WATCH: From bedbugs to pigeons, New York's despised vermin have rich inner lives on HBO's "Animals"

The dark and funny lives of New York's vermin and other animals come to life in a new HBO show

Alli Joseph
March 17, 2017 4:00AM (UTC)

The HBO show "Animals" is dark, eccentric and funny. And if you know New York City, you'll really get a kick out of the locations the talented creators Phil Materese and Mike Luciano draw as a backdrop to the conversations of the vermin and other animals they draw. The two met when they were working in a New York production company and, in boring moments, started imagining what the pigeons roosting outside on a ledge would say if they spoke English.

"We had a window and there were these pigeons outside of it and we started doing these voices that made us laugh... it was a regular conversation, and it seemed like a a funny way to look into the lives of these animals around the city," said co-creator Luciano. "What really got it going was Phil was doing some illustration and drawing and making these cool little black and white drawings. And he was like, 'wanna try to do some animation to that?'"


This got the pair started and they began to sketch out what would, after a serious of film festival wins and notice by the executive producing Duplass brothers, become "Animals." "That set in motion this aesthetic of dreary New York City and imagining theses little animals in the nooks and crannies that we don't normally think about what their lives are like," said Luciano. "It just became this fun way to jump in and tell these individual stories. That's what our show ended up becoming. Each episode is kind of like a little movie - so it's a a half hour look into [their lives]."

It takes nine months of working in tandem on 10 episodes with at least 40 illustrators in Los Angeles to create a season. "When we were thinking of the structure of the show, and how we would make it a half hour show, and how we wanted the world to be, we knew we didn't want it to just be a sketch show, where every episode lived completely on its own," Materese said.  "So, we have a nonspeaking human story line thru season one about this guy the mayor, and this political drama, and a handsome politician and his wife's involved, but it's completely nonspeaking, and they speak in sort-of gibberish, like Sims sort of voice."

The nonspeaking characters tie the stories together, said the creators. "It's just a nice little thread that connects all ten of the episodes, and tells a story to serialize each season and reward viewers who come back," said Materese.  "Animals'" second season premieres Friday, March 17 on HBO.




Alli Joseph

Alli Joseph is a writer/producer and family historian; a Native New Yorker, she is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

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Animals Hbo Mike Luciano Original Video Phil Materese Television Vermin

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