Adult Swim's Smiling Friends
By Connor Lammas
While adult animated shows like Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman have opted for more depressive themes, Adult Swim’s new show, Smiling Friends, has taken up the deceptively simple task of making people genuinely smile. Co-created by internet animation veterans Zach Hadel and Michael Cusack, Smiling Friends’ strengths include out of pocket humor, grotesque yet fluid animation, blink or you’ll miss it visual gags, and an all star cast of voice actors and contributors. With a short, eighty minute runtime, Smiling Friends has set itself up to be the most bingeable show this year. Smiling Friends’ unique sense of humor and compelling characters have breathed new life into the weary adult animation genre.
Smiling Friends follows the employees of Smiling Friends Inc. whose mission is to solve people’s problems and make them smile. Our two leads, the cynical Charlie and the naive Pim, voiced by Hadel and Cusack respectively, help each episode’s subject solve their problems through, at times, conflicting approaches. Over the course of the show Charlie and Pim help memorable characters ranging in quirkiness from a canceled, talking, sitcom-starring frog, to a lonely, incel, gamer shrimp, to even Satan.
Part of what makes Smiling Friends unique in the adult animation landscape is its internet humor background. Many of Smiling Friends’ creators and contributors are from the early internet animation and comedy scene, dating as far back as Newgrounds, a platform that existed well before YouTube. Smiling Friends feels authentic and manages to capture that early YouTube and internet charm by employing some of the early internet’s biggest names including cameo appearances by Joshua Tomar, Lyle Burruss, The Angry Video Game Nerd, and Mike Stoklasa and a theme song composed by Chris O’Neill. Despite being an homage to an earlier internet age, Smiling Friends manages to feel fresh in 2022 because it also features some contemporary pop-culture figures like cringe-worthy YouTuber, Chills, Finn Wolfhard, and Gilbert Gottfried. If you were a fan of Newgrounds animation and early internet humor as a child, this show will scratch an itch you probably didn’t realize you still had. Even if you primarily stayed on Club Penguin and Webkinz, Smiling Friends is a hilarious show that is sure to make you smile due to its witty writing, unique aesthetic, and charming characters.
Connor Lammas is a junior in the College studying Government and serves as the Co-Executive Editor.