Fans saved "Tuca & Bertie," the canceled Netflix original that will return to Adult Swim next year.
Fans of anthropomorphic cartoon birds rejoice: Tuca & Bertie is coming to Adult Swim for season two.
Season one of the show, created by BoJack Horseman illustrator Lisa Hanawalt, was a Netflix original that first aired in 2019. Despite being critically acclaimed and widely regarded as one of the best new shows of the year, it was canceled to viewers' dismay.
There's never been a show quite like Tuca & Bertie. Yes, we've had raunchily smart adult cartoons like Big Mouth. And Broad City helped prove that shows about two women could reach a wide audience, but Tuca & Bertie touched on important issues like workplace harassment, mental health, and sexual trauma—not to mention its title characters were voiced by two non-white women, Ali Wong and Tiffany Haddish. Hanawalt created a show that made female viewers feel seen with a nuance that no other show had matched before.
Fans were understandably heartbroken to learn that Tuca & Bertie wouldn't be returning for another season. Viewers began hashtags like #RenewTucaAndBertie and #SaveTucaAndBertie that spread like wildfire, signaling the impact that the show had made. With a wit sharp enough to cut diamonds, Tuca & Bertie created an alternate reality that struck close to home: Tuca grapples with finding a sense of purpose in her otherwise carefree life, while we see Bertie square up against her misogynistic office superiors and deal with debilitating anxiety. In the final episode, Bertie reckons with a traumatizing experience of sexual assault—throughout it all, Bertie's boyfriend Speckle serves as an exemplary supportive partner. Somehow, Hanawalt was able to seamlessly make these goofy humanoid birds feel like extensions of ourselves.
As much as Tuca & Bertie is heartwarming and poignant, it's also hilarious. Much like BoJack Horseman, it's bizarre and over-the-top, with characters that are oftentimes exaggerated and punchlines that land effortlessly. It provided a space for frustrated women to feel seen and understood, while using laughter to heal the general bulls--t of life. Considering Netflix has brought so many niche comedies to the mainstream (BoJack and Big Mouth being leading examples), it's hard to imagine how Tuca & Bertie could've come to fruition without the platform. As Caroline Framke wrote for Variety, "Another reason why the Tuca & Bertie cancellation stings so hard is because 'Tuca & Bertie' could only exist on a platform like Netflix in the first place."
But as the cancellation of Tuca & Bertie proves, Netflix doesn't care about what viewers want. Despite critical acclaim, Tuca & Bertie wasn't renewed for a second season. Deadline reports that Netflix has a 80% renewal rate between season one and two of Netflix Originals, determined by cost vs. viewership. It's gutting that beloved shows like Tuca & Bertie aren't guaranteed to survive while vehemently controversial dramas, like the egregiously fat-phobic Insatiable and the suicide-glamorizing 13 Reasons Why, have been given multiple seasons.
Tuca & Bertie will hopefully see a long life on its new home at Adult Swim, the programming block of Cartoon Network that hosts adult comedies like Rick and Morty and The Eric Andre Show. Despite bringing Netflix's negligence to light, Adult Swim's revival of Tuca & Bertie season two shows the power of fandom. Recently, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was subjected to cancellation by Fox before NBC swiftly picked it up following fan backlash; and long before that, Family Guy was saved by its fans. Maybe, if outlets like Netflix listen more closely to what's best for their viewers, the platform (and television in general) will become a much better place.
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