What if a nerdy teenage girl learns that her father was from another planet and has to deal with the consequences? Human Kind Of answers that question in intriguing short animated episodes, as she learns about herself with help from her mom and friends.
Human Kind Of is an animated mature comedy web series, running for 21 episodes, ranging in length from 4 to 10 minutes. The show’s creator is Diana McCorry, a speculative fiction writer and sci-fi fan, who wrote Magical Girl Friendship Squad: Origins, the pilot series for Magical Girl Friendship Squad. Although Human Kind Of is a little-known series, it shines in its own way.
As a warning, this recommendation discusses some spoilers for Human Kind Of.
Human Kind Of centers around one character, Judy Reilly (voiced by Michelle Trachtenberg), her friend Cory (voiced by Kate Berlant), and her mom Iris (voiced by Jill Talley). There’s also Mr. Russo (voiced by Zak Orth), a biology teacher whose class Judy and Cory are in at high school. Orth also voices a number of other characters such as Ethan, Judy’s dad, and Eye Patch.
The story is primarily from Judy’s perspective as she struggles in high school as a half-alien, half-human girl. Supporting characters include The Man (voiced by Jeremy Bent), Melissa (voiced by Jamie Loftus), the GPS (voiced by McCorry), Callie (voiced by John Early), Mr. Jake (voiced by Early), Ms. Coward (voiced by Betsy Sodaro), and Hungry Alien (voiced by Sodaro).
Human Kind Of is a comedy from the get-go with hilarious bits mixed with blood and violence. This includes the period monster that comes out of Judy in the first episode. Unlike some other series, Human Kind Of is specifically animated, written, and created by women. That makes it different from other animated comedies like Ollie & Scoops and Milo Murphy’s Law, but similar in some respects to Magical Girl Friendship Squad, another animation by Cartuna which came out a few years ago.
From the first episode of Human Kind Of, you are thrown right into the action and easily become familiar with the characters. This is one of the strengths of the series, as there isn’t a long list of names to remember. The latter is something that the anime series Cue! and the comic book series Lumberjanes, to give two examples, suffer from.
Throughout Human Kind Of, Judy’s character develops from a nerdy student to someone who is more sure of herself in the world. This is despite the fact that by the end of the series, she is still learning more about herself. This makes the series intriguing despite its short length.
One aspect that pulled me into the series was the focus on child abandonment and a single-parent family. This is in contrast to the themes projected in animated series from Disney like Milo Murphy’s Law, Elena of Avalor, Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure, Phineas & Ferb, and Kim Possible, which show families as wholesome and without fault, with some characters even singing about it.
Human Kind Of is not alone in this focus. Some indie animations appear to have similar themes, like Ethan Becker’s Delinquents, which focuses on bad kids who live in an abusive household. Nothing like that would ever be seen anywhere near the Disney Channel or Disney+, at least not as an animated series. However, other series, like Twelve Forever, have featured single-parent families.
The theme of child abandonment is handled well, starting with Judy learning about her father. She is intrigued at first, then annoyed when he leaves her behind after he promises that she will be a planetary ambassador. At the end of the series, he returns and charms her. She goes with him, hoping things changed. It turns out, that he’s only using her to conduct a business deal so that Earth can be sold to scumbags. She is saved from her father thanks to the intervention by her mom, Cory, Mr. Russo, and others.
In contrast to her dad, her mother, Iris, is loving and supportive, even when Judy is at her lowest. When Mr. Russo, also from another planet, begins a relationship with Iris, he becomes Judy’s father of sorts, expanding her social safety net.
The sci-fi elements of Human Kind Of are intriguing. This goes beyond characters from other planets. In typical fashion, they meet men in black who track alien life, like those who appear in Kid Cosmic, 3Below, or Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths, and Legends, except these men are not as competent. Even their leader, only known as “The Man,” becomes Judy’s friend of sorts later on.
Although the series doesn’t include any outward LGBTQ characters, there are inferences you could make about the relationships that characters have with one another. There is a growing, yet rocky at times, connection between Judy and Cory, with Cory saying on various occasions that she loves Judy. However, this appears to be platonic love rather than romantic love. There is also an episode where a man buys 35 rings for his wife and his partners. So, LGBTQ people exist in this world but aren’t necessarily in the main cast.
Despite this, romance is a key part of the series. Judy has a crush on Ethan, trying to go out with him. Once he realizes she is part alien, he gets disgusted with her. She snaps, telling him that she is still figuring herself out and that he is a jerk for not accepting her for who she is. This is one of the many scenes in the series about self-acceptance. Judy continues to have feelings for him but never gets back together with him.
Friendship is a major theme in Human Kind Of. Judy and Cory are best friends and have a lot of chemistry together. Cory is the only one in school who thinks that it is cool that Judy is from a different planet. In one episode, they begin to split apart after Judy uses her shapeshifting power to be with the “cool kids” at school. She later reconciles and apologizes, showing that their friendship can weather any storm.
The show’s music, by Cody McCorry, who also composed music for Ghosts on the Coast, carries the series. The ending theme, for instance, is spooky and inviting at the same time. Other music fits with the mood of the series.
The animation of Human Kind Of is nothing on par with Arcane or Disenchantment, but it’s adequate enough to tell the story. If The Proud Family can have a decent story without much background details, then any story can do that.
The parts about Judy learning about her powers as half-alien/half-human, were fun. It made the series that much more enjoyable. During the course of the series, Judy learns she has powers like telepathy, mind-reading, and invisibility.
The episodes of Human Kind Of, which aired from September to October 2018, are directed by twins Joy Buran and Noelle Melody, the show’s animation directors. This series was their biggest production as they had only done animated shorts before this series.
Melody was also one of the show’s editors, along with Mike Parker. Adam and James Belfer were executive producers for the series. Belfer is the CEO of Cartuna, while Adam was a producer for shows such as Magical Girl Friendship Squad and Loafy.
McCorry wrote most of the episodes, sometimes alone, and other times with Daniel Shepard. Loftus, a stand-up comedian, was one of the show’s writers, as was Moujan Zolfaghari.
Shepard, another executive producer for the series, is well known for producing series like Liverspots and Astronuts and Magical Friendship Squad: Origins. Zolfaghari, an Iranian writer, actor, and voice-over artist is known for her acting roles in live-action comedy series. Human Kind Of appears to be the only animated series that Zolfaghari has been a part of.
The voice actors were one of the strong suits of the series. For Trachtenberg, this series was a major voice acting role. Berlant, whose mother is of Spanish and Cuban descent, and whose father is of Jewish heritage, is a more seasoned comedian and actress. She appeared in the 2018 film, Sorry to Bother You and the animated series BoJack Horseman.
Talley is just as well-known, appearing in more animated series than Trachtenberg, Berlant, or Orth. Furthermore, Bent, Early, and Sodaro voiced characters in Science! and Big City Greens.
Although Human Kind Of is still on Facebook Watch and its eighth episode was nominated for an Annie Award, it will likely never be renewed and will not return. Even though this streaming platform is still active, only two animated series, apart from Human Kind Of, specifically Liverspots and Astronots and Human Discoveries, have been added.
Both of these series have ended and were not renewed. Even if you argued that Facebook Watch is still offering “some good content,” as Farid asserted back in September 2018, none of that content currently includes animation.
This is unfortunate because it means similar to Cleopatra in Space and Magical Girl Friendship Squad, which are on the subpar Peacock streaming platform, Human Kind Of is stuck on Facebook Watch. It is on a platform that people would not typically look for animated series.
I’m not sure why the series wasn’t uploaded to YouTube instead, because it would thrive on there. I hope Human Kind Of is renewed someday for a second season because the first season ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. I would love to see it continue!
In the end, if you want to watch a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl/alien who is trying to figure herself out, with its absurdity and wacky storylines, then give Human Kind Of a try on Facebook Watch.
Author: Burkely Hermann
Burkely is an indexer of declassified documents by day and a fan fic writer by night. He recently earned a MLIS with a concentration in Digital Curation from the University of Maryland. He currently voraciously watches animated series and reads too many webcomics to count on Webtoon. He loves swimming, hiking, and searching his family roots in his spare time.
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