This interview with Scott Adsit went up at The AV Club last week, and made me interested in seeing more episodes of the Adult Swim show Moral Orel. This was a show I was excited about when it started, due to Dino Stamatopoulos' comedy-writing history. It ended up not being as good as I would want it to, and watching Adult Swim programming online was always sort of a dicey proposition with how things would go on-and-offline at will. Now, it was being canceled for being bleak, depressing, and not fitting with the rest of the Adult Swim content. Sounds great.
I ended up catching a new episode premiere last night. It was pretty great.
The argument that the show is not anti-religion, but is just a satire of religious hypocrisy, never held any water with me, though. This is clear more than ever now that it is so bleak. It's actively nihilistic, people are horrible to each other. It's not without empathy, but I never get the impression that the character's main problem is their hypocritical approach to religion.
But the episode I saw last night? Great. Here are some insane reference points for this show: Chris Ware comics. Lynda Barry's novel Cruddy. The Wire. Wonder Showzen. Early seasons of The Simpsons. Chris Ware for the way bleakness is being presented passed down from generation to generation. Cruddy for similar reasons, but with the addition of the real threat of violence. The Wire... again, bleakness, but also for being a TV show that really makes you feel empathy. Wonder Showzen for the general presentational parody approach that accentuates the void of its worldview. And The Simpsons for how it takes that and filters it into a more narrative form using the family. I don't know, it really struck me as a piece of work. Watching other episodes from the season online this afternoon were not quite as strong, but still gave me the impression that watching all of it, in order and in big chunks, would really be quite the thing to bring on a dark place.
The way that Mountain Goats songs are used works really well- I have done the thing in the past where I listened to that stuff obsessively, and it's not at all uncommon. This actually feels like it's earning its music choices, and not just using it as indie-culture referents the way that a live-action comedy about teenagers and twenty-somethings would. The songs are used to really devastating effect, because they're actually coming from a real place of identification and empathy. I really hope the third season gets a DVD release.