Show Runners: Tim Miller, David Fincher
Review Author: Tony
Back in 2019, the first season of Love, Death + Robots blew me away. Here was this gloriously manic gallery of adult animation exploring all kinds of crazy themes and ideas where nothing felt like they left it on the cutting floor. Spearheaded by established directors David Fincher and Tim Miller, both willed this experimental project into existence bringing together various extremely talented animators for an anthology of short films where they had complete creative control. Over the course of 18 episodes this avant garde opening season explored different themes, genres, animation styles, and even philosophies that truly felt unlike anything i’d seen before. As a fan of animated short films, especially on YouTube, it was fantastic to see them on a platform like Netflix with such a strong backing.
2 years later and after watching season 2 in its entirety in one sitting, my enthusiasm has somewhat dissipated. There’re several reasons as to why season 2 disappoints but one of the most glaringly obvious its brevity. Whereas the first season sported 18 episodes, season 2 is cut down to only 8 episodes, and while not every episode of the first season was a home-run, the sheer diversity paved over the few dips in quality. While I could forgive the reduced episode count with tighter episodes all of a higher quality, the fact of the matter is most feel too safe and unremarkable. Only 3 episodes is all I can walk away saying I actually enjoyed (The Tall Grass, Ice, and All Through the House if you’re wondering).
Perhaps most lacking is the rebellious flair/edginess of the original season, unafraid to delve into dark territory or just embrace both bloodshed, sex, and cussing. The sheer volume of adult content in the original series always threatened to cross the line of gratuitous and certainly rubbed a few reviewers the wrong way. Even I made a comment about the abundance of nudity which I now regret because I’m no puritan. Censors seriously need to drop the act that sex/nudity is somehow more damaging to viewers than copious amounts of gore and violence. This season is shockingly toothless in terms of pushing the envelope and even worse, rarely lacks any actual insight or though provoking concepts to garner its adult rating.
The animation remains stellar and again there’s a great variety on show here across each snippet. The Tall Grass and All through the House reminded me of Laika studio’s stop motion style, while Life Hutch and Pop Squad display just how impressive 3D animation can be. This season almost feels more like a demo tape for each animator rather than cohesive and engaging stories.
With fewer episodes and far less to say compared to season 1, Love, Death + Robots season 2 proves an all too brief and forgettable experience. It’s a shame because I love the format of the show and the fact these talented people get to showcase their work, but where the first season was a mostly cathartic escapade, sadly season 2 plays itself too safe with little to derive from each episode. It’s certainly a showcase for how far animation and motion capture has come over the years especially in the hands of lesser known industry heads, but I expected more steak with the sizzle.
Cans of Coors Light