Futurama kind of sucks now

Wednesday, 18 October 2023

This post will contain spoilers on Hulu’s initial season of Futurama.

I’ve watched this show and its movies since the beginning, so when I learned that show has been picked up for revival (again) I was cautiously optimistic. Futurama has long been one of my favourite cartoons, with many quotes and scenarios from the show staying fresh in my mind, including:

  • why not zoidberg?
  • I don’t want to live on this planet anymore
  • Zoidberg’s “sandwich-heavy portfoilio”
  • stop exploding you cowards!
Once again, the conservative, sandwich-heavy portfolio pays off for the hungry investor!

Once I started watching the latest season of Futurama, which is either season 8 or season 11 depending on how you like to number things, I found it hard to convince myself to keep watching; and stopped after only 4 episodes.

Admittedly it has been a while since I have watched any Futurama, having been 10 years since the last new episode, but it feels like it has taken a lot effort to try to make it even partway through this most recent season, now being managed by Hulu. The show seems to have lost its identity and is somewhat of a shadow of its former self. The best example from the episodes I’ve seen so far is from episode 3 “How the West Was 1010001”; this episode is centered around Bitcoin, not some 1000 years in the future thing like Bitcoin but Bitcoin itself as it is today. What is the point in having a setting in a fantastical future when the story being told could be in any modern-day setting?

Other episodes mainly seem to focus heavily on callbacks to previous episodes; such as Amy & Kif’s children or the brain worms that Fry once got infested with. It feels like the show is too afraid to advance itself into any new stories or arcs and wants to stay safe with callbacks to the old times.

The pacing of the episodes seems kind of off. Episode 2 “Children of a Lesser Bog” starts with Fry and Bender making some candy which is so sticky it pulls out teeth, and this just pivots into the main story with only a minor callback to the candy later on. I would expect with such a significant amount of time and attention being brought to this candy it would have some sort of payoff later on but it ends up just being a random joke that doesn’t mesh with the rest of the episode. The entire candy B plot could be removed as it doesn’t really mesh with the episode, ending up feeling quite out of place. Despite saying it could be removed, I believe if the episode had been rewritten such that the candy B plot was the main focus of the episode it would have been a stronger story with more possibilities for exploring what Futurama can be, since it wouldn’t just be a callout to an old episode, which didn’t even need a follow-up.

I wonder how much of this is just looking back with nostalgia at the older episodes, but I think I just wanted to rant a bit about how a show I used to like doesn’t seem very good anymore; and maybe some things are best left in the past.

Written Wednesday, 18 October 2023

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