Just south of Manhattan, across the East River, is a strange and wonderful land. “A place full of irony, and cynicism.” This borough of New York City is overrun by those who instagram, drink extravagant coffee, and fret over Banksy. These people run Brooklyn, and their essence has finally been captured by creator Matthew Tyler in his fresh, fun, animated webseries, Brooklynians.
The first and most striking thing about Brooklynians (this word is going to be fun to type over and over again) is the unique visual style. The backdrop in each scene is a retro-looking, black and white photograph of the Brooklyn landscape. This is a neat, old-school feel, with a quiet simplicity. In the foreground are our characters, animated in the style of Family Guy (or even Archer) to be more realistic looking than whacky cartoony. The characters feel that way, laid back yet fresh and colorful. It’s quite a swell combination that makes for good viewing. And seriously, how has nobody thought of this before?
But the strength here is in the comedy. The visuals are great and distinct and all, but Brooklynians does a great job of slowly and simply working it’s way into a situation (insulting a hipster’s mustache, homeless man on the subway, zombies) and then exploring the absurdity of the hipster phenomenon, and also enjoying the comedic elements that arise. I really enjoy the comedy. It’s simple. It’s smart. It jumps in when it needs to, and when you least expect it. It feels very natural and unforced, unlike a lot of “set up, punch-line” comedies. The timing and delivery on the jokes are great, and the pacing is just about perfect. The humor reminds me a lot of the kind in Louie, from pacing (slow) to type of delivery (uncertain), and also has the New York setting in common with it as well. The topic of the humor in Brooklynians is almost exclusively centered on the hipster culture (instagram, coffee, irony, etc), but cleverly disguises it to not feel as that is so. That being said, making fun of hipsters is about as easy as peeing on a wall.
And yes, of course the wesberies has its weaknesses. The main character (Dave) is rather passive and meek. He kind of just softly mutters his responses to the other characters, while letting himself be passive and pushed around. It’s not a bad thing, and it’s funny to see him in contrast to all the crazies, but he isn’t dynamic. He doesn’t push things forward. We don’t really go on a ride with him in the story. And there could also be more to the other characters, none of whom come back in future episodes. It’d be funny to see Dave have a hipster rival. It’d also be nice to see more of the hipster’s society. How they interact with each other. How Dave survives this Brooklynian world. And being that this article is flirty friday, there could be romance. There were a few opportunities found with Dave and the ladies, but they felt more like anecdotes. Think of the goldmine that could be tapped from the hipster dating and relationship world.
The series is quite strong, overall. Creator Matthew Tyler seems to have a very firm grip on the creative process. The direction is very strong, writing is solid, and the idea is fully realized. My favourite episode was the Banksy one, with the saving the environment activist one a close second. There is also a wonderful moment involving the main character peeing into a subway car. I won’t say how it happens though. I want to see more.
This weekend is Memorial Day, so when you’re too lazy or ironic to go out of town or to the beach or to leave your computer, give Brooklynians a try. Or just watch it next week, to be ironic.
Check out Brooklynians at www.brooklynians.net
Happy Memorial Day everyone! On this special weekend, we remember all those who came before us and gave their sweat, blood, tears, and lives in the service of our country. God bless America.