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Human Kind Of

Entry updated 23 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

US animated online series (2018). Facebook Watch. Created by Diana McCorry. Executive Producers Adam Belfer, James Belfer, Diana McCorry and Daniel Shepard. Written by Jamie Loftus, Diana McCorry, Daniel Shepard and Moujan Zolfaghari. Directed by Joy Buran and Noelle Melody. Voice cast includes Kate Berlant, Jamie Loftus, Zak Orth, Jill Talley and Michelle Trachtenberg. Twenty-one 4-10 minute episodes to date. Colour.

On her sixteenth birthday, science nerd Judy Reilly (Trachtenberg) wakes to find a giant murderous blood-clot in her bed; her mother Iris (Talley) explains "you finally got your first period", confessing that Judy's father (Orth) was a handsome, tentacled Alien she met whilst high on Drugs in the desert. When Judy suggests that might have been an hallucination, Iris replies she'd thought so too, until two months later "when you shot out of my mouth like a Monster from a Cronenberg movie".

Judy develops Telepathy, Telekinesis and Invisibility; her body has acidic blood, is self-healing and transforms when stressed. Her best friend, budding Graphic Novel creator Cory (Berlant), is ecstatic, suggesting that Judy become a Superhero and she her sidekick; or that they try cutting off an arm – if it grows back they can harvest her limbs and "start an organic prosthetics company and make millions" (a sort of legal Organlegging). Judy responds by growing a neck frill and hissing at her. After catching a cold, alternate sneezes take her to, then back from, the future (see Time Travel), jump-skipping to key moments in her relationship with an alien: meeting, courting, marrying, giving birth, finally standing at his deathbed.

Initially the show uses Judy's condition to explore teenage social anxieties: when Cory can't make lunch Judy uses her Shapeshifter abilities to fit in with various school cliques; her mind-reading reveals that bully Melissa (Loftus) is at heart a good person warped by the ambitions of her dreadful family. But Judy has earlier discovered an encoded message (and phone number) left by her father in her DNA, created through CRISPR gene editing (see Genetic Engineering): when he eventually returns her calls the plot changes gear. He appoints Judy the United Planet Ambassador to Earth (see Politics); as a result she has to provide advice to alien tourists and join Aliens Anonymous, where aliens mainly complain about being on Earth (not a desirable location). Judy is delighted to connect with her father and – despite her mother's warnings – tours the Galaxy with him. But she discovers that he is in real estate and plans to sell the Earth to the highest bidder; however, he is foiled by the arrival of Galactic law-enforcement led by Judy's future spouse.

Because the animation is fairly simple, Human Kind Of relies on its Humour and story. The comedy is good, particularly when Cory is involved; the plot is usually engaging and frequently utilizes sf tropes – either as a storyline (see Men in Black) or in brief exchanges (such as Generation Starships and Cory's "nihilist cootie catcher" that quotes Alan Moore) – though sometimes without fully engaging with them. This is an interesting and amusing show, one of an increasing number being broadcast online rather than television. [SP]


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