During the first season of Duncanville, I checked it during the show’s run to say that it had gotten off to a promising start and looked like a FOX animated comedy that could actually have some legs. Now, an entirely second season has come and gone and is in the books. After watching two seasons of Duncanville, I stand by the assessment that it is the rare FOX animated show to succeed without any affiliation with Matt Groening.
If you need a refresher, Duncanville centers on the Harris family, and in the second season it seemed to be more about the family as a whole and less about Duncan, the 15-year-old son of the family. He’s voiced by Amy Poehler, and so is his protective, feisty mom Annie. There’s also Jack, a middle-aged patriarch who holds onto his rock-and-roll dreams (and ponytail). Duncan has a younger sister Kimberly who is a pretty traditional middle-school girl character. In the second season the adopted five-year-old daughter of the family Jin seemed to be a larger role as well. Duncan’s friend group remains a key part of the show in the second season, but Kimberly also got to have some friends, mostly in her witches coven.
If I had to describe the comedic sensibilities of Duncanville, I’d say it falls in between The Simpsons and Family Guy. The show was co-created by Mike Scully, who ran The Simpsons for seasons nine through 12. During that time the show got decidedly sillier and broke its reality more and more. This was a time when the Loch Ness Monster could show up and get a job at a casino. I didn’t like that sort of stuff, because it did not fit in with the universe of The Simpsons.
On the flip side there is Family Guy, which has no established reality. It’s a show that throws anything at the wall to see what sticks. They will do anything for a gag. It’s swirling chaos, but oftentimes the jokes are flimsy or non-sequitur pop culture references or cutaway nonsense. I liked Family Guy when it came out, but I tired of it when I was still a teenager.
Duncanville is a show where crazy stuff does happen. It does not take place in anything approaching reality. However, since it is the established reality of its own world I can accept it. They also don’t delve into Family Guy territory. I can’t recall much in the way of cutaway jokes, for example. Duncanville is a gag-heavy show that goes for a laugh whenever it can, but largely it works.
As long as the show about the Harris family is on TV, I’ll keep watching it. I feel like most episodes gives me four hard laughs for every joke I roll my eyes at for being too out there or sweaty. That’s a ratio that keeps me tuning in.