Review: WTF 101 “Cute Animals”

Some wells never run dry, and some were nearly empty, to begin with.

Overview (Spoilers Below)

The detention gang is tired of Professor Foxtrot’s disturbing lessons, and ask her to teach them about something cute, like adorable animals. Professor Foxtrot then takes them on a trio of terrors in the cuddly animal kingdom. The first is some extremely horny arctic penguins. These penguins will not only rape adult females, but the males will rape each other, babies, and the literally frozen ground. They will even have sex with a pile of snow with a dead female penguins head attached because their sex drives are so ravenous. Suitably disgusted, the gang demands to leave.

Foxtrot then takes the crew to see the sedentary sloth, resting in a tree. River falls in love with the sloth, in whom she sees a kindred spirit. They are both chill beings who don’t like to move very much. The sloth, however, has one distinct difference. It defecates only once a week and does so in one massive log. It must go down to ground level to do this, and it’s actually the leading cause of death among these creatures. River and the rest of the class is now totally disgusted by this as well, and are whisked to their third example.

Now underwater, the gang encounters a very bro-y dolphin. While the gang is initially taken by his jocularity, they become quickly horrified when they see him beat a baby porpoise do death. Dolphins apparently love to murder their fellow sea creatures via head-butt. While the gang initially posits that it might be because of some kind of survival or territorial instinct, it turns out that scientists actually have no idea why they do it, and dolphins might just be cruel beings. The five return to the classroom and Professor Foxtrot tells them that they should not have expected any more from any animals because they’re cute. They should instead remember that nature is a cruel and disgusting place.

Our Take

This is probably the first lesson that WTF 101 has put forth that I can unequivocally get behind. The designation of an animal as cute has long been a reason to either make a concerted effort to save an endangered animal or not. It also surrounds norms about which animals are safe to eat, and which are looked down upon for doing the same. So, it was nice to see the show grapple with such a relevant topic for a change.

Similarly, it also felt like the most natural segue into the learning experience. After a few episodes, we’re starting to get a feel for what these characters’ motivations and personalities are, and it’s good to see that there’s some continuity in these kids being traumatized over and over again. They don’t go full Rick and Morty with it or anything like that, but it’s good to see these jaded youths have some resistance against an adult who, for all intents and purposes, is torturing them.

Where this one works less comes back to my core complaint about the show. While the human-centric episodes have been continually surprising me with the interesting aspects of historical cruelty they can mine for animations, the animal episodes are as predictable as ever. The animals are going to have weird sex and kill each other. That’s it. After the first couple of iterations of this conceit, it gets old pretty quickly. I know the animal kingdom is a truly disgusting place to a civilized human being, but after a while, we’re just taking a biology class focused on sex and murder. I’m left wondering when this information will be useful because its entertainment value diminishes upon each revisit.

At this stage in the season, I imagine we’re halfway through the series order, maybe even further along. I’ve also now had Dropout TV for about a month. As with many streaming services, it’s struggling in its first year to justify itself as some kind of competitor or supplement to Netflix, especially when it boasts at least a similar price tag.

Dropout has the right idea green-lighting an animated series to round out their programming (which also include a game show, a prank show, a scripted series, a drawing show, and a D&D campaign), and they have two unique advantages. They have an in-house stable of creators and a backlog of beloved sketches. These pad the sparse offerings by the service, but I can’t see a path here to longevity.

After this season, could they really do more WTF 101? The Magic School Bus ran for 52 episodes, but it was definitely repeating itself past the halfway point. I guess if WTF 101 is already doing it, it’s only a matter of how far they’re willing to go.

Score
4/10

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

Zach has 127 posts and counting. See all posts by Zach