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Futurama season 11 review: The show is resurrected (again) as pure comfort TV

Hulu's revival is not here to challenge or surprise—and that's just fine by us

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Image: Matt Groening/Hulu

Earlier this month, Hulu announced its plan to launch a new hub for anime and adult-oriented cartoon shows called “Animayhem,” with Variety noting that shows like American Dad!, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers “consistently rank among the service’s top 10 shows based on hours streamed.” That means people aren’t just watching these shows, they’re watching them a lot, and Hulu’s Futurama revival, which premieres July 24, seems like an explicit attempt to cash in on that—but in a way that is at least a little more creatively fulfilling than that might sound.

It almost seems irrelevant to say whether or not Hulu’s new episodes of Futurama are good, though yes they are mostly good, because what matters the most is that they exist and they most likely won’t offend you when they inevitably come up the next time you do a full-series rewatch (the way that, say, a season four episode of Arrested Development might).


These episodes feel like Futurama, though some of the voice actors sound a little older (and maybe a little underpaid) and there are some weird visual hiccups (early on, these new episodes insist on showing characters in full two-dimensional profile every once in a while, and it looks insane), but anyone looking to return to a comfort show will have no problem cozying up with this latest revival.


But just how Futurama is this? Well, the premiere episode is a whole meta thing about reboots and the basic concept of watching a show for a long time, even as it gets canceled and revived over and over again (a very Futurama premise). Later installments bring back some established Futurama lore and reintroduce characters almost exclusively so fans—and the characters—can say, “Oh hey, I remember these brain worms.” And, perhaps best of all, the show does not really undo or walk back the emotional payoff earned by the last apparent series finale, where Fry and Leela lived together forever in a world that had been accidentally frozen in time.

This is a show that has already settled into what it does best and recognizes what its fans want from it, which is to say meta-gags making fun of itself and other cartoon shows, nerdy sci-fi references (there’s a whole Dune thing this time around), and satirical takedowns of modern technology (which, naturally, hasn’t changed much in the year 3023). The stuff they’re satirizing can sometimes feel a little dated or obvious (watch out, Alexa), but Futurama was never all that biting in the first place. Nobody really wants or needs Bender to say something insightful about being unable to escape the stranglehold that Amazon has on our lives. You want to hear him talk about his shiny, metal ass.

And that’s okay! It’s as good as ever. Or at least as good as it was during the last revival, which was occasionally … less good than ever, but it’s better than the mostly stinky Futurama movies. Really, every nice thing you could say about Hulu’s revived Futurama sounds like damning with faint praise, but that’s only because it’s hard to do that in a nice way.

Futurama | Official Trailer | New Season July 24 | Hulu

The show originally premiered in 1999, which might as well really be 1,000 years ago, and it was canceled for the first time two decades ago. It was nixed for the second time one decade ago. It’s been around a long time, just not consistently, and it’s rare to feel anything from a show like that greater than reassuring familiarity ... but in a way that’s still cool and usually funny!


If there’s any major issue here, it may be that the show has become too comforting, that it’s settled into its groove too well. This is a show that many people have been watching, off and on, for more than 20 years, and it feels like it. There may not be enough here for you if you prefer to watch TV by settling in, putting away your phone, and really focusing on the screen. It’s not a laugh-a-minute madhouse with such intricately structured humor that you won’t want to miss a thing, but it’s dependable. It has all your friends: Fry, Leela, Hermes, the Professor, Bender, Amy, Kif, Nibbler, Zapp, Scruffy ... they’re all here.

If you want more Futurama, then that’s exactly what this is. One hundred percent. You won’t walk away from this revival thinking anything else. And, as dismissive as it may sound, that actually might be enough. If you want something new or different, there are other animated sci-fi comedies that could offer you that. If you want Futurama, this is Futurama.


Futurama season 11 premieres July 24 on Hulu

Stream it now: Hulu