Review: My Dad the Bounty Hunter

My Dad the Bounty Hunter is a computer animated science fiction adventure children’s series on Netflix. Created by Everett Downing Jr. and Patrick Harpin, the show tells the story of a family navigating the trials and tribulations of the parents undergoing a trial separation with the kids trying to figure out who they are individually as a family amid this new dynamic. Terry, the father played by Laz Alonso, very much loves his kids, Lisa (Priah Ferguson) and Sean (JeCobi Swain), and his wife, Tess (Yvonne Orji), but has put his job and pursuit of success before his family for some time to the point of estrangement from his wife and kids.

The show begins with Tess dropping off the kids with Terry to spend time with them and to celebrate Sean’s birthday over the weekend. Terry’s bachelor pad is exactly the stereotypical single father home: unkempt, messy, no fresh food, barely room for everyone, etc. His relationships with his children are complicated at best, suffering under his choices in actuality. After a tense Chinese takeout dinner and non-watching of a movie, Terry’s employers inform him that they have a time sensitive job that needs to be done immediately but of which the payout will be substantial. Believing he must take the job, Terry leaves his kids with his mother and goes off to complete the sudden work order to the anger and annoyance of his children. Unsatisfied with this development, Lisa and Sean hitch a ride in their dad’s car to join him on his job. Here the kids learn the truth: their father, Terry, is an intergalactic bounty hunter who runs around the universe finding and catching aliens. From there, we get the real gist and premise of the series with, due to some humorous shenanigans, Terry and the kids stranded in space and having to complete the bounty to be able to find a way home.

Really, you should watch the show for the great animation and soundtrack, if nothing else. Show is thankfully good though.

The story continues spanning ten episodes as the family has adventures, miscommunications, misunderstandings, and all the classic tropes and sequences that accompany a family oriented cartoon. The computer animation is fantastic. The humor is purposeful and actually hits when intended with laughs for both children and adults (as all great, classic cartoons had). The music is on of the highlights. And the entire series is backed by an impressive cast. Truly it is a great new series that manages complex situations and conversations in a heartfelt, mature manner understandable by children and adults while also being great representation without being a bludgeon that ends up lackluster.

Genuinely, the family is Black and while that influences their character design, arcs, and narrative choices, it is not the sole defining trait of their characters. Sean is a nerdy, anxious, child who loves computers and dogs. These traits prove helpful in key moments when dealing with crises and certain enemies. Lisa is a whip smart, athletic, young girl whose stubbornness and entrepreneurship drive get her into trouble, much like her father. Terry and Tess are fully developed characters in their own right who love one another and their kids but have different priorities and perspectives based on their own individual upbringings and backgrounds. We witness these traits and development through the ten episodes of the show understanding and empathizing with each character even when we might disagree with their choices and actions.

Furthermore, the rotating cast of supporting characters are also given decent screen time for humor and development as they aid the main three in their adventures. From KRS, Terry’s robotic assistant (voiced by Yvette Nicole Brown) to Glorlox, Terry’s former business partner (voiced by Rob Riggle), and his entire crew, the supporting characters add dimension and depth to the main cast’s stories and backgrounds and character arcs. As well, the show does address some rather big ideas like corporate greed and the negative effects of capitalism, how far a single individual can go in making a difference, the conflict between personal and community responsibility, and many more. Yet, it does this without losing the humor and engagement of its intended audience. In essence, it gives concrete social messages with clear intentions and positions without feeling a Saturday morning cartoon PSA.

That there is not already a line of toys based on these character or the Chillas tells me how unserious a company Netflix is.

So, if you are looking for a new animated series to check out, My Dad the Bounty Hunter is one well worth the time and investment. Plus, with the short run time per episode, you could easily knock it out in a day or two. Though, I imagine your kids might want a few repeat viewings.

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