The Daily Stream: Underseen Gem YOLO: Crystal Fantasy Is The Animated BFFs Series You Never Knew You Needed

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Show: "YOLO: Crystal Fantasy" (2022)

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

The Pitch: Quick question, have you heard of "Smiling Friends"? The Adult Swim animated comedy totally swept the scene in 2022 (and even garnered a second season order, thankfully), and one-half of the creative team on that project is responsible for "YOLO: Crystal Fantasy." Michael Cusack's animated series — which was created prior to his "Smiling Friends" collaboration with Zach Hadel — follows two best friends, Sarah and Rachel, who live in a fictionalized version of Wollongong, Australia. By night, they take the city by storm and party their asses off, and by day, well, they nurse their hangovers, learn from their mistakes, and go on all kinds of wild and wacky surrealist adventures. Sounds like fun, right? It's more than fun, it's a total blast.

Why its essential viewing

The thing that makes "YOLO" so exciting is the way it portrays female friendships. It's not as though we don't already have a treasure trove of media related to how women connect platonically, but "YOLO" expounds upon that inquiry for a new generation. It highlights the sometimes transactional and selfish nature of these kinds of bonds but is equally as strong in the way it reminds us how crucial they are in a life well and happily lived. There will always be crappy times in friendships, and "YOLO" is full of those in both serious and not-so-serious ways. But there will also always be moments that make those crappy times obsolete—and that's a major strong point in this series because the heart of friendship (which is, for all intents and purposes, love itself) is always at the forefront in this weird little show.

The show is blessed with a very unique animation style thanks to Cusack, and that is a hook in and of itself. Adult animation is so commonplace as a medium nowadays, so having something very unique visually is always an excellent calling card for drawing folks in. Getting them to stay lies in the plot and characters, but the wild adventures and deeply specific (Australian) humor keeps you invested. It has an intriguing plot and compelling characters in spades. All of these elements, plus a well-structured and presented emotional through-line? It's not hard to see why Adult Swim took a chance on Cusack's strange project. It's a real gem.

Creator experiments gone good

This adult animation entry has only one season so far consisting of ten ten-minute episodes, so it's really easy to take it all in and, at the same time, catch up for season 2, retitled "YOLO: Silver Destiny," coming next month. It just might be the breath of fresh air you need going into 2023. It's good to see really smart creators — especially the ones like Cusack, and even his "Smiling Friends" partner-in-crime Hadel — who have put themselves out there through platforms like YouTube get larger studio budgets to pull off their weird and wild experiments. If nothing else, this one will surely help start your year off with some huge (and cathartic) laughs.

"YOLO: Silver Destiny" will premiere on Adult Swim on January 22, 2023, with new episodes being added to HBO Max the following day throughout the season.