SPOILERS FOR DON’T HUG ME I’M SCARED. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is finally back and it still manages to both terrify me and make me laugh in ways that I’ve never felt with any other series adapted from YouTube.
Originally created by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling, the original Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared series consisted of six episodes with each episode centered around a specific life lesson. Whether it be learning how to be too creative from a talking notebook to understanding what love (and cultism) is from a colorful butterfly, the YouTube series masters the subversion of child-educative shows and uses its subjects in a way that’s both critical and comical to our basic understanding. It is thanks to this format that makes Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared truly special.
With its comeback series out, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared brings back the iconic trio of Yellow Guy, Red Guy, and Duck as they learn new life lessons from unique and wacky characters. However, if you’ve watched the original YouTube series, you probably know about the gore-y and gruesome build-ups hidden in between the lighthearted, wholesomeness of this franchise. Luckily, the television series manages to keep up the energy from its YouTube predecessor and even expand upon the original intentions of the YouTube series in a way that pushes its boundaries.
While the YouTube series gave us conceptual lessons, the television series introduces us to more grounded lessons like jobs, families, and friendship. The format of the episodes still the same: the trio of main characters is met by the embodiment of the subject and they’re taught through a song, which would get the point across. However, the episodes get increasingly darker and more grotesque as the environments and the characters around them become more abominable and realistic in their own ways. One episode, Family, takes the cake for being one of the more obscene scenes in the entire show as the so called “family” Yellow Guy gets into transforms into wild animals rushing to eat whatever they can (Friendship takes the second!)
The grotesque-ness of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared isn’t just limited to the episodes, however, but the show overall. There are bits spread around, from the intro to the main events in the episodes themselves, that highlight the show’s descent into a deeper madness and insanity that the YouTube series captured. The main trio, while they do stay true to their position in this constructed reality, they do have this growing doubt that there’s something else at play in this world. Because of what this world is, they don’t really have that chance to realize, building onto the suspense that this series wants to get across and successfully does.
However, the final two episodes, Transport and Electricity, are major in telling what Sloan and Pelling have wanted audiences and fans to understand about this franchise in the first place. In each and every episode, from the YouTube series to the television series, the main characters are constantly told what to do, in a manipulative way, and if they veer off the assigned path, they get put back into their little bubble. They don’t have that real chance to learn and understand the world in a way that enhances that real knowledge about themselves, rather it does so superficially.
And then there’s that final episode, which honestly felt more of a thriller than the final episode from the YouTube series. In this episode, Yellow Guy is a highlight character after he gains an enhanced intellect, which allows him to explore more of the house we’ve never seen in this series. Throughout this episode, he begins to not only question his meaning, but the world around him and how it’s all been fabricated. However in the end, we all know the show must go on even though true freedom and release was only a few steps away.
Honestly, the build-up to this finale, after everything we’ve seen from this franchise and the details in between, definitely paid off and Sloan and Pelling should be proud of what they’ve done with getting their message across.
Besides the main substance of the show, the jokes and references to the YouTube series were a joy to see. Most of the episodes have a blatant bluntness and awkwardness to them, but it builds off of that type of humor we’ve seen before from the original series. There’s this one joke in Transport that references the old in-development series that was being produced by Conaco and Blink Industries that I definitely didn’t see coming and though I did laugh, I was also a bit saddened after realizing what happened.
However, even though this series is as good as it is, there are some problems that hold it down. The humor at points can get out of hand and I feel like some of the acting for the other minor characters feel similar to other characters we’ve seen before. The format still remains the same and though I did like it, I think I’ve had that short-lived likeness because I haven’t felt the feelings I’ve had for the YouTube series in a while. I would’ve been a bit more interested if we did see a new format that’s different from the subverted-children’s entertainment format, but I’m happy with Sloan and Pelling’s decisions to keep the original format. If you love the original, nostalgic feel of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, then I’d say you’re in luck.
Overall, Sloan and Pelling are still able to master the fundamentals of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared and create a television show that reinforces the core messages of the original YouTube series. It’s very exciting to see this lovable trio return and their adventures in a fabricated world of half-truths and pessimistic realities.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is available to stream on All 4.