What We Hope to See in Season 2
What We Hope to See in Season 2
After a stealth pilot during Adult Swim’s annual April Fools’ prank, an unannounced marathon of the entire first season in one night, and a one-off Brazil-themed special, it’s safe to say that Smiling Friends has become Adult Swim’s latest smash hit. Critics and audiences can’t help but love the ongoing adventures of Charlie and Pim, employees of the “Smiling Friends” company tasked with one simple goal — to make their clients smile.
Featuring two extremes of comedy — one being as dry as burnt toast, the other bouncing off the walls in absurd fashion — the show has captured the essence of what makes internet-influenced humor work in digestible 11-minute chunks. With all this success, it’s no wonder Adult Swim decided to renew the show for a second season.
Newgrounds alumni Zach Hadel and Michael Cusack lead the show’s production, with the latter of the two producing the Adult Swim projects YOLO: Crystal Fantasy and Bushworld Adventures. The two have been nothing but transparent about their creative process ever since the release of the series, speaking publicly on several podcasts as well as making a panel appearance during the recent Adult Swim Fest. This openness, combined with previous knowledge of how the duo operates together and independent of each other, can give us an idea of what to expect from season two.
More of the Supporting Cast
Having a short run-time with a limited amount of episodes presents several interesting challenges in the writer’s room. While Charlie and Pim have received plenty of screen time to flesh out their personalities, other characters in the cast haven’t gotten nearly as much attention. This primarily affects the other two employees at the Smiling Friends office, Alan and Glep.
Alan and Glep have received minor roles in season one — the former inadvertently resolving the conflict in the show’s pilot and the latter playing a minor role in episode two, “Mr. Frog.” However, these two characters really don’t have much else to do outside these two instances. Their appearances are relegated to cold opens, background appearances, or quick gags. We know next to nothing about Alan and Glep’s personalities because of this. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a comedy show, it’d be nice to see them tackle a client by themselves or, at the very least, become the focus of an episode or two.
More Guests, Expected and Unexpected
Smiling Friends, despite still being in its infancy, featured a number of high-profile guests for its first season. Notably, the series secured the late Gilbert Gottfried for his last television role, playing none other than God himself during the season one finale, Charlie Dies and Doesn’t Come Back. Other celebrity guests include Nick and Finn Wolfhard, who make brief appearances in the show’s pilot, as well as Jane Badler from NBC’s V series, who appears for a live-action role in the episode “Mr. Frog.” It’s one of the most eclectic bunches of talent compiled for a single project in recent memory, meaning there’s really no telling who else might show up to contribute to the cast.
Justin Roiland is a noteworthy candidate. He has worked with Hadel for Seth Rogen’s Hilarity for Charity event in 2018, in addition to creating the source material that Cusack’s Bushworld Adventures delightfully parodies. Jonathan Jafari and Michael Stevens, known for their internet shows JonTron and Vsauce, respectively, could also appear to contribute their voices. This is largely based on their guest roles on Hadel’s podcast, Schmucks.
Frequent collaborators from Hadel and Cusack’s previous online work have also made appearances both on the production crew and as voice actors, including Chris O’Neill, Harry Partridge, and other internet animators. It wouldn’t be a shock to see them return in some capacity for season two, either to voice minor roles or continue providing production assistance.
More Variety in Animation
What surprised many viewers during their initial viewing of Smiling Friends was just how often the show incorporated different animation styles. In just nine episodes, the show incorporates the use of traditional 2D animation, 3D models, stop-motion clay figures, rotoscoping, and live-action performances to create a memorable series of sight-gags and character expressions. There’s really no set rule for what to expect from the show’s animation style. Every episode has something unique to see, taking full advantage of animation as a visual medium. This will assuredly continue into the next season.
The show was even brave enough to break away from its own comedic formula in the form of episode four, “A Silly Halloween Special.” Most of the episode is an unsettling horror short played completely straight, accompanied by a darker color palette, more detailed movements, and a genuine sense of panic and urgency. The dramatic shift in tone being handled so well sets the stage for what else Hadel and Cusack could explore beyond the comedic setup they’ve established so far.
There’s really no telling what the future has in store for Smiling Friends. If season one is anything to go by, however, fans are guaranteed a smile from the bizarre antics that Hadel and Cusack have conjured up.