Ten years ago there was a show about a rude surly jerk that was the lead in show for a baby girl pony show about friendship. I actually don’t know if HUB Network is still around. In fact I don’t know if most TV stations are still around since I was forced into getting a streaming app for atleast 15 different shows I want to watch. Want is a bit strong. More like I have a rare mental condition sparsely diagnosed that causes me to get itchy if I start a show but don’t finish it. Dan ended up being one of those shows. I caught it after it’s original run ended. It was on Hulu for awhile. I don’t know where he is now seeing as streaming rights are traded as often as football players and I only have so much money for streaming platforms I won’t watch each month. Where am I going with this? I dunno really. It still boggles me that both of these are real commercials.
I know networks can have vastly different shows, but typically they don’t shove them both together. Simpsons and Family Guy are basically the same show on paper and even then they took a decade to cross over. So why Dan and why now I suppose. Well it’s been 10 years. That’s it honestly I noticed Dan Vs. came out in 2011. I have to say this show was pretty great. I’d say near perfect but it abruptly ended. Possibly because they were advertising it to pony fans rather than it’s target demographic. Unless the old brony arguments were true and HUB knew only 20 something year old guys watched My Little Pony? Whatever the case it’s a shame because this show was about an angry loser getting petty revenge and dragging his more successful friend down with him when he does. When I say petty I mean relatable petty.
Flipping out on fast food workers or boring museums to the DMV each episode full of adult humor and juvenile antics. So regardless if age or IQ you had something to giggle about. Not to mention Dan himself. We all know someone like Dan, and if you don’t then it’s you. With plots from the mundane to ones of existential crisis or supernatural horrors. All while staying fairly episodic. Aside from Mr. Mumbles, his lady cat, the bulk of the main characters stay the same in each episode.
Repeat characters tend to not factor in much outside of their specific plots. He has an imposter, his best friend’s wife is a secret agent and no one knows, the burger lady he kinda dates, and I want to say a mummy comes back a few times. Aside from that everything else is self contained. Except his self hatred. That’s the best part of it all. By the end he admits he hates himself. He knows others hate him too. Yet he is largely okay with it. Not in a healthy let’s work on it way, but the realistic “whatever let’s just not get worse” sorta vibe. At no point does it glorify being a asshat like most Adult Swim shows. You never, or atleast shouldn’t, want to be like Dan. Yet it never gets to House MD levels of his life falling apart.
Dan isn’t damaged. He is just a jerk. He wins enough of his fights to justify his actions while losing enough to stay grounded. Plot and characters are one thing. Dig hard enough and use flowery terms and you can make anything seem deep. So let’s look at the three main characters.
Visually distinct and stylized not styled after a visual distinction. I mean each character looks unique with a style fitting them and their personalities. Not like say the Simpsons where the art style is more important than personal flair. It’s refreshing to see animation not look like cookie cutter paper dolls pumped out in Macromedia Flash.
It’s a visual treat. Unbound but not formless. It has a “look” but it’s not a very limiting one. Plus let’s not forget the backgrounds. The show managed to look polished and sloppy. Like you could totally see this scribbled in your artsy friend’s notebook or actually it is what I would expect from a big budget internet cartoon. The show had heart. It felt genuine from design to character arcs. I haven’t even watched an episode in atleast 3 years yet it sticks with me. I can think back to any episode and it feels like I just watched it last week. Which is impressive considering the sheer amount of media I consume on a regular basis.
Shows like Dan Vs make it worth it. His rage is usually justified, but his reasoning is almost always flawed. Even when he is told bluntly “You can’t stop technological progress, Dan” his reply is along the lines of “How do you know?! Has anyone ever tried?” a perfect response. It was a show that wasn’t afraid to try and be different, for better or worse. Not every episode is gold. A decent amount wouldn’t hold up to repeat viewings sadly. Part of why I didn’t revisit it for this review. The other being I wanted to give a glimpse of how I remember this classic but of overlooked comedy. It’s so easy to sit down to review a show with it in front of you. It’s something else to go off your patchwork of knowledge. Only talking about how it might rest in someone else mind. Patchwork of knowledge being a term that always stuck to me from that show. So much so I had to Google it.
So other than that I say go check this show out. You don’t need to finish it. Just a passing glance is fine. I happened across the show at a low point in my life. Somehow it managed to not get tangled up in that mess. A few things I like get an easy pass because it helped me out. I got into Naruto right after my first major break up. That show lives in that part of my mind. Like a TV version of comfort food. Dan on the other hand made me feel normal, not better. I guess that’s why the show goes largely overlooked. It’s so identifiable that you just accept it. So track it down online or grab a DVD box set. I can promise it will be worth a physical purchase. Maybe not a digital rental kinda show unless you are just watching an episode or two. After the year we all had I think you could use some cathartic revenge shows in your life. If not then uh… I guess I should give it a number rating or something so I give Dan Vs a solid eight. Just an eight not out of anything. I mean why’s it matter if you don’t know if you want to check it out by now a number shouldn’t change that fact. Besides what else ya got going on.