Let's get this out of the way first: Though animated, Comedy Central's Drawn Together, which makes its debut at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, is absolutely, positively not a show for children.
It's also not recommended viewing for anyone easily offended by profanity, sexuality, or political incorrectness.
Disclaimers done, I'm happy to tout Drawn Together as a hilarious new series, the funniest half-hour show of the fall, a pretentious parody of both reality shows and cliched animated character archetypes.
Eight characters - each from a different animated sub-genre - live in a house Real World-style, complete with diary room confessions to the camera, drunken hot tub grope sessions, and lots of conflict among the housemates.
There's Princess Clara, a Disney-esque fairy tale princess, who's also a bigot; Captain Hero, a '70s-era Saturday morning super hero; Toot Braunstein, a Betty Boop-esque pudgy black-and-white heartthrob; Foxxy Love, an African-American mystery-solving musician; Spanky Ham, a foul-mouthed, crudely drawn Internet cartoon; Ling-Ling, a sociopathic Pikachu-like Asian trading card monster; Wooldoor-Sockbat, a wacky SpongeBob SquarePants-type character, and Xandir, a "totally gay" Internet adventurer.
Clara is the studied image of the Disney heroine with one alteration: She's a little bit racist. When Foxxy enters the house, Clara says, "I'm glad you're finally here. Would you be a dear and fetch my bags, servant girl?" A rumble ensues and Clara is shocked: "I thought those people picked banjos, not fights."
Race remains an issue through the first episode as the clash between Clara and Foxxy divides the house.
"Because of that dumb princess everybody thought Foxxy Love was a loose cannon," Foxxy says in the confessional room. "Foxxy may be loose, but she ain't no cannon."
Ultimately the two women end up making out in the hot tub as they sing a Disney-like love ballad that, save for the sapphic lyrics, could easily be straight out of The Little Mermaid or Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast.
Toot becomes the house bad girl after she fails in wooing the unavailable Xandir. This is only after she cuts herself "to relieve the pain."
Drawn Together was created by longtime friends Matt Silverstein and Dave Jesser, who previously wrote for Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Action, The Man Show, and Crank Yankers.
At a July press conference, the pair said their characters are true to a genre or style, but original enough to keep lawyers at bay.
"It could bring to mind certain characters from certain cartoons," Jesser acknowledged. "As long as the actual design of the character is completely original, we were told we were OK."
Sometimes other characters from other shows will appear in the hot tub or at a party, but their faces will be blurred because, as on real reality shows, "they didn't sign a release," Jesser said.
Among the core cast, "their personalities more closely reflect characters you would see on a reality television show," Silverstein said. "In the genre of a fairy tale princess, she more closely resembles a girl from The Real World who is Mormon, who was sheltered her whole life and didn't know how to act appropriately, and she'd say things that were crazy and racist. She just didn't know any better."
In upcoming episodes, Foxxy and Captain Hero will fall into "an S&M relationship" and Princess Clara needs to find her Prince Charming, which Silverstein said resembles an episode of The Bachelor.
Drawn Together clearly is not a show for all audiences, but for anyone who appreciates spoofs and satire at a crude but clever level, it should be a definite draw.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen is the TV editor for the Post-Gazette.