If you were, like me, regularly online around the early 2010s, you probably know, love, and have missed Don’t hug me I’m scared.
Co-created by animators Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, the six-episode series went viral on the Internet when it was released on YouTube between 2011 and 2015, with its unique blend of farce based on on puppets and Lynchian shock humor. The cartoon shorts have since garnered over 216 million collective views on YouTube and inspired everything from fan theory construction regarding Serbian war criminals to a small clothing line. Now, more than six years since the last short time, Don’t hug me I’m scared is finally back in the form of a half-hour drama, and it’s like the show never left.
The series revolves around a trio of strange, colorful characters – a tall man in a red shapeshifting suit with beaded eyes on his head and a curly hair named “Red Guy”, a colored yellow with a blue bun in blue overalls called “Yellow Guy” and a talking blue duck in a gray coat called… “Duck”. This eclectic group is reluctant to go on adventures when they just want to sit around their house.
These adventures often revolve around a fourth-wall breaking song sung by an inanimate object, such as a notebook or refrigerator, on a ostensibly educational subject (e.g. : creating, eating healthy, dreaming) before inevitably falling into a psychedelic death spiral of restless bodily and emotional terror. That was a lot of fun. In many ways, Don’t hug me I’m scared can be described as the amnesiac half-brother of Sesame Street and the obvious heir is Wonder Showzenthough less politically charged than the latter and more focused on making a sledgehammer the standard of the children’s educational TV show set forth by the former.
The six-episode reboot, which premiered on Channel 4 in the UK on Monday, follows the same formula of the original YouTube short series but… well, more stuff: more curt dialogue, more silly jokes, more fourth- more wall-breaking and more inexplicable body horror. One might suspect this doubles down on the series’ tricks and hoaxes that would risk reducing profits, but Don’t hug me I’m scared somehow always finds a way to keep subverting expectations, even when expectations themselves are subversions of expectations.
The first episode of Don’t hug me I’m scared The opening is the same as in the original short: with Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck sitting around thinking about their own damn business, but now opens with a hilarious theme song about how there are actually three of them and they all live together. The trio had absolutely nothing to do for the day, much to the surprise of Duck, who simply refused to be busy. Next thing they know, there’s a talking briefcase holding a smaller, non-speaking briefcase, sitting at their dinner table making a fuss about how busy they are and how they have to get it done. his work, before playing a song and montage praising the virtues of work and labor.
You see, you can be anything: a typewriter (e.g. me), a guy kicking a ball and scoring, or a guy flying to the moon in space. Not these people though, no; they had to work at “Peterson and Sons and Friends,” create miscellaneous “bits” and “parts” on the assembly line, answer phones, and build a website that wouldn’t work. Naturally, the episode takes a dramatic turn for the worse, but as any fan of Don’t hug me I’m scared know, joy is the surprise of only What? Squeeze your belly and how.
Like the original short story series, Don’t hug me I’m scared more or less a series of self-contained episodes, each focusing on one form of “lesson” or another, be it about death and dying, the importance of family or simply how to become a better friend. The show is still brutally inventive, covering everything from amorphous clay bodies to psychedelic dream-like sequences. 2001: A Space OdysseyIconic “Stargate” series filtered through “Boschian”DeepDream” generator.
Don’t hug me I’m scared is back, and the series hasn’t missed a beat in its transition from the internet shock comedy genre to the full-fledged animated series. Fans of the series will be thrilled, and newcomers will soon learn how hilarious (and horrifying) life’s most important lessons can be.
Don’t hug me I’m scared airs on Channel 4 in the UK and can be streamed in the UK on All 4.