoon.
- The animation, a subtle departure from other familiar [adult swim] series, has its own bizarre, fascinating, and equally fantastic sense of pace and insanity. For example, the use of stop motion and CGI is very top notch due how it is so crude and intentionally ugly that it's very funny at the same time.
- The looseness of the drawing style helps the craziness never seem like its on rails, it truly feels like you're in the mind of two nutbag internet artists and it is great.
- While the animation is pretty good most of the time, it can look pretty stiff at times, especially during the conversation scenes, considering that it is animated by Bento Box Entertainment. It can also look very disturbing (but not in a good way) such as when the guard demon first appears before going back to normal.
- The Enchanted Forest episode is rather lackluster, mostly because of Charlie unfairly earning the respect of the Enchanted Forest's inhabitants and even being heralded as its hero, which is everything Pim wanted, but never got any of it, making said episode similar to that of a torture episode.
- They originally intended to use the notorious Comic Sans font for the credits but were unable to acquire the rights to use it.
- The quote, "Look Pim, I know it's our job to help this guy and everything, but I think this guy's a lost cause. He's obviously made up his mind, why don't we just cut our losses and get out of here." became a meme.