‘Our Cartoon President’ Finds the Line for Trump’s First Term
According to “Our Cartoon President,” everyone voted for Donald Trump, and the ones who didn’t were actually curious to see what would happen if he did get into office. Well, it happened, and then some. The president crossed lines no world leader would touch. Why, just this week, he made headlines with the words “pornstar,” “shithole” and “cognitive function.” Trump’s brain has great bone structure and his IQ is 180 over 90. This has been verified by Stephen Colbert, Chris Licht, Matt Lapin, Tim Luecke, and R.J. Fried, who created “Our Cartoon President” as a recurring segment for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Bringing the series to Showtime as a half hour weekly show means more freedom than the networks afford.
The pilot episode focuses on the first State of the Union Address. The president knows he’s low in the polls, but figures he’ll make it up in ratings. He may not have the won the hearts and minds of the American people, so he understands how important it is that his address be the greatest in known history. In the lead-up to the broadcast, pundits wonder whether the president will embrace Washington or take a 20 minute call from Carl Icahn. Sadly, the address wasn’t quite as funny, or ironic, as the real speech Trump made on the last Tuesday of January this year.
Jeff Bergman, as Donald Trump, turns from Alec Baldwin’s manically hyperbolic approach to the impersonation towards a more subtle and nuanced spoof. The Trump character openly worries whether the show will humanize the man in the White House, which does indeed make him seem more human. But not quite as much as First Lady Melania Trump, voiced by Cody Linquist, does. She is the moral center of the series, missing New York City but quite willing to caw as the newly appointed national bird. Trump’s two sons, Don Jr. and Eric, come off like Nathan and Mimsy from “South Park.” They’re not too bright, but that doesn’t stand in the way of delivering on their father’s expectations, which are low.
The series lampoons both sides of the political aisle. Democrats look like seagulls fighting over a Cheeto in the sand. Republicans want to ride the tide of Caucasian might to make the waters red with the blood of the irredeemably unemployed. The GOP gets the most play, because they won the game of musical chairs in the Oval Office. Every character is spoofed broadly, but Ted Cruz (James Adomian) is afforded special treatment. This is because Cruz has special needs, like having to learn to use toothpaste and a tooth brush at the same time. Zach Cherry sleeps through his role as Ben Carson, bringing more excitement than the former presidential candidate did to any stump speech.
The flash animation is a little cheesy for a half hour series, but the joke ratio is quite high. Almost every line is a laugh-line. The set ups seem predictable, but many of the payoffs skewer expectations enough to bring added levels of wit. The majority of the humor goes for the broad side, but small details, like the Democrats accepting a toss off of the word “progressive” as a major political win, bring balance.
Ultimately, “Our Cartoon President” is a fish-out-of-water family sitcom. Hillary Clinton didn’t go to Wisconsin during the elections, so the Trumps are stuck in Washington for four years, maybe twice that, if President Trump wins reelection. After all, his State of the Union address was so successful he was asked to do it again next year.
“Our Cartoon President” debuts Feb. 11 and airs Sundays on Showtime at 8 p.m. ET.