A show about teaching kids to deal with divorce approaches it through universal messages and creative storytelling.
Tulip (Ashley Johnson) is a 12-year-old girl who desires to be a programmer and software engineer. Her parents Megan and Andy (Audrey Wasilewski and Mark Fite) are currently getting a divorce and, due to their scheduling issues, are unable to take Tulip to her session of game-design camp. Angry, Tulip runs away and somehow finds a train in the middle of nowhere. She’s sucked inside and finds that each of the train cars is impossibly huge, each with its own theme and world. She’s aided by the two-in-one robot One-One (Jeremy Crutchley and Owen Dennis) and Atticus, the King of the Corgis (Ernie Hudson). Together, they have to find a way to get Tulip off of the train, which turns out to be more about Tulip than the train.
This show is a hallmark of efficient storytelling. The entire series, binged, is 100 minutes long, meaning that you can get through the whole thing in less time than 2 episodes of Game of Thrones. Despite the relative brevity, the pacing of the show is so fast that you will swear you just spent a full day getting attached to these characters. It’s similar to Adventure Time or Over the Garden Wall, both animated series which use a lot of imagery and cuts to convey more to the audience than just the script would. They’re also series that routinely try to convey deeper meaning through extended metaphor rather than just telling the audience what to think, something this series also excels at.
The art style isn’t super unique, but it is incredibly versatile, allowing for a ton of variety of characters and imagery without any of it feeling out of place. Given that the premise of the show is rapidly running through worlds, that was a must. The settings in particular are imaginative, running the gamut between worlds that are more metaphysical to the more grounded.
Each episode moves forward both the narrative and the metaphor of the show, as well as Tulip’s character arc. It’s pretty clear that this was a mini-series from the outset, because by the end of the season, she’s completed her journey both inside and out. If they do continue the series, I hope it’s the journey of another person through the train, rather than having to undo her progress.
The main thing is that the show gives you hints about the many things that you might need to do in order to move through a trauma, whether it be a divorce, a loss, or a similar life event. It doesn’t tell anyone outright or lecture anyone, but it conveys the importance of the steps to recovery through every episode. I really think it would help some kids going through tough times.
Overall, I really recommend this show and I hope it keeps going. If you have 2 hours, it’s available on Amazon for like 10 bucks.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.