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Mooney is Millenial Michelangelo in 'S.M.A.S.H'

Kyle Mooney's Saturday Morning All-Star Hits (S.M.A.S.H.) made me nostalgic for an era of TV that I didn't even experience. Growing up, all my favorite cartoons were on-demand and at my fingertips. I never woke up early to catch the Saturday morning cartoons. Mooney’s sentimentality for his childhood cartoons manifested into his new Netflix series, composed of eight binge-able twenty-minute episodes, thus making a win-win situation that appeals to both generations of cartoon enthusiasts. It's a memorable and goofy marvel of a show, and I am here for it.

S.M.A.S.H. is an eccentric and affectionate tribute to classic 80s and 90s weekend animation. The show is hosted by twin goofballs Skip and Treybor (both played by Kyle Mooney). It combines cartoons, live-action sketches, news clips, “hot gossip,” and advertisements into an MTV-style kaleidoscope of content for each episode. S.M.A.S.H. resembles a collection of feel-good children's cartoons. Behind the colorful, flashy facade, the characters struggle with heavy topics like addiction, depression, identity, and purpose.

Standing out from the other cartoons is Randy! inspired by Denver, the Last Dinosaur. Randy (Kyle Mooney) is a dinosaur and is beloved by everyone. But deep down, he is depressed. Randy gets into music college with the hopes of becoming a big star but instead becomes discouraged by the competitive atmosphere. Simultaneously, he goes through a messy breakup with his girlfriend Heather (Emma Stone) and develops a drinking problem. He even goes as far as to say that he wishes he was "extinct." Randy! is one of the heavier segments in S.M.A.S.H. It represents how depression affects people, in Randy's case, dinosaurs. The fuzzy aesthetic is comforting and ironic with the severity of Randy’s problems. It doesn’t end with the satisfying closure most cartoons have. In fact, Randy! is left on a cliffhanger and its time slot is replaced with The Strongimals, a ThunderCats spin-off halfway through the season.

A more light-hearted cartoon is Create-a-Crittles, inspired by the Care Bears. Create-a-Crittles is about David (Paul Rudd), a man plagued by corporate normalcy. Tasked to create the company's new logo, he struggles to bring out his inner creativity. The crittles, a group of colorful, crafty bears, assist David in making the logo. Corporate believes that the crittles are a great asset to the team, and they begin working for the company alongside David until eventually quitting to pursue other projects. The crittles often make satirical remarks about the Care Bears and mock their playful stupidity, especially Pasto. Even David and his corporate boss play along with the joke.

Between the various cartoons, there are retro ads for unnecessary items, trailers for upcoming movies and ludicrous celebrity gossip. S.M.A.S.H. even has its own celebrity heartthrob, “Johnny Rash'' (Kyle Mooney). Meanwhile, the hosts, Skip and Treybor develop a sibling rivalry when Skip gets more famous after having a cameo in an episode of The Strongimals. The rivalry between the two blonde Kyle Mooneys is one of the more compelling subplots of the show. Their interactions and arguments are layered in irony and do a great job showcasing Mooney's unique brand of sketch comedy. Included in that is the show’s obsession with sub sandwiches. Almost every sketch has a sub-related joke, a close-up of sandwiches, or Skip saying his iconic catchphrase “uh, subs?”

With his devoted fanbase, Kyle Mooney is more than deserving of his own Netflix show dedicated to his style of comedy. But S.M.A.S.H. reminds me more of an eight-episode Saturday Night Live sketch than its own distinct show. After all, both shows are produced by Lorne Michaels and include similar casts. The influences of his frequent collaborators sometimes steal the show. Kyle Mooney found a new opportunity in S.M.A.S.H., but he should look to utilize his talents for more original material rather than spin off what SNL (or Mooney himself) has already made. It is uncertain whether the show will be renewed for a second season, but, personally, I hope it does. Kyle Mooney is an imaginative voice in comedy and he deserves a platform to showcase his talents other than SNL.




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