TV Show Review: Happy Tree Friends

A long time ago I lived in Memphis, going to art college.  On a whim trip to a local Gamestop, I picked up an used copy of a Happy Tree Friends DVD (it was the Third Strike one).  After watching it, I was so inspired that I made acrylic and ink poster designs of a homicidal Mickey Mouse, as a social awareness of violence in children’s cartoons.  If you’re wondering why this is labeled as a television show when it’s mainly an Internet cartoon, G4 ran this as a half-hour program.

Happy Tree Friends has a simple premise- cute creatures get killed in the worst ways possible.  Characters include a moose named Lumpy, a skunk named Petunia, a squirrel named Nutty, a mole appropriately named Mole, and so on.  If you fall in love with these characters, don’t fret- they appear in future episodes as normal.  The episodes are relevantly short- these from the DVD are seven minutes each, and there are about nine episodes.

Happy Tree Friends was created originally on the Internet, existing with that of Joe Cartoon and Killfrog, all being flash cartoons that were sent as attachments from your mother saying ‘Oh, look at Frog in the Blender HILARIOUS’ when you had an AOL account.  However, what sets Happy Tree Friends from the other cartoons is the intentional parody of cartoon violence- this is like the older brother’s version of Homestar Runner.  While Joe Cartoon and Killfrog really are aimed at adults, Happy Tree Friends portrays itself as a children’s program that just happens to kill all the characters.  So, regardless of how cute it all looks, this is not suitable for children aged 10 and below; kids above that, they’re at a point when they know the difference, so I think it’s alright for them.  Then again, I watched Total Recall at five and loved it, what do I know.  I still turned out okay.

Would I recommend this?  Yes- the episodes are short so if you don’t like it you only wasted seven minutes (or less, if you catch the earlier episodes which are like a minute long), and they can be found easily on the Internet.  All of the DVDs are on Netflix Instant Stream, they’re on sale at Amazon for reasonable prices, and even on Youtube and on their official website (happytreefriends.com).  I recommend the DVD version for one reason- commentary.  I usually hate commentary when watching something on DVD, but hearing as they writers explain all of their references and they’re actually hilarious (at least for me), I don’t watch Happy Tree Friends without it.

The pics are from Season 1, but because the series have no plot or continuing storylines, I won’t be reviewing them.

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