Something strange is happening in the American psyche right now. Just a few years ago, the heroes of New York City-centric comedy TV were disconnected 20-somethings with suspiciously fancy apartments who wandered the earth clueless as to why no one wanted to date their flawless Tinder profile/soulless body. Now, they’re much tinier creatures that we rarely notice IRL and if we do, we’re like gagging and pointing and screaming: “Gawwwwd, I think that rat is bubonic.”
Hot on the hoofs of Louis CK’s The Secret Life of Pets, and HBO’s Animals (which just returned for season two), a new animated feature from Brooklyn-based animation company Cartuna offers a peek at what these city-dwelling creatures see in us humans. Obviously, it ain’t pretty.
Dogs in a Park –starring Michael Ian Black, Jillian Bell, and others– sets itself apart with its hyperlocal focus on the pups of Tompkins Square Park, a place where not too long ago the only dogs you could expect to find were the scruffy crust-punk kind. Thankfully, the characters in this series aren’t anything like the fluffy-headed dum dums of viral dog videos, they’re actually kind of priggish and sarcastic as New Yorker dogs should be. And a few of them, including a pouty pug, have that special East Village glower that only comes with 20 years of battling landlords for a rent-stabilized apartment.
Even if canine saturation gives you anxiety sweats (for this reporter, and probably many more of you brought up in suburbia, it’s more like PTSD flashbacks to getting mauled by a golden retriever), the show is charming for the reason that the dogs seem to be not at all amused by human fawning, and prefer to make fun of their owners, who probably suck anyway. Me personally, I’m at the point of glaring at the mob of French bulldog owners prancing down the street at any given moment, and howling in protest every time someone proudly marches their emotional support animal (i.e. not a service dog) into any establishment other than a dog run. (I spare the dogs, because usually they are covered in their own stool, which is somehow invisible to owners who thought successfully not breaking a Roomba for three months meant they would be good at this.) I’m not ashamed of this behavior one bit– if I’m anywhere near this thing than you know it’s safe to tread.
Check out the trailer for “Dogs in a Park” over here.