The latest media criticism of President Trump comes in the form of an over-dramatized cartoon.
Produced by Showtime, Our Cartoon President is a satirical political commentary with graphics and storylines reminiscent of South Park and Family Guy. The visuals are glamorous, developed and finely detailed, exploiting over-exaggerated physical features which have been mocked on the likes of Saturday Night Live and other television shows. Jeff Sessions is depicted with elf-like ears, Ben Carson is constantly squinting, and Eric and Donald Trump Jr. play homage to Dumb and Dumber.
There’s jokes about Russia, references to drones and overly bold criticisms. But despite its potential, unfortunately, Our Cartoon President is disappointing.
The first scene depicts an absurdly tanned Trump watching Fox News while lounging in bed with Melania. He is egotistical, self-absorbed and pompous. Fixated on the television and ignorant of his present wife, Trump praises the commentators for their infallible approval. The sequence is a shrewd, laughable social commentary of the political spectrum of the media, and also of Trump’s demeanor. However, a majority of the episode focuses on Trump’s boring and somewhat outlandish quest to deliver the greatest State of the Union speech.
The show, created by Chris Licht, Matt Lapin, Tim Luecke, R.J. Fried and Stephen Colbert — one of Trump’s biggest critics — is a 10-episode version of the mishaps and misadventures of the cartoon Trump that appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert throughout the presidential election. A caricature of our real-life president, Our Cartoon President is unique with a concept that differs from various other Trump impersonations gracing the internet. The cartoon special is one of a kind, but also flawed.
While impersonations and sketches on Saturday Night Live provide a medium for actors to mock and impersonate weekly Trump speeches and commentaries, Our Cartoon President is predetermined and scripted. Admittedly, it’s difficult to create consistency and timeliness in a visual heavy feature requiring extensive technological labor and logistic coordinating. But the lack of timeliness prevents the show from maintaining reliability and relevance with its viewers. Colbert accomplished immediacy in his original cartoon president late-night feature, and maybe Our Cartoon President should have stuck to its roots. News moves quickly, and Our Cartoon President is unable to keep up.
Additionally, at times the plotline is so absurd, bizarre and disjointed it’s difficult to follow along. For example, Trump reads his State of the Union from a fire truck, he collects a group of impersonators (one of which is Eric Trump) to stand-in at tedious public events, he eats hot dogs for family dinners and he consistently retells his delusional version of election night. There’s violence, chaos, a recurring scene of Ted Cruz in Trump’s bathroom, and a creepy elf-like Jeff Sessions traipsing around the White House.
Admittedly, the vocals are on point. The voice actors effectively and articulately copy and mimic the real-life figures both vocally and visually. Public figures are also adequately depicted with some interpretation, and the writing, when it strays from Trump, is relatively impartial. Both Republicans and Democrats alike are criticized, including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. In addition, Colbert intersperses laughable jokes mixed with clever and relatable social commentary that simulates real-world issues and events. For example, a skinny, Slender Man-like Jared Kushner constantly talks of prison, a reference to the current Russia investigation. Most importantly, the ’90s-style closing theme song is insanely catchy, with lyrics that cleverly mimic the viewers’ feelings of confusion and bewilderment.
The show features an array of overused lines and exaggerated jokes that many comedians, celebrities and politicians have already mocked, including: “this is gonna be hugeeee.” The repetitiveness fosters anger, disinterest and an altogether irritating viewing experience.
Our Cartoon President is absurd. However, its absurdity artificially mimics the dream-like sequence many Americans experienced on election night. While at times, Our Cartoon President is frustrating and annoying, it effectively simulates viewers’ confused and angry emotions through fairytale and exaggeration. While many sequences within the show are impossible to fathom, so too is the political state of our country.