Tuca & Bertie is Netflix’s new animated comedy, centering around the lives of the titular best friends, two lady bird best-friends navigating life, friendship, love and career in the big city of a man bird’s world. All at once, the show is surreal and hilarious – full of random, quirky characters and hijinx galore – as well as a lot of heart and depth. In the world of the show, animals can talk and rent apartments, there are birds and dogs and turtles. There’s even a super cool botanical neighbor, whose plant-head takes the absurdity of this world to the max. Not just a brand comedy, Tuca & Bertie also tackles the intricacies of female friendship, sexual harassment, and self-worth.
If any of this sounds familiar it’s because this show has a lot of similarities with another Netflix property. Bojack Horseman is another animated comedy, populated by both humans and talking animals, and over the course of its five seasons has proven not only to be a hilarious absurdist comedy but also an in-depth exploration of mental well being among numerous other adult discourses and themes. It’s no surprise that these two shows would be compared. The animation and indeed the character and production design are both the work of illustrator and producer Lisa Hanawalt. Whereas her designs gave life to the characters and world of BoJack, Tuca & Bertie is entirely her creation, from the design to the story. Comparison between the two animated comedies is inevitable. Below is a look at some of the things Tuca & Bertie does better than Bojack and some things it does worse.
10 BETTER: SURREAL RANDOMNESS
This is a tough one as both shows have plenty of random jokes and characters. LoJack has a multi-episode emotional ark for a character that’s actually three kids in a trench coat, while T&B has a grandma baked into a cake.
However, BoJack feels much more grounded in some kind of real world, with rules and boundaries as to how far the random bar can be pushed. T&B, on the other hand, feels like it could literally go anywhere, maybe on the back of a turtle even.
9 WORSE: BLEND OF COMEDY AND DRAMA
BoJack has been lauded by fans and critics alike for its ability to marry the absurd and comedic with some incredibly deep and thought-provoking dramatic moments. This show is a powerhouse of writing and genre blending.
And while T&B also has a mix of comedy and more serious fare, the outlandish world that they live in makes the transition between genres slightly more jarring.
8 BETTER: FEMALE FRIENDSHIP
Perhaps the biggest selling point of T&B is its focus on two female lead characters, centering on them and positioning their friendship as the central relationship of the series. That’s not to say BoJack doesn’t have a decent representation of female characters. However, one thing lacking perhaps in BoJack are true connections between the female characters.
All of the female characters in BoJack are brought into the story by their relationship to Bojack, whereas Tuca and Bertie are both the driving narrative force and fierce friends. This show reinforces the importance of depicting women’s relationships with each other.
7 WORSE: WORLD BUILDING
The world of BoJack is fully fleshed out and despite the anthropomorphic creatures and some more out-there elements, it’s a believable world with rules and boundaries. This is exemplified by the “Hollywoo” sign which, since having its ‘D’ stolen, has remained that way and even altered the way the characters pronounce the name of their town.
The world of T&B on the other hand feels more malleable. That’s not to say it’s not believable or enjoyable. It’s just less tied to reality and to maintaining its connection to a world resembling ours.
6 BETTER: RELATABILITY
The characters in T&B are instantly recognizable and relatable. These are two women who are struggling in everyday jobs, with everyday problems like money, careers, and relationships who are making it work.
The characters in BoJack, on the other hand, are slightly more removed. We’re not all former sitcom stars of the nineties or talents agents after all. Audiences will be able to watch Tuca and Bertie and see a little something of themselves. Unless you’re Tim Allen maybe.
5 WORSE: ANIMATION
While both shows share a designer in Lisa Hanawalt, their styles of animation are subtly different. T&B has a more rough-and-tumble approach to its animation, with less shading and computer animation, opting for a more hand-drawn effect.
BoJack conversely has a more polished finished with some 3D animation and consistent character work. They both work from an artistic standpoint, especially considering their worlds and the characters they’re portraying, but simply from a technical standpoint, BoJack‘s animation is the more current and resolves of the two.
4 BETTER: QUEER REPRESENTATION
BoJack has struggled somewhat with its representation of LGBTQ+ people or indeed presenting a viewpoint other than that of its hetero-normative characters. Perhaps the only major character with a less traditional standpoint is Todd, although his discovery of his asexual nature came late in the show’s run.
Alternatively, T&B has kicked off with a variety of viewpoints, Tuca herself being clearly bisexual/pretty much up for anything as long as she’s into the person, or bird, or monkey, making the show the more representative of the two from the get-go.
3 WORSE: CHARACTER DEPTH
Only in its first season, T&B has time to delve much deeper into its characters’ psyches. Yet, BoJack has always been exemplary of plunging into the depth of its character’s subconsciouses and mining them for stories.
It seems the characters in BoJack are constantly re-evaluating their own motivations and dealing with their trauma. While T&B is just getting going and has already given us some great back story and reasoning as to its characters motivations, its problems seem a little more surface level than those explored in BoJack.
2 BETTER: OPTIMISM
BoJack for all its great dramatic moments and depth has the potential to leave viewers feeling somewhat depressed. T&B has a much more optimistic outlook, when everything seems at its complete worst there is a sense that things will come good again.
This sense of optimism is highly tied to the central friendship between Tuca and Bertie and viewers can feel safe that this friendship isn’t going away anytime soon.
1 WORSE: VARIETY OF VOICES
Finally, while T&B is potentially more reliable, it’s still only presenting a very narrow experience. Showing us a glimpse into these two women’s lives when they’re in similar stages of development and a similar place in their lives. BoJack, on the other hand, has a larger ensemble cast and present different people a number of different stages in their lives.
Bojack is wealthy and used to the spotlight, whereas Diane is struggling financially and in her relationships, Princess Caroline wants to be a mother and have a career and Todd’s adventures range from the mundane to the bizarre. This variety of voices is what makes BoJack so watchable and the desire for more voices in this animalistic landscape is what makes Tuca and Bertie a welcome addition to Netflix’s animated canon.
NEXT: What To Expect From Tuca & Bertie Season 2