I never thought I’d hear “sitcom” and “Instagram” in the same sentence, but it actually makes a lot of sense in our attention deficit era. This is the age of video, and long form media often fail to draw the average person’s attention – in fact, you might be skimming through this blog right now! But I don’t object – in fact, Blark and Son by Stoopid Buddy Studios, a short-form web series that updates every Monday on Instagram, does an amazing job capturing the essence of the online generation in the form of the old-school “manly-man” parent trying to bond with their nerdy gamer teen. The humor is wonderfully irreverent and relatable to Robot Chicken fans (show creators Ben Bayouth and Adam Aseraf are alums from that show), but the show has a surprisingly sweet side as well.
The basic format of the show is 50 or 60-something year old father Blark barging in to the room of his son (referred to only as Son), and trying to connect with him, though Son is generally busy playing League of Legends or Minecraft. That’s it in a nutshell! The Instagram format limits the show to being a maximum of one-minute long, and maybe it’s because the show is so short that the writing is so tight. The show generally depicts the disconnect between Blark’s and his son’s generation, with Blark asking Son what’s happening in his life (and often being confused by the answer) or going off on a long-winded story about the good old days, and Son just wanting to be left alone to his gaming.
The puppet design is spectacular, and the gruff voice of Blark (Ben Bayouth) and breaking voice of Son (Christoph Mintz-Plasse) convey the characters perfectly. Most of the episodes are made to stand on their own as a singular comedic bit, but as the show has progressed since it started last January, the show-runners have incorporated running gags, new characters (such as Son’s online gamer friend Zeke from a dictator-led country), and even a running plot where Son is trying to figure out who his mom was / is and what happened to her.
Like Rick and Morty, underneath the silliness of the show there is a kernel of sweetness and a legitimate attempt to showcase the confusion people feel about their place in the world. Son is a typical teenage gamer who spends a lot of time in his room, yet at the same time is grappling with typical issues such as discovering a girl thinks he’s cute, or trying to navigate the complex maze of how social media likes and comments might equate to real-world affection. Blark on the other hand, never gives up on his son or discourages him from his gaming habits, while at the same time trying to understand him. Blark relates his old-school views, but never defiantly pushes them on Son. While the two often butt heads (and Son using logic to defuse Blark’s flights of fancy), there is a sweetness in Blark’s persistence and occasional success at bonding with Son, and there have even been a couple episodes that flip the script with Son going to his dad’s room to ask him questions about life and love.
The wonderful thing about trying to actually say something important through the lens of zaniness is that when the touching parts hit, it hits you harder because you’re disarmed by your expectations. That being said, whether Blark and Son is trying simply to make you laugh through goofy observations or convey a deeper meaning, I’m straight hooked (Also, I’m really invested in finding out more about Son’s mother). At this point you can watch the entire Blark and Son catalog in less than an hour, so I highly encourage you to go catch yourself up on Instagram and subscribe to see their new episodes every Monday.
Now that you’ve checked out Blark and Son, what do you think? Any other good web series out there that are both sweet and silly? Let me know in the comments! If you enjoyed this humble slice of nerd pie, be sure to follow Nerd Speaker on Twitter and Facebook.
Image via Cartoon Brew.