Drawn Together (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Drawn Together is an American animated television series, which ran on Comedy Central from October 27, 2004 to November 14, 2007. The series was created by Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein, and uses a sitcom format with a TV reality show setting. Like that of The Surreal Life, the show's eight characters are a combination of personalities that were recognizable and familiar prior to the series. Drawn Together, however, uses cartoon parodies of stock characters. In addition, their character traits parody personality types that are typically seen in reality TV shows.
The characters agreed to live in a house together in a setup similar to that of The Real World. Comedy Central advertised it as the first animated reality show, and in some episodes, characters participate in challenges that are similar to reality TV challenges.
After three seasons the show was cancelled but still maintains a cult following. Subsequently, The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! was released on April 20, 2010.
Cast and characters
Main article: List of Drawn Together characters
Captain Leslie Hero (voiced by Jess Harnell): A sociopathic, chauvinistic, perverted, antiheroic, pansexual, and lecherous parody of Superman and other superheroes, with a visual style taken from the cartoons of Bruce Timm and Max Fleischer. Being primarily macho, he is prone to occasional random fits of hysterics akin to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, playing off the "tragic origin" stories of many superheroes.
Princess Clara (voiced by Tara Strong): A pampered, religious, and bigoted princess who is a parody of Disney princesses such as Ariel from The Little Mermaid (1989) and Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991).
Wooldoor Jebediah Sockbat (voiced by James Arnold Taylor): A bizarre children's show character in the mold of SpongeBob SquarePants and Stimpy who displays many of the typical reality-defying behaviors of Looney Tunes characters.
Foxxy Love (voiced by Cree Summer): A sharp-tongued ghetto-parody of Valerie Brown from Hanna-Barbera's Josie and the Pussycats, she is a promiscuous mystery-solving musician. Her name is an amalgam of 1970s blaxploitation characters Foxy Brown and Christy Love.
Toot Braunstein (voiced by Tara Strong): An overweight alcoholic retro colored sex symbol from the 1920s reminiscent of Betty Boop. Toot demands to be the center of attention, cuts herself with razor blades and excessively eats when depressed, and often instigates conflict in the house.
Ling-Ling (voiced by Abbey DiGregorio): A homicidal spoof of Pikachu from the Pokémon franchise, who battles using various supernatural powers/abilities (reminiscent of anime) and speaks in pseudo-Japanese gibberish (or "Japorean", as Ling-Ling's voice Abbey DiGregorio calls it) with English subtitles.
Xandir P. Wifflebottom (voiced by Jack Plotnick): A hypersensitive, homosexual, overemotional, and effeminate parody of video game heroes like Link from The Legend of Zelda series.
Spanky Ham (voiced by Adam Carolla): A sex-obsessed, toilet humored, obnoxious parody of many various Internet Flash cartoon characters.
The show's visual style is that of traditional ink and paint animation, which is actually a departure for Comedy Central, since they usually favor more specialized approaches to animation. The style was chosen both for the retro feel it gives the show and for the versatility it allows the animators, providing an environment in which it is possible to combine many different styles of animation. Another unique aspect of the show is that, where most cartoons present their characters, though animated, as real within the show's world, the Drawn Together characters retain their identities as cartoon characters even within their animated world, and acknowledge their status as animations. The show has cameo appearances by famous characters (or in some cases, copyright-avoiding clones) from all across the animated spectrum.
In keeping with the various animation styles for the characters, Wooldoor and Toot have four fingers on each hand, whereas Clara, Foxxy, Hero, and Xandir have five. In promotional artwork for the show, Toot and Wooldoor are drawn with the standard five fingers, but in the show itself they have four.
Whereas most of the characters are drawn with black outlines, Clara and items belonging to her are drawn with soft edges, a reference to Disney animation techniques, which involve "cleanup" of any black outlines. Contrasting, Toot is drawn in the grainy, high-contrast monochrome of her era's technology.
The show was made by Rough Draft Studios in Glendale, California, with much of the animation done at the studio's facilities in Korea. A gag in "The Drawn Together Clip Show" is that they show a list of all the Korean children who died animating the show.
The movie was produced by Six Point Harness, and done completely with Flash animation.
Comedy Central's original tagline for the show was "Find out what happens when cartoon characters stop being polite" and start making out in hot tubs," referring to Clara and Foxxy's kiss in the pilot episode. The line is a parody of The Real World's tagline, "Find out what happens when people stop being polite" and start getting real." The aforementioned hot tub kiss is considered one of the show's defining images; Comedy Central based nearly all of its first-season promotional material for Drawn Together on it.
A total of three seasons have been produced and completed to date. Season 3 began airing on October 5, 2006, and took a mid-season break which started on November 15, 2006. The second half of season three began airing on October 4, 2007.
In March 2007, it was announced that creators Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein had left Comedy Central and signed a two-year contract with 20th Century Fox Television to create new series and/or work on the studio's existing shows.
The season three finale included multiple jokes about the show's cancellation. TV Guide listed this episode as a series finale and described the episode as follows: "The series wraps up with the housemates participating in a singing competition as they look back on their recent misadventures."
In March 2008, Tara Strong confirmed that the show had been cancelled, and the back of the third season DVD's box refers to it as the "third and final season".
Since cancellation, the show has partial rotation late-nights, and airs uncensored on Comedy Central's Secret Stash and on Logo.
Drawn Together is an animated show that is adult-oriented and laden with black comedy. The humor is largely satirical in nature, its primary focus being the mockery of stereotypes. Some episodes have heavy emphasis on homosexuality or bisexuality, with some episodes (such as "Gay Bash" or "A Very Special Drawn Together Afterschool Special") solely devoted to these topics. Kinky sex is a common topic of conversation; several of the characters have extremely perverse sexual tastes, and the show makes frequent reference to masturbation, paraphilia, and BDSM. Death and violence are also constant themes. Nearly all episodes feature at least one death, and several episodes feature characters going on killing sprees or perpetrating massacres; often they are horribly maimed as well. Even the main cast die with great frequency only to return alive and uninjured, often within the time frame of a single episode (a satire of how cartoon violence never has any negative consequences). The show breaks the fourth wall regularly.
Despite the show's overt and underlined obscenity, the characters' innocent and sensual sides are often the main driving force of the plot (alongside comedic non-sequitur moments intended to parody standard plot lines). This adds romantic comedy, melodrama, action film, war film, court drama and other genres to the pool of spoofing material. Sincere feelings the characters are forced to experience (and comic disregard of thereof) seem to add integrity to the plot and imbue every episode with a genuine moral message, made more efficient by constant spoofing of moral message cliches like "character X has learned a valuable lesson".
The show's content is controversial, partially for its explicit dialogue and graphic violence, but primarily for the casual attitude the show takes toward taboo subject matter. A great deal of the show's humor revolves around making light of difficult topics such as abortion, rape, incest, pedophilia, gay marriage, spousal abuse, racism, homophobia, antisemitism, necrophilia and terrorism. The extensive use of stereotypes is another controversial aspect of the show, though the intent is actually to make fun of bigotry. As Jess Harnell states in the DVD commentary for "Hot Tub", "Most of the racism on the show is coming from people who are so obviously stupid about it; it really isn't that threatening." (Jewish people are mocked, including creators and principal cast member Tara Strong.)
Other content known to be featured on some episodes are occurrences of natural disasters, depictions of authoritarian dictators and sexual fetishes.
Though the two shows are stylistically dissimilar, the coarseness of the humor in Drawn Together has led to frequent comparison with South Park, the show that immediately precedes it on the network. South Park was thought to be extremely profane upon its premiere seven years earlier. By 2004, the preceding cartoon had dropped its TV-MA warning bumper, and almost immediately following, a TV-MA warning was shown before episodes of Drawn Together.
Drawn Together is heavy with popular culture references. Animation is a major source of material; as mentioned above, many characters from comics and animated cartoons make cameo appearances and often are the subjects of parody. However, numerous live action films, TV shows, and video games are referenced as well. Reality shows are another prime inspiration, not surprising given that Drawn Together is presented as a reality show that takes place in a cartoon world. However, although many of the first-season plots made extensive use of the reality show scenario, this aspect of the show has largely been de-emphasized in later episodes. The spoofing of film and television clichés is another common theme on the show; many Drawn Together stories are parodies of overused plots from TV and movies.
Although the characters come from different cartoon worlds with different laws of nature and behavior (Princess Clara's fairy tale kingdom, Xandir's video game reality, Captain Hero's universe of super-heroics with set rules for hero/villain behavior), no explanation for how these worlds co-exist is given. All seem aware that they are in fact animated cartoons and that live action creatures exist.
Another hallmark of the show is its loose continuity. Events in different episodes contradict each other, as there is a loose sense of canon. One such example is in "The Other Cousin", in which Toot is pictured with a penis, but whether or not she actually has one is debatable. Another is Foxxy's various and contradictory stories about her son Timmy (one involves selling him on the black market, another involves her accidentally shooting him after believing him to be rabid, when he was really just brushing his teeth). Often plotlines exist that do not make any kind of internal sense, such as Foxxy, who is in her twenties, having a teenaged grandson. Some episodes even start with a fake recap of events supposed to have happened in a (non-existent) previous episode. According to Executive Producer Bill Freiberger, "Very little on Drawn Together can be considered canon. If you try to find continuity on this show you'll drive yourself nuts. The only thing that's consistent is we try to make the show as funny as possible. And we'd never let a little thing like continuity get in the way of that."
Occasionally, episodes of Drawn Together are shown with less editing for content during Secret Stash, a Comedy Central program aired on weekends at 1 A.M. that showcases movies, comedy specials, and animated programs with uncensored language. Though Secret Stash programs typically have the nudity still censored, Drawn Together is an exception to this. Some nudity not seen in the original broadcast is shown in the Secret Stash version, while the nudity in other scenes is censored with a caption reading "DVD only"; this is done as a way of promoting the show's DVD releases.
Drawn Together features a cast of voice actors, which contains a mix of veteran voice actors (Tara Strong, Cree Summer, Jess Harnell, and James Arnold Taylor) and newcomers to the field (Abbey DiGregorio and Jack Plotnick). Comedian Adam Carolla rounds out the cast.
Members of the show's voice cast collaborated with each other on other projects prior to Drawn Together. Taylor (Wooldoor), Summer (Foxxy), and Strong (Clara and Toot) all performed in the Square Co./Square Enix-developed video games Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 as Tidus/Shuyin, Lady Belgemine/Young Tidus/Lenne (speaking voice)/Calli, and Rikku, respectively. On a similar note, Taylor, Strong, and Jess Harnell all performed in the video game Kingdom Hearts II (also developed by Square Enix) as Captain Jack Sparrow/Timon, Rikku, and Doctor Finklestein/Lock, respectively, while Taylor and Strong both performed in Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie and the Insomniac-developed Ratchet & Clank video game franchise.
Tara Strong and Cree Summer worked together on other projects, most notably Rugrats, All Grown Up!, Danny Phantom, Codename: Kids Next Door, Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater, The Buzz on Maggie (which also features Jess Harnell), and Transformers Animated. According to the DVD commentary for the episode "Hot Tub", the two have known each other since childhood (both grew up in Toronto, Ontario).
Jess Harnell who voiced Captain Hero, voiced Wakko Warner in Animaniacs. Cree Summer also guest starred in one episode of Animaniacs as Elmyra Duff from Tiny Toon Adventures.
Three of the show's voice actors had worked with creators Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein on other projects: Jack Plotnick on Action, and Adam Carolla and Abbey McBride on The Man Show. Two of Drawn Together's guest stars also came from the casts of earlier Jeser/Silverstein projects: "The Other Cousin" guest star Sarah Silverman (from Greg the Bunny), and Carolla's Man Show co-host Jimmy Kimmel, who guest-starred in "Xandir and Tim, Sitting in a Tree" and "Alzheimer's That Ends Well".
Originally, Xandir was to have been played by Nat Faxon, but he was fired following the first table read because the network felt his portrayal of the character was too stereotypically gay. Gay actor Jack Plotnick ended up being cast because he could play a gay man without resorting to stereotypical mannerisms such as the gay lisp.
In addition to their regular roles, the show's cast provides many of the minor roles and guest voices on the series, Summer, Strong, Harnell, and Taylor in particular. In the DVD commentary for "Hot Tub", Tara Strong jokes that this is because the show does not have a lot of money to pay guest stars. Chris Edgerly appears in the majority of Season One and Two episodes despite not having a regular role on the series.
Criticism and controversy
Initial reception of the pilot episode, "Hot Tub", was given mediocre reviews which focused mostly on its crudity. USA Today deemed Drawn Together "the smutty offspring of Real World and Superfriends," stating that the pilot pushed the limits of taste, being overpowered by violence, sex, and disgusting subject matter. According to The New York Times, "Hot Tub", while it had many good sight gags, did not go far enough in parodying reality television. The domination of Clara's racism in the story was criticized as being a weak attempt to "send up racism while still showcasing its cruel excitement." Toot's cutting was praised as a good parody of self-harm present on reality shows, but Spanky's flatulence was considered more disgusting than humorous.
Principal cast member Tara Strong has stated that she deeply loves the show, as it was such a departure from the family-friendly productions that she was used to working on at the time; the only problems that she had with it were a few jokes related to Anne Frank.
Main article: List of Drawn Together episodes
Season One Uncensored
October 4, 2005
Uncensored and extended versions of every episode
Commentary by Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein (along with cast and crew) on "Hot Tub", "Clara's Dirty Little Secret", "The Other Cousin", and "The One Wherein There Is a Big Twist"
Karaoke/sing along versions of the show's songs
Season Two Uncensored
September 25, 2007
Uncensored and extended versions of every episode
Commentary by Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein (along with cast and crew) on "Clum Babies", "Super Nanny", "Terms of Endearment", and "A Very Special Drawn Together Afterschool Special"
Commentary on the commentary of "Terms of Endearment"
Behind the scenes interviews with the cast and creators
Karaoke/sing along versions of the show's songs
Season Three Uncensored
May 13, 2008
Uncensored and extended versions of every episode
Commentary by Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein (along with cast and crew) on "Freaks & Greeks", "Lost in Parking Space, Part One", "Drawn Together Babies", and "Breakfast Food Killer"
Original network promos from all three seasons
Karaoke/sing along versions of the show's songs
Complete Series: Party in Your Box
November 17, 2009
All three season sets
Get the DTs Drinking Game
Drawn Together: Truth or Dare?
Collectible board game
Sneak peek of the upcoming movie
The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!
April 20, 2010
Drawn Together True Confessionals
Drawn Together: The Legacy
Anatomy of an Animated Sex Scene
Re-Animating Drawn Together: From the Small Screen to the Slightly Bigger Screen
D.I.Y. 3D Glasses Additional Scenes: Deleted Scenes
Drawn Together Minisodes
Audio commentary with Matt Silverstein, Dave Jeser, Jordan Young & Kurt Vanzo
The first season of Drawn Together was released on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment on October 4, 2005. Its release was timed to coincide with the premiere of Season Two on television. The set includes all seven aired first season episodes. (By the time the release was finalized, it had been determined that the unaired "Terms of Endearment" would air during Season Two, so it was left off the set and eventually released as part of the Season Two set). The profanity and nudity are intact and uncensored. Some shows also contain additional lines and scenes. Special features include audio commentary on select episodes by creators Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein along with assorted cast and crew members, in addition to deleted scenes and karaoke/singalong versions of the show's songs.
The set has a game called the Censored/Uncensored game: A line is given, and the viewer must decide if the line aired on television as given (uncensored), or if it had to be altered significantly or deleted (censored). Some of the censored lines appear intact in the extended DVD version of the episode. Getting at least 11 of the 19 questions correct unlocks a hidden feature, a prank phone call by Jeser and Silverstein to their agent regarding the royalties they are to receive for the DVD audio commentaries.
The song "Time of My Life" from "Dirty Pranking No. 2" had to be left off the first season DVD because of copyright concerns. The show mocked the situation in the lyrics of the replacement music.
Season Two Uncensored was released on September 25, 2007. Like the Season One set, the set features audio commentaries by Jeser and Silverstein along with assorted cast and crew members, as well as karaoke/singalong versions of the show's songs. The set also contains, in the words of the box art, "potentially annoying" commentary on the commentary for "Terms of Endearment". The behind-the-scenes interviews in the set are the same ones that appear on Comedy Central's website, which feature each of the voice actors talking about his or her character, along with a separate interview with creators Jeser and Silverstein. Tara Strong does two separate interviews, one for each of her characters (Princess Clara and Toot Braunstein).
The set includes the controversial horse shot from "Terms of Endearment", which was not allowed to air on television.
Season Three Uncensored was released on May 13, 2008.