In our household, there has been a great need for comfort television. The last couple of years have found us stuck indoors more than ever for very obvious reasons, and while the world burns around us, we need to seek joy anywhere we can to keep ourselves from doom-scrolling the days away. Shows like Joe Pera Talks With You, Ted Lasso, and Bob’s Burgers have encapsulated a feeling of wholesomeness while still being absolutely hilarious. For those in search of a feel-good comedy with a lot of heart, and maybe a Sasquatch or two, look no further than The Great North.
The Great North
comes from producer Loren Bouchard, and shares the look of Bouchard’s other recent series Fox’s Bob’s Burgers and Apple TV+’s Central Park, but was created by Bob’s writers Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, along with writer and voice actor Minty Lewis (Regular Show, Infinity Train. (Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe should do themselves a favor and familiarize themselves with the Molyneux sisters, who have been tapped to co-write the script for Deadpool 3.) The writing is always thoughtful and hilarious, and on top of those creative titans is a stacked cast of some of the funniest voices in TV comedy.
The Great North follows the lovable Tobin family, residents of the fictional Lone Moose, Alaska. They’re a family that loves each other and is never afraid to express it. While other cartoon families might have a tender moment towards the end of an episode, the Tobin family is nothing but heart. The patriarch of the family, Beef Tobin, voiced by Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation) is a single father of four who is constantly learning how to process his wife, Kathleen’s, abandonment of the family some years prior. Beef is a fisherman and avid outdoorsman, not unlike many of Offerman’s characters-or Offerman himself-though with a much warmer demeanor than the stoic Ron Swanson. He’s soft-spoken, sensitive, kind-hearted, and maybe the most supportive father you’ll see on television today. If you met him in real life, you’d want to give that guy a hug. Beef encourages his children to be themselves, help others, and follow their dreams. He’s not without his flaws, particularly when it comes to getting over his ex, but he is always open to having his perspective changed. Beef is the glue that holds the already close family together.
The Tobin children each pack their own punch of loveliness and quirky behaviors. Eldest son and forever optimist Wolf (Will Forte of MacGruber and Last Man On Earth fame), and his wife, Honeybee (Dulcé Sloan, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah) met on a movie quote message board and quickly fell in love over their passion for film. Honeybee moves from Fresno to Lone Moose for love, as the pair trade movie references and puns on the regular. They’re a couple of adorable movie nerds, excited by even the most mundane films, which makes the pair all the more charming.
Ham Tobin (Paul Rust, Love) is a bit aloof but a sweetheart all the way. Ham is openly gay, and his family accepts him with open hearts, so much so that they often must remind him of the multiple times he’s come out to them and that they embraced it on every single occasion. The lone Tobin sister, Judy, voiced by Jenny Slate, (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On), is Ham’s “Alaskan Twin,” meaning they aren’t biological twins but were born exactly 9 months apart. Judy is often seen in the wee hours on the roof of the Tobin homestead talking to her imaginary friend Alanis Morissette voiced by… well, the real Alanis Morissette, who appears to her as an apparition in the aurora borealis and helps her talk through her teenage escapades. Rounding out the siblings is Moon Tobin, a very serious ten-year-old, voiced by comedian Aparna Nancherla (Corporate), who is always wearing a bear onesie.
Over the course of the first two seasons, we see the Tobin family getting into plenty of adventures, more often than not rooted in their being overly cautious of the feelings of the other family members. Mindfulness has always been key to the show, and the Season 3 premiere is no different. The episode finds Wolf and Honeybee stuck on the side of the road with car trouble, so they take refuge in the nearby Crocodile Rob’s, an Australian-themed restaurant that looks like a cross between a Rainforest Café and Outback Steakhouse, or as Honeybee describes it, “It’s like if Huge Jackman was a bar.” Wolf has mixed feelings about it at first, as Crocodile Rob’s is on the list of places Beef has designated as a “Tobins No Goins” place due to past drunken incidents involving the family’s estranged mother, Kathleen.
The couple soon finds out that Crocodile Rob’s is actually friggin’ awesome, which leads to several musical numbers featuring flying kangaroos and dancing fried appetizers throughout the episode. When the other Tobin siblings join in on the down under fun, they realize that the shame that often followed their mom isn’t theirs to carry around, and they could enjoy themselves even if they are still concerned about hurting Beef’s feelings. When Beef does find out, he looks deep within himself to admit that he did have some good memories at those places with Kathleen, but that sometimes good memories are more painful. These realizations are written with such care to the point of being therapeutic.
While the show doesn’t seem to get the same amount of love as its sister show Bob’s Burgers, we’re lucky that Fox believes in The Great North enough to have already greenlit Season 4. Its writing is sensitive, thoughtful, and hilarious, the animation is vibrant, and the songs and dance numbers always contain a number of fun visual gags. This type of cozy show, the animated family comedy with a heart of gold, is nourishing to the soul. It’s what so many of us need in life.
Jack Probst is a writer and record collector from St. Louis. He appreciates the works of James Murphy, Wes Anderson, and Super Mario. Send any and all complaints to @jackdprobst on Twitter. He enjoys writing paragraphs about himself in his spare time.