CENTRAL PARK Season 1: Close To My Heart, Closer To My Funnybone

Central Park, as a show, goes down like a Manhattan. Straight-up and smooth, so quintessentially New York and guaranteed to show you a good time when binged with reckless abandon. Cheers to an absolutely fabulous series!

Central Park is created by Loren Bouchard (who you all know and love from Bob’s Burgers), Nora Smith, and Josh Gad (yeah, Frozen’s very own lovable snowman). The series had originally been intended for Fox but was rehomed to Apple TV+. The series boasts a fabulous, star-studded ensemble including Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Kathryn Hahn, Stanley Tucci, Josh Gad, Daveed Diggs, and Leslie Odom Jr.

CENTRAL PARK Season 1: Close To My Heart, Closer To My Funnybone
Central Park (2020) – source: Apple TV+

The animated musical comedy delights with the day-to-day shenanigans of the Tillerman family. Owen Tillerman (Leslie Odom Jr.) is the chief caretaker and manager of New York City’s famous Central Park and his wife, Paige (Kathryn Hahn) is a firecracker journalist. Kristen Bell and Tituss Burgess lend their voices to the Tillerman children Molly, a comic book artist and hopeless romantic, and Cole, the sensitive and animal loving type. By unusual circumstance, the family ends up having to rescue the park from an evil hotel heiress (hilariously voiced by Stanley Tucci) who wants to destroy the park and use it for real estate development.

Comparing Cartoon Comedy

It’s only natural to want to compare Central Park to its beloved spiritual sibling, Bob’s Burgers. Both share a quirky sense of humor, a penchant for musical numbers, and a cast of charming characters. There are a lot of positives that the two shows have in common and I’d say it’s a safe bet that fans of Bob’s Burgers will adore Central Park just as much.

In terms of where they differ, there’s a crudeness and simplicity to Bob’s Burgers that Central Park smooths over and adds a pinch more sophistication to. The first show walked so that Central Park could skip and sing.

CENTRAL PARK Season 1: Close To My Heart, Closer To My Funnybone
Central Park (2020) – source: Apple TV+

Musically, Central Park goes leagues beyond Bob’s Burgers. The arrangements are more akin to a true movie musical or Broadway show and don’t come across at all as silly ditties. As was expected, Leslie Odom Jr. brings his Hamilton chops to bear. Josh Gad channels the whimsical fun of some of his most popular characters and Kristin Bell moved this critic to tears with a show-stopping number in Central Park’s second episode. This puts Central Park in the potential position to reach beyond its expected demographic. It’s incredibly well done!

Central Park Goes Straight For The Heart

This series has a great deal of heart and buckets of wit. While its simplistic plotlines of teen love, a boy and his dog, and day-to-day parenting and professional challenges for the adults are typical of a sitcom, Central Park approaches these delicately and thoughtfully.

In particular, the portrayal of Molly (voiced by Kristen Bell) is especially compelling. A shy teen that builds her confidence through comic book drawings, as she struggles with friendship and love, is one of the best and most authentically written child characters in recent memory. For those of us who have entered into puberty and lived to tell about it, it’s a soft and nostalgic trip down memory lane. For a younger viewer, Molly is sure to land as an inspiration.

CENTRAL PARK Season 1: Close To My Heart, Closer To My Funnybone
Central Park (2020) – source: Apple TV+

Central Park is just as effective in its handling of larger narrative themes. Critique of wealth, environmental concerns, and even brief, but hilarious asides about local government versus private power; Central Park goes all in! The show deftly weaves these more powerful dialogues into the whimsy of the story without ever risking the show’s good humor and lightness. Always on point, never preachy.

Top Tier Talent

Of course, what absolutely makes this show is its amazing cast. Stanley Tucci and Daveed Diggs are the duo I never knew I needed in their hilarious pairing as Bitsy and Helen, the tycoon and her weary maid. Titus Burgess and Kristin Bell are another match made in animated heaven as a truly sweet sibling pair. As far as Kathryn Hahn goes… well, she’s just perfect in everything she’s in. Any worries surrounding some of the early casting controversies can be put to bed, this ensemble is one in a million and thoughtfully assembled.

Central Park is endearing and laugh-out-loud funny. When you’re not singing along, you’re in stitches and hooked for every second. Welcome to your new favorite animated series.

Are you a fan of Bob’s Burgers, looking forward to Central Park? Let us know in the comments!

Central Park will debut on Apple TV+ on May 29, 2020.

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