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Craving a New Cozy Show? You Should Be Watching The Great North

An animated family walks through a snowy woods in a scene from The Great North

When The Great North first premiered on Fox back in January of 2021, I’ll admit it took me a while to really get into it. But, as I’m realizing as I now make my way through the show for the third time, that was entirely on me.

What made me so excited for the show was that it was co-created by Bob’s Burgers head writers Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin (along with Regular Show‘s Minty Lewis) and co-executive produced by Loren Bouchard, the creator of Bob’s Burgers. Being a Fox animated show about a close-knit family, coming from that team, I think I was expecting something akin to a Bob’s Burgers spin-off in tone.

And while the shows do have a lot of similarities (including a child clad in an animal costume), that’s not what this is. The humor hits in similar ways, with jokes that are simultaneously very silly and dryly understated, but everything feels a bit more slowed down, down to show’s the more muted color palette—all of which is absolutely fitting, considering the show’s setting of remote rural Alaska.

The two shows were similar enough that on my first watch, I found the differences jarring and gave up after a few episodes. It wasn’t until months later that I went back to it and I’m so glad I did. Because once I got over my own self-contrived expectations of what it wasn’t, I could appreciate how fantastically hilarious and brilliant the show actually is.

The Great North centers on the Tobin family, headed up by Beef, a stoic but incredibly loving fisherman and single dad voiced by Nick Offerman. His kids are Wolf (Will Forte), who lives in the guest house with his fiancée Honeybee (Dulcé Sloan), teens Ham (Paul Rust) and Judy (Jenny Slate), and young Moon (Aparna Nancherla). They deal with normal sitcom family issues (Judy or Ham testing a new interest, Wolf having to balance his existing family life with his new life with Honeybee, etc.), as well as plenty of more caper-y plotlines worthy of an Alaskan-set animated show.

Judy also has an imaginary friend in the form of Alanis Morrisette, played by actual Alanis Morrisette, who appears in the sky to give her life advice. So yes, there’s a solid balance of fairly traditional sitcom plots and more fantastical elements.

Much of the show’s conflict revolves around fears of growing apart from the rest of the family or disappointing them but spoiler: no one is ever very disappointed and while everyone grows, it’s never apart. This family’s bond is the basis of the entire show, and kindness is the point. These kids are as emotionally supported as they are weird and they are all eccentrically, uniquely, delightfully weird.

The show is incredibly sweet but never feels saccharine, possibly because it’s steeped in such profound sincerity and roots even its more absurd humor in straightforward, often dry delivery.

If you’re a Bob’s Burgers fan and you’re not yet watching The Great North, it’s definitely time to dive in—just make sure you set aside your expectations first if you’re wanting a BB clone. The show just recently aired its second season finale and it’s been renewed for a third.

And if you’re not already a Bob’s Burger’s fan, congratulations, you have 12 seasons of one of the best shows on television currently (and soon a film) waiting for you.

(image: 20th Television/Fox Media)
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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.