Wendy and I just acquired the fifth season of Futurama. While some might imagine that a cartoon series about a crazy delivery company in the year 3000 might be suitable for children, those some would be very wrong. This newest season comes after a long hiatus where Futurama was off the air and the writers seem to have decided that since the show came back from the dead they have a licence to say just about anything... and they sure do. The show was always awesome and always a bit zany but this newest set of shows kicks it up a notch; in particular they seem determined to make brutal fun of industry leaders, evangelism and homophobia. To give an example of the zaniness, imagine this:
Amy (a human) and Bender (a robot) decide for ridiculous reasons that they are in love. The show has a running theme about robosexuality, the taboo practice of robots being romantically involved with humans. A prudish old man alerts the robot evangelicals who come and kidnap Bender and attempt to remove his morally questionable robosexual tendencies. This involves having the robot robosexuals 'attack' dummies made up to look like buxom human women in an orgy of destruction. Well, destruction is the stated intent, but instead the robots end up making out with their dummies while the robot clergyman looks on, urging them to greater and greater feats of 'destruction' while getting sweaty and twitchy. Then the robot clergyman urges them to swap partners and continue their 'attack' with greater vigor. The savage mockery of the sexual repression of church authorities makes me smile to no end. These images are truly hilarious to watch but aren't exactly the makings of suitable saturday morning cartoons for little ones.
Obviously since this is me it must be assumed that some of my enjoyment of these episodes comes from the glorious roasting of homophobes and evangelical Christianity. That certainly isn't all of it though as I really do have a love for the characters and the constant pokes at the ridiculous edges of our culture today leave no target unscathed. I want Fry to eventually find a way to convince Leela to be with him and I also want him to actually give her a good reason for doing so! Sadly there is a real limit to how much a sitcom can tell a really wrenching love story so I expect at the end things will wrap up with a punch line instead of a riveting moment between two characters. I might be wrong though, as what is the saddest moment on TV came from a Futurama episode (Fry's Dog), and if you have not seen that episode then you should; it is incredible how much punch a cartoon based on alien invasion, cultural commentary and crass language can have when it wants to.
I wonder if the producers really did set out to break new boundaries when they started this new set of shows. There does seem to be a trend that shows get more and more outrageous the longer they run until they eventually jump the shark and collapse and I do hope this one manages to continue its run of insanity a long, long time.