Hit or Sh**: FOX’s BORDERTOWN
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
For the life of me, I can’t understand how BORDERTOWN exists. I’ve always been supportive of FOX. Their politics aside, they are a network that is willing to try some pretty crazy things and their track record demonstrates that they have often been on the cutting age of entertainment. But boy, BORDERTOWN has really shaken my faith.
Animation is in a renaissance. It has been for quite a while. FOX broadcasts some pretty good animated shows, from juggernauts like THE SIMPSONS and FAMILY GUY to new powerhouses like BOB’S BURGERS. The success of these shows has also given their key creative talent (at least in FOX’s eyes) carte blanche to make whatever they want. That’s how shows like THE CLEVELAND SHOW air and get cancelled. That’s hopefully what’ll happen to BORDERTOWN.
Hopefully he’s being abducted to somewhere where BORDERTOWN was never made
Created by Mark Hentemann (showrunner and executive producer of FAMILY GUY), BORDERTOWN is the story of binary opposite families living in an imaginary southwestern city on the border of the United States and Mexico. Buck Buckwald (Hank Azaria) is the protagonist of the show, an amalgamation of all the conservative, racist, “‘Merica!” ideals that are the easiest to make fun of. He works as a member of Border Patrol in the city of Mexifornia and ‒ in this author’s opinion ‒ he is the worst. The show seems to think the same thing, making fun of his racism in equal measure with the Gonzalez Family and its patriarch, Ernesto Gonzalez.
The show believes that doling out equal amounts of jokes at the men’s expense somehow makes the show feel any less gross. That doesn’t work, and the quality of the jokes doesn’t help. BORDERTOWN swings wildly at any semi-modern pop culture reference they can make (yes, they reference BREAKING BAD) which makes a show with an already dated topic seem even more dated and even more desperate. BORDERTOWN’s premise is admittedly ripe for a frank and funny talk about racism. It does not capitalize on it. The plot of its pilot provides ample opportunity to compare and contrast traditional Mexican and American families. It fails miserably at that.
Pictured: A slightly less thought-out version of FAMILY GUY
BORDERTOWN is also very ugly. Variety is key part of what is making this Golden Age of Animation so fantastic (see STEVEN UNIVERSE and aforementioned BOB’S BURGERS), but the animation style of BORDERTOWN is lazy and ugly. Purposefully ugly animation makes a statement. It uses the grotesque to say something about physical characteristics, personality or what is valued in the show’s world. BORDERTOWN just feels like someone didn’t care enough to finish their drawings.
I could continue to list off all the things that make BORDERTOWN a bad show, but to do so would be its own form of punishment. I didn’t laugh once watching this show. Don’t hurt yourself. You deserve so much better.
BORDERTOWN airs on Sundays on FOX