Smiling Friends Season 2, Episodes 1-3 Review

About Smiling Friends

One of the first things that stands out about Smiling Friends, the popular show on Adult Swim that recently launched its second season, is its unique combination of art styles. From simple, pastel-colored critters like Pim and Charlie to hyper-detailed characters like Mr. Boss, the creators Michael Cusack and Zach Hadel have created a visually striking world. The show’s first season featured stop-motion and rotoscope animation, and the new episodes continue to push boundaries with 32-bit polygons and even live-action segments.

While each episode follows the characters as they try to cheer up a new, strange character, the show’s structure is more of a loose framework than a strict formula. The lack of a continuous plot and the presence of only light continuity allow for creative freedom and unexpected twists in each episode. In many ways, Smiling Friends harkens back to classic Adult Swim shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, with its nonsensical humor and animated style reminiscent of Flash animation from Newgrounds.

Season 2 Gallery

Each 11-minute episode of Smiling Friends feels like a magical journey, with small details from the beginning coming full circle by the end. The show’s rapid-fire surrealism is balanced by a twisted logic that keeps viewers engaged. The Season 2 premiere introduces Gwimbly, a washed-up video game mascot, showcasing the show’s attention to detail with references to 1990s platform games like Spyro the Dragon.

What sets Smiling Friends apart is its commitment to experimentation and specificity. The show’s ability to intertwine mundane realities with colorful and bizarre scenarios creates a unique viewing experience. Despite some missteps, such as with the live-action president segment, the show’s overall enthusiasm for pushing boundaries in adult animation is evident. While there may be violence and ugliness in the world of Smiling Friends, it’s hard not to find joy in the chaos unfolding on screen.