by Nick L’Barrow
From creator of Cartoon Network’s cult hit Regular Show, JG Quintel, Close Enough is an absurd yet oddly down-to-earth look at the life of a couple heading into their late-thirties who are coming to their own terms with the fact that they’re “getting old”.
Comparatively with Quintel’s previous work on Regular Show, HBO Max’s latest animated series unabashedly explores more adult centric themes while still treading that fine line of chaotic humour that we’ve seen in shows like Family Guy or Rick and Morty. Each episode of Close Enough follows the traditional Cartoon Network formula of two 11-minute stories included in one 22-minute sitting, and only coming in at 8 episodes in this first outing, this is a rapid fire and easily binge-able good time.
Josh (Quintel) and Emily (Gabrielle Walsh) live with their young daughter Candice and their recently divorced best friends, Alex (Jason Mantzoukas) and Bridgette (Kimiko Glenn) in a suburban Los Angeles apartment. As everyone attempts to navigate their day-to-day lives, the shows diverse group of characters allows the opportunity to witness many different facets of “adulthood” and the struggles that comes from transitioning from the youthful ignorance of the 20s to the reality of being 30.
Josh is a dorky video game developer who’s trying to live through his daughter’s own youth. Emily balances being the voice of reason mother to her child (and arguably her child-minded husband) and living her dream of being a comedy-songwriter. Bridgette, an aspiring social media influencer, and Alex, a community college professor and Viking enthusiast, amicably still live together, but often act as the ‘devil-on-the-shoulder’ influence for Josh and Emily. The voice cast is incredibly suited to each character’s different dynamic and their rapid comedic timing is an immensely enjoyable element of the show.
Whether it’s feeling too old to go to a nightclub, wanting to be a part of the ‘cool mums’ group at school or convincing their daughter they know everything when they don’t – there isn’t an issue of transitioning into “real adulthood” that is left unexplored. The relatability of each episode’s scenarios adds to a lot of the shows humour. Even when the family are battling evil homework robots, going to war with Christmas-ham stealing gangsters or using a giant snail’s magic hat to speed up time, most of the show’s laughs come from the self-reflective moments that will often make you giggle, then go: “Oh wait, I do that”.
Each absurd scene or premise acts as a strange comparative measure for the moments that are more heartfelt or realistic. Close Enough isn’t afraid to be a commentary on how sometimes society can focus on the most ridiculous aspects of existence, and let those aspect define who we are. When Josh gets the chance to show his daughter Candice how to skateboard (ultimately dubbing himself ‘Skate Dad’), it leads to a skate battle with a younger, better skateboarder who has been approached by Emily to give Candice lessons. It takes a gruesome injury and a metal plate surgically inserted into his crotch (absurd premise) to realise that it’s okay he can’t always teach Candice everything, as long as he supports the things she loves (heartfelt moment). The entire season is littered with these comparisons for all characters. It’s always entertaining and incredibly self-aware without being too on the nose.
Close Enough is insane and insanely fun. Each episode and joke have been carefully constructed to have more meaning than just being a throwaway bit, which in turn makes investing a solid 3 hours into binging the whole series entirely worthwhile.