Futurama & Ugly Americans vs. Wilfred & Louie

| July 1, 2011

Fans of edgy half-hour comedies have a very difficult decision to make this summer on Thursdays at 10-11 EST: Comedy Central or FX? Comedy Central has veteran animated comedy Futurama and second-year Ugly Americans and FX has the brand new Wilfred and sophomore Louie.
These four shows are fairly new and perhaps you’ve never heard of them. Futurama is about a young man from the year 2000 who gets cryogenically frozen for one thousand years. When he emerges, he starts working for his elderly great great great…grandson at a delivery service (a huge step up from his career in 2000: pizza delivery boy) with a sexy mutant, an alcoholic robot, and a slew of other amusing intergalactic characters. This show is a no-brainer favorite of The Simpsons fans since it’s another Matt Groening project and has a similar sense of humor. You may think “Hey, I think I remember that. Didn’t that get canceled?” It did! But just like Family Guy, the fan base was so strong that Comedy Central aired reruns and then started airing new ones shortly thereafter.
Ugly Americans follows Mark Lilly, a human social worker at the Department of Integration, as he helps new citizens, both human and “other,” adapt to hectic life in the Big Apple. He has a half-demon, half-human girlfriend and his roommate is a zombie just to give you an idea of how far out these characters are. Though significantly darker and grosser than Futurama, it’s still a funny animated comedy. I watched every episode last season and got a good handful of laughs in.
On the FX side of the equation, Wilfred premiered this summer and stars Elijah Wood as Ryan, a man brought back from the brink of suicide by his new neighbor’s dog, Wilfred…that only he sees as a human in a dog costume. Wilfred becomes Ryan’s only friend and confidante as he tries to impress Wilfred’s owner and find meaning in his life. Oh, and they both smoke a fair amount of pot.
Louie is a mash-up of stand-up and skits about the life and thoughts of the star, Louis C.K. That is a really boring explanation for a really funny show.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Louie since I watched the first season on Netflix. I carved its second season premiere date in my mind months upon months ago. Then I saw an ad for Futurama‘s new season. Perfect! Right before Louie – what a great hour of solid comedy. Then I saw the ads for Wilfred. Damn! Same time as Futurama. Then I discovered Ugly Americans conflicts with Louie. Really guys? In the vast gaping hole that is summer programing, you all had to go head-to-head?
So how does one choose? Let’s look at the match ups.
Futurama vs. Wilfred: Futurama is tried and true funny, Simpson-esque comedy with great characters and fantastic vocal performances (ahem, Billy West, ahem). However, Wilfred‘s premise is too good to ignore. I had to at least give Wilfred a chance. I saw both the premiere Futurama episode and the premiere Wilfred episode and I have to give the “Watch This!” Award to Wilfred. While both were funny with great performances and characters, Wilfred was just newer and fresher. I’ve never seen anything like it. The characters and concept are so rich that I want more. With Futurama, I know what I’m getting; Wilfred‘s a fun new adventure. Also, Comedy Central will replay last week’s Futurama from 9-10pm EST, so I can have my cake and eat it too.
Ugly Americans vs. Louie. Both edgy comedies with Ugly Americans being way out there with premise and visual style and Louie having content that is certainly not child appropriate. Louie wins hands down. I say this mostly because Louie is the funniest comedy on television. Put Louie up against any comedy on TV these days and Louie would win (this includes all of my favorites: The Simpsons, South Park, Psych, Raising Hope, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). Louie is just such an honest look at the human condition. Louis C.K. portrays a father and a man who is forthright about his feelings on parenthood, himself, and dating. How many actors would describe, to millions of viewers, their stomach as looking like a nursing mother dog while having sex? It’s like Louis C.K. has no vanity. It’s that bareness and rawness that makes Louie a cut above the rest.
So, if you’re wondering if you should give FX a shot to be your top choice for Thursday night comedy, do it. And if you know the program manager for Comedy Central, and South Park is not running new episodes, move Futurama and Ugly Americans to Wednesday please.

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