The Seth Macfarlane animation empire is growing a little bigger, as the new comedy Bordertown will travel through an illegal underground tunnel in making its way to Fox in 2016. To be expected, it’s a show full of jokes that would make you uncomfortable to laugh at in front of certain people, but at least the jokes are worth laughing at. For the most part.
In a somewhat similar approach to American Dad’s bipartisan family unit, Bordertown centers on the Buckwald family, headed up by the intolerant right wing patriarch Bud (voiced by Hank Azaria). They live in the newly formed state of Mexifornia, where Bud works as a border agent who would seemingly do away with everything he loves if it meant that illegal immigrants would become a problem of the past.
Bud’s xenophobic views don’t exactly help him out when it comes to a healthy relationship with his neighbor Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and his family. Of course, Ernesto is an immigrant – a legal one – and he could not be happier to have his loved ones in the U.S., where opportunities abound. And it should surprise exactly no one that Ernesto runs a lawncare service, because if you’re going to build up a show around stereotypes, you might as well use all of them.
Bud is married to the oblivious Janice, voiced by Alex Borstein, who also lends her recognizable talents to geeky daughter Becky, who is initially in a relationship with Ernesto’s brainy nephew J.C., also voiced by Gonzalez. The other two Buckwald children are the young ruffian Gert (Missi Pyle) and the not-quite-all-there Sanford (Judah Friedlander). Rounding out the cast of main characters is Ernesto’s straightforward wife Maria (Stephanie Escajeda) and son Ruiz (Efren Ramirez). There are also other side characters like Bud’s boss Steve (John Viener) and Bud’s nemesis El Coyote (Carlos Alazraqui).
Created by Family Guy writer/producer Mark Hentemann, with Macfarlane taking on an executive producer role, Bordertown fits easily into the same cavalcade of cartoons. In the episodes available for screening, there were jokes made at the expense of genders, races and people sensitive to audio gags implying someone’s shoes are squishy from semen. (I know, right?) Where El Coyote is concerned, the gags are amusingly reminiscent of Looney Tunes, which will hopefully continue throughout Season 1, and there’s also a bit of fourth-wall breaking for some jokes.
But for the most part, this is a show that seems as if it was inspired by the wall-building presidential campaign of Donald Trump, and the only reason you can tell it isn’t is because no one ever mentions Trump’s name. (And the fact that it went into production before Trump got rolling.) I can already see me groaning louder and louder with each time Buck uses the word “brown” as a way to poke fun at Mexicans, and while I’m probably more a fan of non-P.C. humor than is necessary, my enjoyment of the culture-targeted humor wavered from one second to the next, as satire turned to meanness. Luckily, the random jokes – such as Gert’s idea of Chutes and Ladders – are often goofy enough to draw a laugh, and it’s admittedly refreshing to see a TV show tackling this subject matter in an intelligent way.
Your mileage is definitely going to vary when it comes to Bordertown, and its bias-as-comedy foundation doesn’t seem like it will cast as far-reaching a net as Family Guy, or even The Cleveland Show. That said, I’m the kind of person who will gleefully watch anything and everything that Hank Azaria is a part of, lest we suffer through losing another TV gem like Huff. Borderland obviously isn’t that kind of show, but it’s not a bad way to pass the time on a Sunday night when Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and the NFL aren’t on at the same time.
Make sure your green card is handy when Bordertown makes its debut on Fox for its revamped Sunday Funday on January 3, 2016.