Imagine an extraterrestrial species inhabiting a planet distinct from Earth, yet remarkably resembling humanity in all fundamental aspects. What if these beings we refer to as “aliens” are not so different from us after all? This intriguing concept is at the heart of cartoonist Nathan W. Pyle’s web series, “Strange Planet.” Through this series, Pyle offers glimpses into the lives of these non-human entities, simply called “beings.” The success and recognition of this concept have led to its animated debut on Apple TV+, with its first season.
“Strange Planet” stars a lineup including James Adomian, Cedric Yarbrough, Beth Stelling, Danny Pudi, Lori Tan Chinn, Hannah Einbinder, Demi Adejuyigbe, Tunde Adebimpe, D’Arcy Carden, among others. The creative force behind the series is a collaboration between Nathan W. Pyle and Dan Harmon, building upon Pyle’s webcomic of the same name.
However, “Strange Planet” defies expectations. Instead of a biting comedy that mocks human idiosyncrasies through the beings’ perspective, the series embraces simplicity, sincerity, kindness, and astute observation. By distilling the beings’ experiences and language to their core functions, the series offers a reflection of humanity. This familiarity is comforting, and its exploration of the delightful oddities of existence is captivating. The beings tackle job-related, relationship, familial, and friendship situations, exposing the essence of their hopes and resolutions. In doing so, “Strange Planet” becomes a reassuring slice-of-life show that provides solace to our weary minds.
The show’s comforting effect is achieved through a uniquely quirky approach. Pyle and his fellow writers employ commonplace terms and expressions from our daily lives in their most basic and literal forms. A “Like button” becomes a “Validation button,” a dog’s tail transforms into a “butt-spine,” a dance is referred to as a “limb shake,” and “teeth” are dubbed “mouth stones.” Parents are termed “life bringers,” while “gratitude” and “apologies” replace “thanks” and “sorry.” This high-key literal interpretation of our daily existence offers a calming perspective. The show’s focus on simplicity and directness uncovers beauty in seemingly mundane aspects.
“Strange Planet” playfully highlights our human colloquialisms in this straightforward manner. This uncomplicated grasp of our everyday realities can put our minds at ease. The absence of intricate complications shifts the focus to simplicity, allowing us to find value in what might initially seem mundane. The series affectionately teases our language and actions, fostering a greater appreciation for our own existence.
However, the true charm lies in observing the interactions of the beings as they navigate conflicts, relationships, and shared experiences. Pyle’s intention to weave kindness throughout is palpable. The beings tackle their challenges with empathy and kindness toward one another. In this aspect, “Strange Planet” strikes a chord by embodying a fundamental and aspirational element of humanity. Despite the world’s history of crises and conflicts, the series reminds us of the innate goodness we can display. By witnessing this positive reflection through the beings, we are inspired to better ourselves.
The animation mirrors the series’ storytelling approach—simple yet effective. The animation team at ShadowMachine, recognized for their work on popular series and films, has successfully created an inviting yet subtly unfamiliar environment in “Strange Planet.” The world is rich with the colors perceptible to human eyes, from the soft blues of the beings to the rosy hues of their sunsets. The beings themselves possess a gentle vibration, lending a curious humming effect to the frames. Just like the writing, the visuals radiate warmth, inviting outsiders (like us Earthlings) to partake in this experience.
In summary, “Strange Planet” is a delightful and straightforward watch. This unassuming slice-of-life series featuring extraterrestrial beings captures the joys and curiosities of existence within a functional society. It offers a reprieve for our overburdened minds. With exceptional voice acting, meticulously crafted animation, and intelligent and witty writing that playfully embraces the quirks of conscious life—be it human or extraterrestrial—this series stands as a distinctive gem, unlike anything else you’ll find on television.