Animated comedies are a dime a dozen lately, and it’s easy to see why they can often be very long-lived. The Simpsons for example has been on the air since 1989, and to date has amassed a whopping 32 seasons. Family Guy just celebrated 19 seasons, and Bob’s Burgers has reached 11 seasons with a recent Variety article stating that its average viewership per episode hits approximately 10.9 million views across all platforms. With that kind of data to support it, it’s no wonder that Apple TV+ decided to launch their own hit animated comedy with a twist, it’s also a musical comedy. So welcome to Central Park Season 2.
Central Park is all about the daily lives of the Tillerman family, with Owen Tillerman (Leslie Odom Jr.), Paige Hunter, Owen’s wife and struggling reporter, (Kathryn Hahn), daughter Molly (previously played by Kristen Bell, but now played by Emmy Raver-Lampman), and son Cole (Tituss Burgess). The show is guided and narrated by Birdie, played by Josh Gad, while also featuring the antagonist and hotel heiress Bitsy Brandenham (Stanley Tucci) as she vows to replace the park with more New York real estate with begrudging help from her personal assistant Helen (Daveed Diggs). The show was created by Josh Gad, Nora Smith, and Loren Bouchard. The latter is the co-creator of Bob’s Burgers, which is where the animation style of Central Park inspired from.
I can honestly say I wasn’t prepared for my first viewing of this show and its utter comedic absurdity. Fans of Bob’s Burgers will really feel that sense of familiarity, while also appreciating the show’s ability to capture a fresh story. There are ultimately some similarities with a few of the characters, but as you dive further into the series you can see that while the shows share the same animation style, they are very different.
Season 2 does fall a little short in terms of the quality standard that was set in season 1; however, it has done enough to earn the praise of the Apple executives with an early renewal of the show for season 3. The debut season was a solid 8 on the rating scale, and all 10 episodes had me hooked, booked, and ready for more. The follow-up season on the other hand, finds a few of the episodes failing to really hit the mark with either an interesting weekly plot or a great comedic hook.
That being said, Central Park season 2 still has some remarkable episodes, and the debut episode absolutely makes that list. Titled “Central Dark,” the Tillerman’s experience a famous New York blackout and decide to pass the time with a good old-fashioned board game as hilarity ensues. That’s not even the best part. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Bitsy and Helen are heading to a hotel convention where Bitsy is the keynote speaker. Once the power goes out, the many hotel owners decide to abandon the rule of law and steal Bitsy’s secret plans, forcing the pair to make a run for it in this Warriors-inspired story.
My attachment to this show is deeply rooted in the character performances, starting with the Tillerman family as led by Odom Jr. I was genuinely surprised at his level of comedic delivery as Owen—the often frazzled, and very nerdy head of the park. Additionally, Tucci and Diggs as Bitsy and Helen are hilarious and you won’t be able to get enough of them. The two seasoned actors play off each other so well and really lose themselves in their roles. The musical numbers and performances are exceptional. The songs are incredibly catchy and executed at such a high level that you have to remind yourself you’re watching an animated comedy.
One memorable cast switch this season was in the role of Molly who was previously played by Bell, but is now played by Raver-Lampman, and honestly, this was needed. Molly is a bi-racial character, and being played by a white woman just never sat well with me, even though Bell gave a great performance. The representation of having a Black woman, play the part of a Black girl allows Raver-Lampman to add a level of authenticity that Bell simply can’t.
Overall, I would absolutely urge everyone to go check out Central Park, as it’s a brilliant series. The fusion of the animation style from Bob’s Burgers combined with the fast, punchy comedy writing and mixed with the mind-blowing musical talents of these accomplished performers has created a tremendously entertaining show. While Season 2 does falter in a few of its episodes, the character portrayals from Leslie Odom Jr., Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs, Kathryn Hahn and so many more results in this show being worth the price of admission.
Central Park Season 2 is available exclusively on Apple TV+ Friday June 25, 2021.
Central Park Season 2
- Rating - 7/107/10
While Season 2 does falter in a few of its episodes, the character portrayals from Leslie Odom Jr., Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs, Kathryn Hahn and so many more results in this show being worth the price of admission.