"When Tuca & Bertie first premiered on Netflix it felt like a bit like holding a baby chick," says Kayla Cobb. "Most people didn’t fully understand Lisa Hanawalt’s endlessly silly and unapologetically bizarre animated comedy, but the fans and critics who did knew they were witnessing something precious. On Netflix, it felt as though Tuca & Bertie had to be hidden away for its own protection. Now that its home is Adult Swim, there’s a sense it can finally soar. In its second season Tuca & Bertie leans harder into the delicate emotions that made Season 1 so revolutionary while never losing its sense of wide-eyed wonder. The very fact this kindness is being backed by the network known for pioneering animation makes this season feel more rebellious than ever." Cobb adds that "Season 2 continues to challenge traditional animation in another way. Adult animation is typically defined by big, obvious plots and loud, often crass jokes. In its latest installment Tuca & Bertie rejects that mold and continues to play with subtlety. Jokes are still present but they’re less plentiful as the series tackles more interesting questions like why exactly do we use alcohol as a crutch? What does it mean to be lonely but not alone? Why do we focus so much on our own weaknesses when others only see our strengths?"
Tuca & Bertie ushered in a wave of thoughtful, compassionate and much-needed transformation in storytelling of sexual assaults: Season 1's depiction of the aftermath of a sexual assault "was a masterclass in the future of sexual assault storytelling — one in which we don't need triggering, violent assault scenes constructed for the male gaze, and instead center survivors, and explore how this violence has impacted them," says Kylie Cheung. "What started with Tuca & Bertie in 2019 has ushered in a wave of thoughtful, compassionate and much-needed transformation in storytelling of sexual assaults — primarily from more and more women writers and directors, after years of male writers like Dan Weiss and David Benioff of Game of Thrones fame having notoriously subjected audiences to almost countless graphic rape scenes. After all, for lazy, male writers, sexual violence will always be a quick and easy means for 'shock factor,' or the simplest way to make a female character 'grow.' Instead, we can now turn to female creators. From HBO's I May Destroy You to Promising Young Woman, produced by Margot Robbie, we're increasingly witnessing an evolution in the presentation of and dialogue around rape culture in media — starting with the dated idea we need rape scenes at all."
On Adult Swim, Tuca & Bertie has a perceived sense of heightened freedom: "With less pressure to appeal to Netflix’s entire general audiences, Tuca & Bertie can push its boundaries further, stretching its wings (sorry)," says Kristen Reid, adding that "where Tuca & Bertie shines most is in its conversations surrounding mental health. The season two premiere features Bertie on the ever-exhausting quest for a therapist that she feels comfortable with. The rate of her panic attacks is increasing, affecting not just her own life and career, but the lives of her boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yeun) and Tuca, as well. Bertie’s guilt over this and her loved ones’ desire to still be there for her is a moving arc throughout the series. Hanawalt doesn’t shy away from talking about the hardest parts of seeking help for mental health and the assembly line of comically bad therapists Bertie meets is a cheeky reminder that there won’t be any immediate fixes, no matter how hard we will it into being. In addition to its commentary on mental health, Tuca & Bertie also addresses the overwhelming impact sexual harassment and assault can have on us, no matter how hard we try to manage it."
Tuca & Bertie creator Lisa Hanawalt had no problem working on Season 2 via Zoom: "I mean, luckily, I had a while to think about it while we were kind of in limbo waiting for the word," she says. "So we really hit the ground running. I knew what I wanted to say, I knew what I was interested in doing with the characters—in fact, I had too much and couldn’t cram it all into one season, which is always fun. And then our writers’ room is really small and intimate and mostly writers I’d already worked with in person, so it wasn’t too difficult to have a rapport with them."
Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong always wanted to work together: "I mean... we met each other really long ago and we were, as Tiffany says, garbage comedians back then," says Wong. "You can say it, we was at the bottom of the barrel," Haddish agreed. "We didn't wear no expensive clothes. She was on her grunge look thing, emo type thing. I was wearing my little, you know, hoe uniform I call it...trying to be sexy on budget. We weren't the funniest at that time. We was learning, we were growing."
Hanawalt, Haddish and Wong are excited for their new Adult Swim home: “We feel we’re at the right place. Adult Swim is a perfect home for us,” says Haddish. “They like stuff that’s a little weird, and we’re a little weird but we’re grounded in reality and that’s the good stuff.” Hanawalt adds: “Adult Swim was just like, ‘We want that. We’re gonna get it.’ They recognized the value of the show and they’ve just been great creative partners. It’s nice to work with a network that understands animation.”
What gave Haddish and Wong hope that Tuca & Bertie would find a new home?: "We’re amazing—Ali and I are amazing," says Haddish. "You would be a complete idiot not to want to work with both of us, not to have us somewhere. Or: You’re broke; you can’t afford us. And, apparently, Adult Swim could afford us and they’re not dumb. They’re quite intelligent over there at Adult Swim, and they picked us up immediately. You know, we were concerned for a moment—but just a moment—and then we realized we’re amazing (laughs)." Wong adds: "I mean, I wasn’t worried I think mostly because the fans were so—like, immediately the Halloween after the show premiered, there were tons of people dressing up as Tuca & Bertie, and that’s kind of better than an award. That’s a real telltale sign that you’ve got something really special, that means so much to people."