The Futurama Revival Is Already Taking A Major Risk

The Futurama revival is one of the most anticipated comedy shows of 2023, but the trailer has already proven that the series is taking a major risk upon its return. Futurama has a complicated history. Debuting in 1999, Futurama lasted for four seasons that aired from 1999 to 2002. The animated sci-fi comedy was then revived for four standalone feature-length movies between 2007 and 2008. This led to a fifth-season revival, which resulted in a sixth and seventh season released between 2010 and 2012. Then, in 2022, Hulu revived the series again, greenlighting Futurama season 8, which will consist of 20 episodes to air from July until September 2023.

This complicated history inevitably affected Futurama’s reception. While Futurama’s original revival ending was brilliant, it came at the end of two messy, divisive seasons. Like the revival movies, Futurama seasons 6 and 7 were inconsistent and featured some major misfires as well as some classic outings. This was nothing new for Futurama. The series’ original run included some duds, such as the transphobic outing Futurama season 4, episode 13, “Bend Her.” However, a pattern emerged when looking back on the weakest moments of the Futurama revival, and it is one that the Futurama season 8 trailer proves the show may well repeat.

Futurama’s New Revival Shouldn’t Rely On Topical Gags

The worst outings of the first Futurama revival, like the abhorred episode that inexplicably parodies Susan Boyle, were written in response to timely news stories. Already, the Futurama season 8 revival’s trailer features gags about COVID-19 and cryptocurrency, two timely topics that have largely faded from the news cycle in recent months. While South Park’s topical satire works well, this has never been Futurama’s strong suit for numerous reasons. For one thing, the show is set in the far future. As a result, Futurama episodes that comment on current events need to create convoluted alternative equivalents within the show’s universe.

Sometimes, this can be funny in and of itself. It is amusing to imagine that, even in the year 3000, Americans would still be voting for the cryogenically frozen head of Richard Nixon. However, this can just as often prove distracting and unfunny. In the aforementioned Susan Boyle episode, Futurama season 6, episode 3, “Attack of the Killer App,” the series parodied the iPhone with the eyePhone. However, the iPhone was released three years before the episode aired, making this satire feel played out. Futurama season 8 risks repeating this issue, judging by all of the revival trailer’s jokes about topics like cryptocurrency, which South Park spoofed back in June 2022.

Futurama’s Best Episodes Are Timeless Sci-Fi Stories

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Futurama is at its best when the show is parodying sci-fi tropes, not summarizing the news like South Park. Futurama’s Dungeons and Dragons parody was the best adaptation the game received for years, thanks to its affection for the source material and its sharp eye for comedic detail. This sort of genre parody is an area Futurama has always been comfortable, whereas the show’s forays into topical satire have consistently been hit or miss (with a heavy lean toward the miss category). As such, it is unfortunate to see the Futurama season 8 revival rely so heavily on the use of topical satire when this was never the show’s strength.

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