The final episode of the web series, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, has been released amongst much anticipation, rounding up a four year project. The six episodes parody children’s television, but quickly twist the initial impression, with the shorts rapidly turning odd, surreal and very dark.
There’s a vast array of fan theories aiming to explain the storylines, which I must admit are incredibly addictive once you’ve started digging. The videos are filled with clues to the meaning, some obvious, others more discreet being hidden in the background. The most popular theory is that the creators, Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, are making a comment on the controlling influence of the media on society.
I’m going to refrain from discussing the theory as I’d just be parroting other bloggers, but what I do want to look at is the comedy in these videos. If you like the surreal then these videos are a much watch. They’re the sort of thing Noel Fielding would conjure up and I admire the artists behind the project for not holding back with their creativity, which, as the theme of the first episode, may be something that the artists have experienced restrictions on in the past. Thanks to YouTube however, the creators have full control.
There’s three main characters; Red Guy, Yellow Guy and Duck. Duck’s squeaky voice is intrinsically funny and by contrasting it with Red Guy’s monotone pitch and Yellow’s typical dumb kid persona, every line is becomes funny.
Songs are a major part of each episode, helping to create the upbeat and seemingly safe childhood nostalgia. The songs are all catchy and will certainly induce stares if you unknowingly start muttering them in public.The juxtaposition with the songs exaggerate the harrowing scenes that appear late in each episode, and will make you laugh purely at how bizarre a situation it is.
The production is superb, there’s no distraction by poor quality. Each episode has a ‘teacher’, represented by an inanimate object that comes to life. Be it a tap dancing steak that can’t pronounce the word ‘organs’, or a butterfly mistaken for a little baby pigeon, the unique characters could seemingly be part of any mainstream children’s show.
Deeper into the series, episodes become packed with Easter eggs in the background. Some of these contribute subtly to the overall meaning of the narrative, but many are just neat little call backs which crack a smile. They’re videos made for repeated viewing, allowing new discoveries even upon the third or fourth watch. That’s when you realise how catchy the songs really are.
Episodes three and five are the most prolific in terms of comedy. They contain a few jokes, albeit it strange ones. The creators I think focussed more on making the steak character in episode five funny, with mispronunciation, the stupidity of his lesson and the bullying of the main characters. As for episode three, the inappropriate line by the sexually aggressive dog forced me to pause the video to break down laughing.
By reading and watching many of the fan theories, my favourite being by YouTube Explained, I believe that the messages behind the videos are very grandiose, but the skill in presenting it through a simple and familiar medium cannot be underestimated. The comedy on top of that and the ability to laugh at society has drawn in the viewers. This is what great writing and screenplays do, fantastic comedy on the surface masking a deeper meaning.
As always, thanks for reading and please subscribe and share. Merci