The Daily Stream: Frisky Dingo Is A Bizarre Animated Comedy That Possibly Predicted The Future

(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 series: "Frisky Dingo"

Where you can stream it: HBO Max and (with a cable login)

The pitch: Before going on to make the wildly popular spy spoof series "Archer" on FX, Adam Reed teamed up his "Sealab 2021" co-creator Matt Thompson to create "Frisky Dingo," a bizarre animated comedy spoofing superheroes and villains, American politics, and celebrity culture. A warning: the series debuted on Adult Swim in 2006, airing late at night, and it did just about everything possible to push the envelope, so some of the jokes have aged pretty poorly. However, if you can look past a few gags that absolutely wouldn't fly in 2022 (and for good reason), "Frisky Dingo" is a wildly funny and oddly prescient little cartoon, delivered in perfectly timed, bite-sized episodes. 

"Frisky Dingo" centers around Killface (Adam Reed), a bright white, hairless, claw-footed evil alien bent on destroying the world with his doomsday device, The Annihilatrix. The only people who can stop him are billionaire tycoon Xander Crews (also Reed) and his robot-suit-wearing superhero team, the Xtacles. The first season focuses on Killface's attempt to destroy the world, while the second follows his run for president after the Annihilatrix ends up making him an accidental hero. The show's political humor was funny in 2007, but it all hits very different in 2022. Now it's not just funny, it's surprisingly prophetic in retrospect, contrasting perfectly with absurd jokes about "Bilbo T. Baggins" and people being turned into giant crabs. 

Why it's essential viewing

Before Vine and TikTok helped shorten our attention spans to almost nothing, "Frisky Dingo" had the same mile-a-minute pacing that made it incredibly rewatchable. There are jokes everywhere, and Reed would hone his ability to create a good meme-able joke throughout the show's short run. Fans of "Archer" will be able to see the foundations of that show's main character, Sterling Archer, in Crews, a vainglorious rich boy obsessed with action movies. He's responsible for many of the show's catch-phrases, like "Boosh!," though the series is ridiculously quotable. It's a filthy, ludicrous, edgy proto-"Archer" that helped shape the lexicon of my college friends. The series' love for pop culture references and shockingly realistic dialogue in bizarre situations mean that it's a very specific brand of humor, but it's strangely addictive and hard not to love once you're on board. 

Most of the references come from action movies, but many of them are weird deep cuts. A character re-enacts a Chris Penn scene from "True Romance," then later recites more of his lines from that movie. Taqu'il (Killer Mike), a rapper running for vice president on Killface's presidential ticket, declines to join a duck hunt because "two words: 'Surviving the Game' and 'Deliverance.'" Someone almost gets shot because they suddenly remember the name of "The Edge" with Anthony Hopkins and yell it out during said duck hunt. It's a feast of jokes and references for fans of action cinema and superhero cartoons. 

Irreverent and prescient

What makes "Frisky Dingo" so wild to watch in 2022 is the number of weird things that it predicted or made jokes about that would become much bigger issues with time. Global warming is a huge part of the season 2 plot, along with runs for the presidency from both Killface and Xander Crews. There are jokes about right-wing racists, the ethics of Iron Man-style suits and leaving them where other people can find them, and so much more. Perhaps the nuttiest thing is that Taqu'il, the rapper who runs for vice president, ends up in a world of trouble when he releases an album called "The Ballocaust," with album art featuring Nazi imagery. He also becomes obsessed with NASCAR and becomes progressively more conservative and extreme... I'm not going to say they predicted Kanye, but either way, it's bizarre in retrospect.

The series pretty regularly skewers some of the more absurd conservative talking points, like the idea that soy can make people more effeminate, but it's never preachy or pointed. It's a ridiculous series that gets weirder as it goes and continues to rely upon its callback humor structure, but it's also surprisingly smart in some truly surreal ways. If you want a slice of mid-2000s adult animated cable TV, you could do a lot worse than "Frisky Dingo." It's smart, it's stupid, and it's wildly entertaining.