Good news, everyone! Futurama is back (again).
Season 11 of the sci-fi cartoon premieres today, returning to Hulu in the US (and Disney+ elsewhere) after a 10-year hiatus. Given the amount of time that has passed, it’s only natural to wonder if the show could pick up where it left off and be as relevant today as it was a decade ago, but don’t worry. The new episodes successfully reboot the show in 3023 – it’s still 1,000 years in the future – with all the vigor it had when it was canceled (for the second time) in 2013.
Futurama its beginning almost a quarter of a century ago, in 1999, it stepped out of the shadows The Simpsons. It started with four excellent seasons, including several award-winning episodes like “Roswell That Ends Well” and “Godfellas.” While the main characters, Philip J. Fry (voiced by Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal), deliver a lot of hilarious one-liners, the most popular character is probably the foul-mouthed beer-drinking robot Bender (John DiMaggio). For newcomers, the premise of the show is that Fry was a pizza delivery boy on New Year’s Eve 1999 when he was accidentally cryogenically frozen for a whole millennium. The new season begins after time has stopped for several years, and Professor Farnsworth (also voiced by West) somehow reboots the universe, allowing everyone to seamlessly pick up where they left off. “We’re back baby!” Bender exclaims as he lights a cigar.
The show has now been canceled and revived several times, and is repeatedly mocked for it in the new season — like when the characters convince the managers of the “Fula” (which are robots) to bring back the canceled robot soap opera that Fry loved. They help him survive many seasons by surrounding him Dune– stylish filter dresses which feeds him, recycles his waste, and contains a helmet that drills into his skull. Bender himself wrote a few episodes of the show, but they aren’t very good – it seems that even 1000 years from now, AI still can’t write well. It feels like a classic to me Futurama– a nod to science fiction of yesteryear, but totally au courant.
And to think it almost didn’t happen. Last year, with the new season coming up, DiMaggio stepped down Futurama revival, waiting for a higher salary for the entire cast. (TV a video game voice actors (long claimed they were underpaid.) Producers threatened to replace his voice, prompting a backlash from fans under hashtag #BenderGate. Eventually the matter was resolved and he returned to the role.
Created by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, Futurama started before Y2K, smartphones, social media, artificial intelligence—and also before animated space comedies like Rick and Morty and Star Trek: The Lower Deckson which new seasons are now ready. Futurama is less dark than Rick and Morty and less bound to science than Star Trekbut it is easy to see how their influences overlap and how their existence has multiplied the popularity of animated science fiction.
Futurama it also references 2020 more than any of those shows. His Twilight Zone-as the show-within-a-show now nods Black mirror, and there’s an episode about Bitcoin that comes with crypto scams and lost money. It also involves a server farm, complete with an ethical conundrum: It raises concerns not only about energy consumption and carbon footprint, but about the robot heads that power it. Other episodes include a Covid-like outbreak, the use of Ivermectin (but for deworming), the “cancellation” of a main character, and 3D printing.