J.G. Quintel's "Close Enough" Makes It Okay to Be a Broken Adult
Like many men in their thirties, I am a child. I enjoy professional wrestling, immature but socially appropriate memes, and cartoons. One of my favorite cartoons is the series Regular Show created by J.G. Quintel that ran until January 2017.
Regular Show's absurd yet snarky humor appeals to my specific taste in comedy while possessing the sincerity associated with a children's cartoon. But as intellectually charming as Regular Show is, I'm still not Mordecai and Rigby's intended demographic.
During a recent nightly scroll fest of every streaming platform I have, the HBO Max original series Close Enough caught my attention. Hovering over the title for the description, I noticed the animation looked familiar. Close Enough is another J. G. Quintel creation.
I began to hate myself after watching the first episode — not because my investment in a new show from one of my favorite creatives resulted in disappointment, but because I should've discovered it much sooner.
Close Enough is about aspiring video game designer Josh Singleton (voiced by Quintel); his wife, Emily; and his daughter, Candace. They all live with his best friend, Alex (Jason Mantzoukas), and his ex-wife, Bridgette. Each episode is a marriage between neurotic millennial tropes and extraterrestrial and otherworldly misadventures. The first season was released last year on HBO Max. Season 2 premiered on February 25 with the announcement of a third season coming weeks before.
While Regular Show's target audience was pre-teens, Close Enough is geared towards millennials. The quirky, whimsical humor that made Regular Show a hit is still in abundance but contains obscenities and innuendos. The show's crassness better fits the Adult Swim lineup than Cartoon Network's morning-to-late evening programming block.
Binging Close Enough led to many moments of uncontrollable laughter. Even when the show drifted into its unrealistic journeys to parallel universes and fights with monsters, I still relished the snide remarks and dark jokes. But the one theme that stuck out to me was how accurate this animated exaggeration depicted adulthood.
Each millennial character embodies some of the on-going internal and external complications that come with adulthood in today's climate. Despite being hardworking individuals, Josh and Emily are struggling to make ends meet. Raising their daughter while living with their divorced friends makes for a hilarious plot. Unfortunately, it is also a very probable living situation for many people like Josh and Emily who are victims of the brutal economy.
Even Alex and his wife, Bridgette, in all of their dysfunction, represent the seemingly unstable self-absorbed portion of people born after 1981. Bridgette is a 26-year-old social media influencer whose coddled upbringing and detachment from the real world make her a vapid narcissist. Meanwhile, Alex is a community college professor who isn't smart enough to know that living with your ex-wife, your best friend, and his family isn't an ideal living arrangement for a man of academia.
As dramatic as it may sound, watching the show gives me a sense of relief. Quintel takes real-life fears and worries of adulthood and highlights them in such a bizarre fashion that the absurd becomes relatable. The sci-fi/monster-movie vibes in each episode are what the show is mostly about; but you can't overlook the level of humanity the main characters possess, which is brought out by the mundane, like Josh getting in shape to play with Candace and Bridgette coming to grips with her commitment issues.
There are many animated series for adults, but very few speak to the adult experience in the way that Close Enough has. Themes such as declining health after 30, a night without kids, and social media interactions are recurring narratives.
Close Enough is akin to shows like South Park, Rick and Morty, and Big Mouth but has a hidden depth. Beneath the absurdity is the much-needed reminder to 20- and 30 something-year-olds that we're all doing the best we can with what we have — even if you're animated.
Close Enough is now streaming exclusively on HBO Max.