"Inside Job continues an odd trend among Netflix animated comedies of starting with characters and situations in the most abrasive place possible and then attempting to evolve to someplace more affectionate and grounded by midseason," says Daniel Fienberg. "It was a tactic that didn’t work at all on Hoops and never found consistency Chicago Party Aunt; I’m not going to try explaining for the fiftieth time why F is for Family remains the difficult-to-achieve model for this sort of Netflix series. Of course, there are general questions about what the Netflix animation department has learned from any of its successes or failures. This can be illustrated no more plainly than nobody considering whether or not having Caplan voice a character who is textually biracial was a good idea after the final season of BoJack Horseman discussed such things in very frank terms."
Inside Job gets in its own way: "In practice, it takes a lot of cues from American Dad!, BoJack Horseman, Rick and Morty, Venture Bros., Archer, and even Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," says Kevin Johnson. "These comparisons point to the series’ central struggle—a lot of its themes and character development choices are meaningful and relatable, but also a bit played out. Reagan is a ball of neuroses and trauma, and Inside Job approaches its lead character in much the same way its high-concept predecessors have."
Inside Job has been made with a specific target audience in mind: thirty-to-fortysomethings who spend a lot of time on Twitter: Those people "will therefore get jokes about Joe Rogan, Jordan Peterson and flat-earthers (including a predictable, and not-so-subtle, dig at Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving)," says Nick Schager. He adds: "On Facebook, Instagram, and various other online platforms, fake news is chipping away at the very fabric of American democracy—so it was high time such insanity was ridiculed in merciless animated fashion. Inside Job goes some way toward achieving that end, affording an intimate peek at Cognito Inc., a secret organization that covers up the fact that every conspiracy theory is real, and that the country—and world—is run by a shadow board of robed elites consumed with acquiring profit and power. Created by Shion Takeuchi and executive produced by fellow Gravity Falls alum Alex Hirsch, it’s a workplace comedy that jovially mocks our brain-fried reality—even if, ultimately, it stops just shy of truly miring itself in today’s muck. Which is to say, Inside Job doesn’t touch upon the Big Lie and anti-vax nonsense currently addling the minds of so many Americans. It does, however, takes great pleasure in pretending that our myths and fantasies—about Bigfoot, the moon landing, Yale secret societies, and more—are less fictional than we assumed. Over the course of its 10-episode first season (Oct. 22), it provides a loopy and humorous tour of our national derangement via the story of Reagan (Lizzy Caplan), Cognito Inc.’s resident genius and a woman whose intellectual prowess is matched only by her evil inclinations—conquering the planet is often high on her list of priorities—and, consequently, her desire to ascend the corporate ladder."
Inside Job's worst episodes try to follow the South Park format of playing both sides: The show tries "to make fun of Flat Earthers while adding fuel to your uncle's Facebook rants and Q Anon-type conspiracies about the elite being part of a blood-obsessed cult," says Rafael Motomayor. "It's not that every cartoon needs to address current events and concerns, but it feels off to see a show simultaneously mock the alt-right for being gullible idiots while maybe arguing that they’re onto something. It doesn't help that Inside Job is constantly firing up pop-culture references at lightning speed, seemingly just to wink and nod at the audience rather than to serve the tone of the story."
Inside Job creator Shion Takeuchi on why she wanted to tackle conspiracy theories: "You know, I started developing this series before QAnon became such a cultural force, so to speak," says Takeuchi. "But obviously something was in the air at the time, because people reacted to this unseen force and here we are. Over the course of making the show, absolutely. I use comedy to process difficult emotions, and with the world the way that it’s been, it’s certainly a way to explore these kinds of topics and the ridiculousness of them for me, to kind of poke through and feel like it’s all going to be okay."
Takeuchi's interest in conspiracies was sparked by listening to the late-night AM radio show Coast to Coast AM: It was the first time she’d heard of the so-called “shadow government,” which initially scared her — but after thinking about it a little bit, she realized that even if a shadow government did exist, actual humans would have to run it. “That just disproves the idea of the shadow government because if there was one it would be barely controlling anything, just out of pure luck and chance,” she says. “Most people who work there would be mostly absorbed with their petty, trivial personal lives and just barely getting this job done.”