Squidbillies

Squidbillies airs at 11:45 p.m. ET on Cartoon Network.

They said an animated series about a family of backwoods anthropomorphic cephalopods would never last, but Squidbillies kicked off its sixth season last Sunday night, proving all the doubters wrong. At least, I assume there were doubters.  Then again, considering that the show’s target audience appears to be stoned college students taking a break between rounds of Modern Warfare 3, maybe no one is really surprised Squidbillies has lasted longer than Twin Peaks and Arrested Development combined. Let’s face it, when you’re too high to operate the Xbox controls, sophisticated, nuanced entertainment is off the table. You need something that’s going to make you laugh until you puke, or puke until you laugh, or otherwise complete your weekend-long transformation from a productive member of society to a completely useless globule of laughs and pukes.

As someone who graduated from that demographic sometime prior to the dawn of Squidbilles and the whole Adult Swim consortium, I must confess that my recent viewing of this season’s first three episodes represented my first exposure to the Cuyler clan. (It’s especially embarrassing for a scholar of hillbilly-related entertainment to have to admit this.) Judging from those episodes, however, I didn’t get the impression that I’d missed out on any complex backstory or ongoing labyrinthine mythology. I’m sure there are some references I missed here or there, but generally speaking, it seems like Squidbillies is a show you can jump aboard at anytime without worrying too much about what you might have missed. The question is: Should you?

Well, you don’t have to be completely baked to enjoy Squidbillies, but a strong tolerance for the absurdly grotesque is a definite requirement. Take last week’s season premiere, “Asbestos I Can,” for example. The title comes from Early’s new trucker cap, which sports the legend “I’m Did Asbestos Can,” a bad translation of an even worse pun. Since the cap is made of actual asbestos, Early has sprouted a half-dozen hideous tumors on his head, yet he stubbornly refuses to stop wearing the deadly headwear.  His terminal condition prompts his loyal friend the Sheriff to grant any wish that crosses Early’s mind, from doing donuts in his police cruiser to recording an auto-tuned duet with T-Pain (that’s pronounced “TA-pain,” you know) to requesting sexual favors from a neighbor’s wife.

Now, maybe you find the prospect of a redneck squid asking a human woman to “wrap your fine-ass mouth aroundst mah toes” kind of repulsive, but at least it’s creative. If you don’t laugh at that, you’re probably not going to have much use for tonight’s episode, “Class of ‘86,” in which Early’s old schoolmates attempt to hold their 25th reunion without him. They have a legitimate reason for not inviting him, in that Early never made it out of the second grade. (“I am not gonna have no damn cursive shoved down my throat by the gubmint. It’s a dead language!”) Despite the best efforts of the townspeople (and townsquids), however, Early finds his way to the reunion, where he makes out with his morbidly obese ex Krystal and causes general drunken mayhem.

Next week’s episode, in which Early’s boy Rusty finds himself a girlfriend, is probably the weakest of the three made available for preview, although it does offer the unsavory prospect of Early trying to woo his son’s gal away from him, as well as a twisted variation on an ancient hillbilly stereotype for a punchline. (That’s another thing about Squidbillies; it pushes its redneck clichés so gleefully over-the-top, only the most humorless scold could take offense.) Still, I laughed often enough to make it worth the fifteen minutes of my time, and that’s really all you can ask from a show like this. You’re certainly not going to admire the painstakingly rendered animation (which looks like the stuff I used to scribble in the margins of my algebra book) or the layered characterizations or the intricate Swiss-watch plotting. Squidbillies just wants to make you lose your shit over a squid with a shotgun who wants to be buried in a coffin that’s both a bass guitar and a bourbon bottle. On that level, it mostly succeeds...although a few bong hits couldn’t hurt.

Stray observations:

  • It’s not that Squidbillies has no redeeming social value at all. “Class of ‘86” features a touching “It Gets Better” message, assuming shooting your former tormentor in the head makes everything better.
  • Early offering Rusty some transportation for his date: “Take the lawnmower. No, the push!”
  • “Remember, sex occurs in the butt.”
  • “When are you gonna make me a great-grand-MILF?”

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