Tuca & Bertie

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Tuca & Bertie
Tuca & Bertie Title Card.jpg
Genre
Created byLisa Hanawalt
Based onTuca the Toucan
by Lisa Hanawalt
Voices of
Theme music composerJesse Novak
Composer(s)Jesse Novak
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
Running time25–26 minutes
Production company(s)
Release
Original networkNetflix (season 1)
Picture formatHDTV 1080p
Audio formatStereo
Original releaseMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03) –
present (present)
External links
Official website

Tuca & Bertie is an American adult animated sitcom created by cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt that began streaming on May 3, 2019 on Netflix.[1] It stars Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong, with a supporting cast including Steven Yeun, John Early, Richard E. Grant, and Reggie Watts.[2] The show received critical acclaim,[3][4] and was cited as of the best shows of 2019 by several publications.[5][6] The series cancellation was originally announced in July 2019, after just one season,[7] but in May 2020, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim announced they ordered a second season of the series, which is slated to premiere in 2021.[8]

Premise[edit]

Tuca & Bertie follows "the friendship between two 30-year-old bird-women who live in the same apartment building, Tuca, a cocky, care-free toucan, and Bertie, an anxious, daydreaming songbird."[9]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Tiffany Haddish as Tuca, a toucan, Bertie's impulsive and newly sober best friend, who works odd jobs, and frequently relies on her rich Aunt Tallulah for financial support.
  • Ali Wong as Bertie, a songbird, Tuca's career-minded best friend, a senior operations analyst (previously a data processor) at Conde Nest, and aspiring baker.
  • Steven Yeun as Speckle, a robin, Bertie's straight-laced architect boyfriend.

Recurring[edit]

  • Nicole Byer as various voices including Speckle's grandmother Gamby the ghost cake; Bertie's file cabinet; lady in the bathroom at Bertie's office.
  • Richard E. Grant as Holland, Bertie's well-meaning but oblivious blue jay boss at Conde Nest.
  • John Early as Dirk, Bertie's misogynistic rooster co-worker at Conde Nest.
  • Reggie Watts as Pastry Pete, an accomplished penguin pastry chef that takes Bertie as an apprentice.
  • Shamir Bailey as "Draca", a house plant neighbor.
  • Jenifer Lewis as Aunt Tallulah Toucan, Tuca's rich aunt who has been supporting her financially.
  • Kate Berlant as the "Women Taking Up Space" Lady, a lizard.

Guest stars[edit]

  • Awkwafina as Bertie's breast.
  • Tig Notaro as Yeast Week MC and Dr. Sherman, a flamingo physician.
  • Michelle Dockery as Lady Netherfield, the star of Bertie's favorite TV show "The Nests of Netherfield"
  • Adam Conover as Big_Hairy_Stallion69 (aka Joel), a horse Tuca meets online in a virtual sex chat.
  • SungWon Cho as Ultra-Sam S380, a hospital machine.
  • Amber Ruffin as Dakota with a Y, a naive, young canary who comes to work for Pastry Pete
  • Laverne Cox as Ebony Black, a raven agent who works for the Center for Sex Bug Control, and Judge Sparrow, Judge Judy-esque TV personality whose show Tuca is a fan of.
  • Tessa Thompson as Sophie Black, Ebony's adult daughter who has come to work for her after dropping out of business school. Ebony frequently belittles her for this and other missteps.
  • Jane Lynch as Meredith Maple, Bertie's former swim coach, a red-crested turaco
  • Isabella Rossellini as Pat, Meredith's wife, an owl
  • Taraji P. Henson as Terry Toucan, Tuca's sister

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Tuca originated in Lisa Hanawalt's webcomic Tuca the Toucan which ran from 2013–2014.[10][11] On February 20, 2018, Netflix announced it had given the production a series order to consist of a first season of ten episodes. The series was created by Lisa Hanawalt who executive produced alongside Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright, Steven A. Cohen, and Tiffany Haddish. Production companies involved in the series include The Tornante Company and ShadowMachine.[9][12][13] On March 14, 2019, Netflix announced that the series would premiere on May 3, and a first look featurette trailer was released.[1]

Casting[edit]

Alongside the initial series announcement, it was reported that Tiffany Haddish would voice the lead character of Tuca.[9] On May 7, 2018, it was announced that Ali Wong had been cast as the voice of Bertie.[14] In March 2019, it was announced Steven Yeun had been cast as a series regular, with Nicole Byer, Richard E. Grant, John Early, Reggie Watts, Tig Notaro, Amber Ruffin, Jermaine Fowler, and Tessa Thompson appearing in guest capacity.[15]

Cancellation and revival[edit]

Netflix cancellation[edit]

Netflix announced the series cancellation on July 24, 2019. In a series of tweets responding to the news, Hanawalt expressed gratitude for the cast, crew, reviews, and fans.[16] Hanawalt and Haddish both expressed hope that the show could find a new home.[17][18]

The announcement of show's cancellation was met with a negative response. Within 24 hours of the cancellation, the Twitter hashtags #RenewTucaAndBertie and #SaveTucaAndBertie each received more than 10,000 tweets from users.[19] A Change.org petition to renew the show gained media attention and received 3,600 signatures in 24 hours.[16] Various news and lifestyle sites published columns lamenting the cancellation, while continuing to praise the show for its female representation, diverse cast, and handling of complex issues.[20][21][22][23] The cancellation was deemed to be "disappointing" and a "loss for television".[24][21]

The cancellation also led to criticism of Netflix's algorithm, highlighted by its failure to recommend the show to creator Hanawalt,[16][25] and at Netflix itself for prematurely canceling the series less than three months after its premiere, disallowing the show a chance to grow its audience.[26][27]

Adult Swim revival[edit]

On May 22, 2020, it was announced that the series would be revived on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in 2021,[8] making it the second Netflix original series to be revived coming off the cancellation of One Day at a Time in 2019.[28][29][30]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
1"The Sugar Bowl"Amy WinfreyStory by : Lisa Hanawalt
Teleplay by : Lisa Hanawalt and Raphael Bob-Waksberg
May 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
Best friends Tuca and Bertie are former roommates now that Bertie has invited her boyfriend Speckle to live with her. Bertie, anxious about taking their relationship to the next level, fears that any future disagreements between her and Speckle may mean the end of their relationship. Disguising her sadness at living apart from Bertie, Tuca moves to the apartment above Bertie and asks to borrow some sugar. Bertie gives away Speckle's sugar bowl, not realizing it houses his grandmother's ashes. Tuca, having since lost the bowl, helps her locate it. Along the way, the two confront each other about their anxieties. They track the bowl to the bakery of Pastry Pete, an idol to Bertie, who is herself an amateur baker. Tuca pushes Bertie to challenge Pastry Pete to a baking competition in exchange for the bowl. Bertie agrees, but finds herself attracted to Pastry Pete. Upon trying her croissants, Pastry Pete offers Bertie an invitation to be his apprentice. They recover the bowl, but the ashes are accidentally baked into a cake. Bertie apologizes to Speckle, who assures her of his desire to live together. Bertie in turn assures Tuca that she's always welcome to drop in.
2"The Promotion"Aaron LongLisa HanawaltMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
Bertie is focused on obtaining a promotion at work, but her attempts to establish rapport with her boss and display her ideas at the company meeting are blocked by her chauvinistic coworker Dirk. Later, Dirk sexually harasses Bertie, who is unable to get any support after reporting the incident to Human Resources. Tuca, meanwhile, engages in a series of small jobs to make money, to disastrous results. Upon learning that Bertie was sexually harassed and her chances of securing the promotion stymied, Tuca takes a temp job at the company and helps Bertie showcase her skills. Bertie is discouraged when her boss takes a liking to Tuca's energy and offers her the promotion position instead. Tuca assures her she doesn't want it and helps Bertie call a sexual harassment meeting. Other women in the office corroborate Bertie's experiences with Dirk with their own and Dirk is dismissed. Bertie requests and receives the job promotion, but learns that it means more overtime.
3"The Deli Guy"Mollie HelmsLee Sung JinMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)

The normally confident Tuca has a crush on a deli worker, who she calls Deli Guy. After some pushing from Bertie, she asks him out on a date, but her nervousness causes her to act irrationally, alienating her date. She later reveals to Bertie that this was her first date since going sober, and she doesn't know how to react while flirting anymore. Bertie apologizes for pushing her into it.

Meanwhile, Bertie has grown bored with her routine sex life with Speckle and attempts to spice things up with pornography. When that doesn't work, they try spanking and role playing, but Bertie has a surprisingly negative reaction to being called a "bad, dirty birdy." The two then watch her favorite British historical romance drama The Nests of Netherfield, and Bertie explains to Speckle that she really just wants to be surprised. Speckle manages to surprise her before work by setting up their apartment like the set of The Nests of Netherfield and romancing her.
4"The Sex Bugs"James BowmanRachelle WilliamsMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
Tuca has contracted parasites called Sex Bugs, hard-partying, sex-obsessed insects that live in her pubic hair. She convinces Bertie to go out with her to buy some lotion to get rid of them, though Bertie is apprehensive, having called in sick to work to avoid giving a big presentation. Tuca promises it will be a quick trip. Along the way, they encounter a women's empowerment seminar and Bertie takes a flyer. At the store, Tuca disregards the warning labels and mixes the parasite lotions together, causing the Sex Bugs to grow to human size and run amok. Ebony Black, an investigator for the Center for Sex Bug Control, arrives to exterminate them. Tuca objects, stating that the Sex Bugs just want to party and have fun and demands a trial, with Bertie as her counsel. Bertie, whose anxiety has skyrocketed from the trip, initially refuses until Ebony Black's partner Sophie insults Tuca. Bertie capably wins the trial, determining that Tuca contracted them from a bush in a protected historical landmark, which prohibits the killing of the protected Sex Bugs. Realizing she can handle more than she thought, Bertie takes up Pasty Pete's baking apprenticeship and gives her presentation at work.
5"Plumage"Amy WinfreyNick AdamsMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)

Tuca visits her wealthy Aunt Tallulah for her birthday. Speckle joins so he can see Tallulah's architecturally significant home. Tuca reveals that she grew up poor with her siblings and her single mother, who loved them, but died young. Tuca was taken in by her aunt, who continues to write her checks. The three celebrate by binge drinking, though Speckle notices that Tallulah's comments are highly critical of Tuca. Tuca later reveals to Speckle that she has not told her aunt about her sobriety for fear of bringing down Tallulah's birthday mood. Speckle encourages Tuca to stand up to Tallulah. When Tallulah insults Tuca's mother and mocks Tuca's sobriety, Tuca tears up the check Tallulah wrote for her and leaves. Tallulah yells after Tuca that everyone will leave her. On the drive home, Tuca fears her aunt is right that she will end up alone.

Meanwhile, Bertie takes the women's empowerment seminar after encountering a creepy plumber in her building and comes up with a mantra demanding a right to her personal space. While at the bakery, Pastry Pete forcefully presses against Bertie, which causes her to excuse herself to the restroom, where she feverishly masturbates.
6"The Open House"Aaron LongKaren GraciMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
Speckle, Bertie, and Tuca spend the day touring open houses to fantasize of home ownership. However, when Speckle and Bertie encounter a home they actually are interested in, they decide to put in an offer. This alarms Tuca, who is worried she will be left behind while they move ahead in their adulthood. She adopts a pet to help her form more commitments and adopts a wild jaguar. Meanwhile, Bertie and Speckle apply for a 30-year mortgage for the house, which alarms Bertie, who begins worrying about a mundane future with Speckle. At the bakery, Bertie's attraction to Pastry Pete grows, causing her to ignore Speckle's voicemails about the house. Bertie puts off his messages until he tells her they missed the opportunity and lost the house. Sensing some concerns, he asks her to call him to talk, but Bertie avoids him and visits Tuca instead. She finds the jaguar attacking Tuca, but Speckle arrives and manages to tame it and find it a home. Bertie apologizes to him and reveals her anxieties about commitment and uncertainty for the future, but Speckle tells her he wants to be with her now and that's all that matters to him.
7"Yeast Week"Mollie HelmsGonzalo CordovaMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
While playing a game, Tuca experiences a sharp pain in her side. She refuses to see a doctor, preferring to use homeopathic remedies instead. Bertie prepares for Yeast Week, an elite baking event where she and Pastry Pete will debut a new confection, the crünt. Tuca repeatedly interrupts her with her remedies, which cause Bertie to privately complain to Speckle that Tuca is too needy. Ashamed after overhearing Bertie, Tuca claims she is alright, but collapses in her room. Bertie arrives at Yeast Week and debuts the crünt to great admiration. Tuca wakes up in the hospital, where she learns she has an egg lodged in her Fallopian tube and requires surgery. Tuca reveals that her fear of doctors stems from her childhood when her mother died during surgery following a car accident. Pastry Pete invites Bertie to join him at the top bakers' table, but upon learning that Tuca is in the hospital, she turns down the opportunity. Bertie takes Tuca home, but expresses her resentment that Tuca is careless with herself, resulting in Bertie always needing to take care of her. Thinking they might be growing apart, they decide to take a break from their friendship.
8"The New Bird"Adam PartonLee Sung JinMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
Dakota arrives to the city and asks Pastry Pete for an apprenticeship, which he agrees to. Bertie is jealous of Dakota, but attempts to bond with her after Speckle suggests being a mentor to her. Bertie and Dakota get along and develop a successful new pastry while Pastry Pete is away. Meanwhile, Tuca is followed around by a mockingly critical apparition of Bertie. She joins a spiritual retreat, but inadvertently turns it into a cult. She flees into the woods and gives in to the apparition, which tells her she will never amount to anything. The apparition then tells Tuca that she is good at many things that Bertie is not, which is why they make a good team. At the bakery, Pastry Pete physically forces Dakota to observe the roux technique just like he did with Bertie; however, Dakota pushes him away and calls him a creep. After Bertie reveals he did the same thing to her, she asks Bertie why she did not warn her and Bertie is unable to respond. Dakota runs away in tears. Bertie leaves the bakery and begins driving. She encounters Tuca on the side of the road and the two drive off together.
9"The Jelly Lakes"Amy WinfreyShauna McGarryMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
After driving in silence all night, Tuca and Bertie tearfully make up with one another. They drive to Jelly Lakes, where Bertie's family owns a cabin. Bertie reveals what happened with Pastry Pete and wonders if he has sexually harassed other women. Speckle calls, concerned about Bertie disappearing, but she continually puts off his calls. They encounter Bertie's former summer camp swimming coach, Coach Maple, and stay at Bertie's cabin for the night. They spend a day at the beach with Maple and her wife Pat. Maple reveals her confusion as to why Bertie suddenly lost interest in swimming, when she trained all summer to swim to Peanut Island. Bertie storms out, arguing that she did not lose interest. Tuca follows and Bertie tearfully reveals a lifeguard had sexually assaulted her. Tuca tells her she is brave and reassures her she is confronting her problems. The next morning, Bertie sets out to swim to Peanut Island, with Tuca, Maple, and Pat following her in a canoe for support. Exhausted, Bertie sinks halfway there, but reconciles with her trauma and emerges, making it to the island. They celebrate and Bertie tells Tuca she is ready to go home.
10"SweetBeak"Aaron LongLisa HanawaltMay 3, 2019 (2019-05-03)
Tuca and Bertie arrive in town for Molting Season, and Tuca complains about the annual call with her siblings. When Bertie arrives home, Speckle explodes over her sudden disappearance, saying she shuts him out when she's having a problem, and that she needs to be honest and communicative with him. Speckle reveals he bought a teardown home to renovate and says he wants to be with her but won't chase after her anymore. Bertie quits Pastry Pete's and plans to open her own bakery, but finds supplies and space more difficult to secure than she thought. Tuca becomes concerned when her family doesn't call. Bertie reconciles with Speckle, explaining that her trauma made trusting people hard, but she wants to be with him. Later, Tuca and Bertie realize that Pastry Pete has blacklisted them. They confront him and Pastry Pete physically threatens Bertie, but Tuca records it and posts it online. Women boycott Pastry Pete and order from Sweet Beak. Bertie and Tuca fill the orders and distribute them to the public. Tuca calls her sister and says she loves her. She decides to live with her aunt and siblings and fix their relationship.

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 98% based on 42 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Tuca & Bertie skips right past BoJack Horseman's shadow with its chipper sensibility and madcap sight gags, bringing plenty of laughs as it addresses adulting anxiety and exalts the joys of friendship."[3] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 80 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]

In a positive review, Kate Abbott of The Guardian wrote that the show was "a chirpily realised world that stays true to its experimentalism - and its pleasures are consistent, if deliciously twisted, and very surreal indeed."[31] James Poniewozik of The New York Times, praised "Hanawalt's surreal vision, the anarchic fluidity of the landscape, the series's whimsically bending laws of both nature and physics." Critics praised the show's female-focused portrayal of trauma,[32] desire,[33] and friendship.[31] In a negative review, Brian Lowry of CNN wrote that the show did not stand out beyond similar adult animations on Adult Swim, declaring that the show was "strictly for the birds".[34] The show drew both praise and criticism for perceived similarities to Comedy Central's Broad City, due to both shows focusing on female friendship.[33][35]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Upon release, The A.V. Club thought that the show was one of the best new shows of 2019,[36] with Vox naming Tuca & Bertie one of the "5 best TV Shows of May 2019".[37] The Huffington Post named it as 6th best show of 2019,[5] Indiewire named it as the 2nd best new show of 2019 and the 20th best show of the decade,[38][39] and TV Guide named it one of the best animated TV shows of the decade.[40] In addition, the A.V. Club named it the 18th best show of 2019 and Junkee placed it on an unranked list of the best TV of 2019.[6][41] Specific praise was given to the episode "The Jelly Lakes", with both Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter naming it one of the best episodes of 2019.[42][43]

Tuca and Bertie was nominated for three awards, winning one, at the 47th Annie Awards, all for the episode "The Jelly Lakes".[44] It was nominated for Best General Audience Animated TV/Film and Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting (for Ali Wong), and Outstanding Achievement for Writing (for Shauna McGarry).[44] On January 25, 2020, McGarry won the Outstanding Achievement for Writing for "The Jelly Lakes".[45]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]