While the Rankin-Bass stop-action holiday animated specials are classics, we’ve never been fans of them. Always more partial to Charlie Brown ChristmasAnd GrinchBecause of their darkness. But the R-B shows were also pretty dark — the Island of Misfit Toys, anyone? — and that darkness is funnier coming out of seemingly wholesome-looking figurines’ mouths. That’s the thought behind the R-B-style animated miniseries Santa Inc. only the darkness — and the raunchiness — is amped up to 11.
SANTA INC.: STREAM OR SKIP IT
Opening Shot As we push through the gates of Santa Inc., we see the assembly line of gifts being loaded up on Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.
Gist Candy Smalls (Sarah Silverman) is the head elf and she’s got Santa’s operation down to a science. She even manages to catch a dead lizard before it gets on the sleigh before “Tiffany Chen from Tallahassee loses her shit.”
Brent Meadows, Brent’s boss, is basically the one running the place for Santa (Seth Rogen). He does all the work including starting the reindeer. Even Junior (Craig Robinson), the arrogant son of Rudolph, gets pumped up at the fact that the rest are going to “smell my ass tonight.”
Candy gets through the night without any problems and then has to deal with her stupid brother and uncaring mom. Goldie, a buddy on the all-female team, tells Candy about her sexual encounter. Cookie, her friend, complains about how exhausted she is caring for her gingerbread baby.
Jingle Jim, the chief of staff, calls an all-hands meeting at work. Santa brings them bad news. Brent was fired from Santa Inc. after he ran around the globe the night before. Seeing that Brent was poised to be the new Santa after the current one retires, the loss is a big one, like “getting fucked dry,” as Santa says.
Candy believes she is capable of doing that job. However, there have never been any female Santa Clauses. A visit from her grandfather (Paul Rust) convinces her to at least ask — right before he’s blown away by a stiff breeze and implores his granddaughter to hide his porn. She meets with Santa and he feels he’s just progressive enough to pull it off. But when she sees her boss’ bro-tastic Boxing Day party in progress, it makes her even more determined to be the new Santa.
Which Shows will It Remind Me Of? While one show uses Rankin-Bass-style stop-action animation and the other uses puppets, we can’t help but relate Santa Inc.You can find more information here Ultra City Smiths. Perhaps it’s all the cursing.
Our take:That would be what we’d have expected. Santa Inc. was just gratuitously dirty if we didn’t think there was an actual story that was worth watching. Alexandra Rushfield created this video.ShrillWith Rogen, Silverman, and other executive producers on the show, they try to transform the North Pole operation from a boring, suburban affair. They make Santa and the elves swear, and the gingerbread people, and reindeers talk about sex. The show can be described as a comedy at work with some gender politics.
If you look at it like that, and appreciate Silverman’s performance as Candy for the low-key seethe it is, Santa Inc.This makes it more enjoyable. Candy is determined to break the glass ceiling at Big Santa, and her view of the boys’ club Boxing Day shenanigans makes her even more determined. That story is great and we look forward to watching her struggle to win favor with Santa.
We can either take it or leave the rest. Rushfield appears to believe that the sight of Santa Claus and other North Pole curses like the Teamsters makes Rushfield laugh. Most of the gags she uses are unnecessary and don’t make sense. She’s done a nice job of building up characters like Candy and even Santa, and the funny stuff that comes out of those characterizations is much funnier than just seeing everyone curse.
We’ve said many times that we’re not prudes. But we also appreciate it when humor doesn’t go blue for going blue’s sake. We wish the first episode had gone a lot more blue.
The Sex of the SkinA lot of conversation about reindeer threesomes.
Parting shot After leaving the bro party, Candy says “Fuck those douches; someday I will be the first woman Santa. Period!”
Sleeper Star: Gabby Sidibe made us laugh when her character Goldie sang that “No one was complaining!” during her threesome. Maria Bamford, a Mrs. Claus with a sharp edge is her normal funny self.
Most Pilot-y Line: Mrs. Claus says to Santa that the doctor says one more cupcake will give him the “diabeetus.” “Fine, then get me some donuts! We’re all out! I’m not picky!” he responds.
Get in touch with us:STEAM IT. Sure, Santa Inc. isn’t afraid to get raunchy, and it feels like it lays that raunchiness on a bit thick. Silverman and Rogen provide funny performances, but there’s a story that is the heart of it all.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His work has been published in Salon and Slate as well as the New York Times. RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company, and other places
Keep an eye out Santa Inc.HBO Max