There is a tightrope that successful adult animation must navigate; be insightful, be shocking, but not overtly vulgar or childish. Some succeed and become staples of our culture, other teeter and become embraced by some, despised by others. In 2011, one notable example pushed the envelope probably to its limits and failed to nurture an audience to save it from cancellation. But what do you expect from that young boy known as Allen Gregory?
The concept is that Allen Gregory is the pretentious young boy of a gay couple, who must attend regular school due to money troubles. The series then plays off the inevitable culture shock as Allen tries to interact and get along with his typical classmates, who Allen looks down on, much to the chagrin of his teacher and his Principal, the latter of which Allen has developed an inappropriate attraction to. Antics ensue as Allen’s behaviour starts warping the school, and life seems to be in his favour.
The characters and the voice acting help make this more charming than the plot description (or some of the stronger jokes) suggest. With Jonah Hill throwing himself into the role of Allen, who makes his apparent narcissism and snobbery feel like no fault of his own, even when bossing around his relatively innocent friend/lackey, Patrick. This is also true of French Stewart’s Richard; he spends his days as the unbeknownst figurehead of his father’s successful corporation. His oblivious attitudes seemed to have rubbed off on his adopted children, even his husband Jeremy, who might be straight, but left his family for the easy life being married to Richard would provide. Finishing off the family is Allen’s adopted sister, although she remains a lot more level-headed than the majority her adopted family and serves as the voice of reason.
But when competing in the hyper experimental world of adult animation, it can be a race to the edge of what is acceptable that finds itself in a lot of the show’s humour. Particularly with Allen’s …shall I say infatuation with his elderly Principal. This would probably prove trying to some viewers, but for those used to shocking concepts may get some mileage out of the jokes here. I like the inclusion of Keith David as Allen’s life mentor, though his advice may be equally skewed and would cause more trouble than its worth.
Allen Gregory was only with us for seven episodes yet during that moment, showcased the potential to be a fan favourite if given the chance. Like a strong cup of black coffee, it seems impenetrable at first but ultimately grows on you, with the veteran voice talents serving as guides to the comedy. In short, it is the ultimate example of an acquired taste, Allen Gregory is not your typical show, but there are few kids like him.
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