Yes, Season 3 of ‘Tuca and Bertie’ Is Still Worth a Watch
I had no idea that there even was a third season of Tuca and Bertie until our own Princess Weekes wrote an article about the first two episodes. Immediately, I had a cartoon moment and skedaddled to the TV so I could get all caught up.
And my takeaway was that this was the best season thus far! High praise, for a show whose prior seasons already raised the bar for animation (in my opinion, at least). And I was so excited to write about my favorite things about this season, and what made it my favorite, until I saw the news.
If you haven’t heard yet, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but voice actress Tiffany Haddish (Tuca) is currently facing charges of child sexual abuse for sketches she took part in. The sketches involved putting two children (whose names are undisclosed) in highly sexualized and deliberately perverse situations for “comedic” purposes. Haddish’s partner in the sketch, comedian Aries Spears, played the part of a pedophile, and the children—siblings in real life—were separated and stripped for their various roles. The youngest was seven when it occurred.
Buzzfeed News goes further into detail about what exactly occurred in these sketches. I’m going to refrain from speaking on them, not just because I find this whole situation disgusting, but because I don’t want to further sensationalize an already horrific situation. Haddish’s attorney has tried to minimize what’s going on as a publicity stunt that’s been going on for years, but the fact of the matter is that two children who trusted Haddish were put in situations where they were forced to do sexual things without proper supervision or care. And even if the molestation was “simulated,” it’s still very real in the eyes of those who are being affected, and we need to honor those consequences above all else.
Ultimately, Haddish had this to say about the situation:
Seems like this is as much as we’re going to get at the moment. I take heart in the fact that she’s seemingly cognizant of her mistakes, and ultimately, what matters to me most is the plaintiffs getting their due, so hopefully that’s the current trajectory of things.
In regards to Tuca and Bertie, though, without making this transition sound callous … I do want to stress that there’s two things that can exist at once. Tiffany Haddish did a deeply hurtful thing that she needs to answer for. AND, Season 3 of Tuca and Bertie is really really good, and you should still watch it.
No, this doesn’t mean doubting the victims or making self-indulgent claims in order to justify your viewing. I think there are some cases where you can freely separate the art from the artist, and this is one of them. Tuca and Bertie is a labor of love put together by multiple talented people, especially Lisa Hanawalt, the show’s creator. It’s a very consciously uplifting show that’s meant to create a space for women and queer folks who don’t otherwise have a space for the sort of dialogue that transpires on the show.
On this season alone, we go through all sorts of things that I find really incredible:
- Tuca’s severe period pains are given an entire episode, and as someone with chronic menstrual pain that impacts my daily life, I found this episode incredibly validating. Health care in the US SUUUUUCKS. Getting proper help is a bitch, and at a certain point, it feels more affirming to have the people around you accept you for who you are than continue to be told that “losing ten pounds” is the cure-all for your pain. Because lemme tell ya, just like Tuca, when I was ten pounds lighter, the pain was still there!
- The episode where Bertie goes back in her memories to make sense of her wild adolescence felt really incredible to watch, because we’re often told to just leave the past in the past, while ignoring the real feelings that linger afterwards. Bertie had a messed up childhood, and there were things that happened in her teen years that really affected her. Having a friend like Tuca guide her through those things in a healing, accepting way made me feel better about my “creepy birdy years.” And in the end, the person Bertie was so worried about upsetting ended up being a jerk anyways.
- Watching Tuca’s rebound process, not just from Kara but her new beau Figgy, was a really heartening thing to see. We’re often told that in order to move on from a relationship, we have to either focus entirely on the self, or get out there and hoe around. But the truth is, there’s no right way to do it–and Tuca learned that after a locker-room hookup went wrong, and she started crying all over the damn place. Shit’s messy! And it’s supposed to be! On the flip side though, she was able to help a bunch of old horny ladies finally get it on after years of believing they couldn’t anymore. Yay (?)!
- Speckle making it clear that he just sometimes gets depressed, and that Bertie just needs to trust he’ll snap out of it, was something I really, really appreciated. We live in such a “fix it now!!!” culture that sometimes we forget, being alive is messy and sometimes people feel weird about it and that’s not a bad thing. Yes, it can become a bad thing if we get too lost in the sauce (re: Figgy’s alcoholism), but we also need to trust and respect our loved ones when they tell us what they need. UGH, the COMMUNICATION this season…!
- And more that I’m probably forgetting!
And even aside from all the harder-hitting points, it was just such a visually and comedically delightful season to watch. Little Niece Tulip was adorable, Speckle’s little animation quirks cracked me up, and all the random animals of the city (ESPECIALLY the boat ducks) were absolutely delightful to behold.
Yes, the information surrounding this lawsuit is really disappointing and upsetting. I’m a longtime fan of Haddish who even understands that her actions (or inaction, rather) might stem from her own childhood trauma, so I feel especially sad about all of this. But I don’t think the lawsuit should stop people from enjoying this show. It’s a beautiful show that’s full of so much hope and positivity, and I think the most responsible way to go about enjoying it is to go into it without lambasting the victims in any way, shape, or form. It takes bravery to come forward about these things—just like Bertie did, remember?
So, try to be wise about how you approach this situation, and don’t let it stop you from watching and supporting this show. I hope it brings you as much joy and healing as it brought me.
(Featured Image: Adult Swim)
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