Animation is often an underrated medium for films and television. We save it for kids or for raunchy, rude comedies. But with the success of films like Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse, it’s time to reevaluate the ways we view animated media. Animation allows writers and artists to explain things that can’t be said or shown in a real world setting. Even the most ridiculous of sitcoms have situations and boundaries that animation is able to break through. As a fan of shows like Broad City and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I’m used to shows taking me out of my comfort zone. But even so, I was incredibly grateful for Netflix’s decision to turn Ali Wong and Tiffany Haddish into two quirky cartoon bird gals in a big city. Tuca and Bertie is a show we needed to tell stories that all of us relate to, even though we can’t put it into words.
Each episode tackles something that hits home for most of us. Digging deep into our subconsciousness and forcing us to face our traumas in the same way the characters do. Whether its sexual harassment, toxic family ties or the anxieties of taking our relationship to the next level, Tuca and Bertie don’t handle the situations like perfect adults, and yet they learn and grow from them all the same. Here are some themes the show covers that prove just why Tuca and Bertie should be on your Netflix watch list.
Moving Forward in Romantic Relationships
One major plot theme throughout the show is Bertie’s relationship with her partner, Speckle. In the first episode, the pair decide to move in together and they openly discuss the pressure this decision has on their relationship, joking that one fight could ruin everything.
Throughout the show, the couple takes even more steps to develop their relationship intimately and spaciously. Their openness about the difficulties and insecurities of committing to forever. They prove that love will never be a happily ever after, but instead a series of ups and downs we all suffer through.
An unfortunate, but often present theme in the lives of young women is sexual trauma. Whether it’s abuse, catcalling or “Smack Ass” Friday in high school, we have all experienced waves of sexual trauma in our lifetimes. When Bertie experiences micro and macro level sexual harassment, Tuca gives her the pep talk we all wish we would’ve received to validate her feelings and prove to her that such behavior is NOT OKAY.
Tuca provides us with comic relief as Bertie hits us with the real shit. The show is a relateable breath of fresh air.
When Bertie encounters sexual trauma from her past, her community is supportive and encouraging she is able to conquer her anxiety and stand up to the other men in her life that have made her feel small. Although the topic is triggering and gut-wrenching, Tuca and Bertie handle it maturely and cleanly. Watching this show made me feel more comfortable with talking about sexual harassment to friends and family and it encouraged me to find my voice and say “no” when I am uncomfortable doing something. For a cartoon, Tuca and Bertie gets very real.
Establishing Boundaries with Others and Yourself
As mentioned before, Bertie learns to stand up for herself and establish boundaries with the men in her life. Tuca also learns to face her inner demons and learn to deal with them without toxic coping mechanisms. At the start of the show, Tuca announces that she has decided to become sober. We never learn about a single incident that was a breaking point, but instead Tuca is constantly reminded of the consequences of her past, drunken actions.
She spends time with her wealthy aunt who berates her because she pays her bills. Tuca also learns to fight back at the verbal abuse even though she is a trusted and loved family member. Both Tuca and Bertie learn to find their voices without the crutches of “magic shoes”, drinking or one another.
Dealing with Anxiety
Bertie is one of the most realistic depictions of a person with generalized anxiety disorder. She proves that anxiety is a lot more than just “nerves” when she calls out of work in order to miss a presentation and has a panic attack in the grocery store. Bertie also offers the audience several ways to deal with anxiety, such as wearing her favorite shoes on difficult days and giving herself mini pep talks whispered in the bathroom. Bertie is great representation for those who may suffer from anxiety and helps those who may not experience anxiety understand the thoughts and feelings of loved ones who do.
Tuca and Bertie is as wacky as it is real, which is exactly what we need with the heavy topics that are covered throughout the series. Tuca provides us with comic relief as Bertie hits us with the real shit. The show is a relateable breath of fresh air.