This Hot Streets Season 2 review contains no spoilers.
“Never forget what Hot Streets is really about…”
“It’s about solving cases, BYE!”
Television shows can sometimes get attacked for being “random” with their storytelling or comedy, but it’s actually quite difficult to be effectively random. There’s an art to surprising your audience with a complete left turn, yet one that’s not so disconnected or weird that it will alienate viewers.
The same can be said for parodies that take established structures and turn them on their head and breathe fresh life into traditional tropes. Many programs on Adult Swim follow this formula to some degree, but last year the first season of Hot Streets proved that it was particularly special.
It’s simultaneously brilliant and idiotic, but now that it’s been given a second season to grow, its unusual world becomes even more defined and the manic cartoon finds increasingly weirder sources of inspiration for its stories. Hot Streets is back and both fans and newcomers alike will fall in love with the show’s unique, warped sensibilities.
Hot Streets Season 2 doesn’t rock the boat much with its general structure, but it does introduce several new characters, including a new boss at Hot Streets, John Wayne Jet Wayne Jr. (Ernie Hudson!). There’s an extreme absurdity to this new boss, because he’s a freaking talking jet (who’s also 700 years old and can turn people into crystals). At that point, why not get as crazy as humanly jetly possible with everything? The season also not so subtly implies that there may be more to this new authority figure than meets the eye and that their former boss, Sue Park, may also not be totally out of the picture.
Mixing things up like this adds a new freshness to the series and illustrates that this is a fluid, changing show where actions have lasting consequences. Creatures like Fronch and Peenie Squeezie from the first season continue to stick around in a recurring capacity to further prove this point. Hot Streets displays an absolutely insane universe, but it’s one that explores the proper angles and aftermath of its decisions. One episode even functions as a de facto sequel to one of the first season’s most popular installments and could easily turn into a yearly tradition for the show.
Hot Streets still follows a basic supernatural case of the week format, but this season gets even more extravagant with its sci-fi and horror pastiches. There are clones, intergalactic cock fighting and chicken-based espionage, Grace Zabriskie as a smoking psychic shamer. This show even gets freaking David Hayter to do his Solid Snake voice for an evil pirate with supernatural cream powers, which is maybe the coolest sentence I’ve written all year. Hot Streets’ cases take Branski and company to the high seas, pocket dimensions, outer space, and more.
While the absurd cases are perhaps the best thing about Hot Streets, its diverse cast of characters are also still the perfect cocktail for ridiculousness. Chubbie Webbers’ manic nature beautifully plays off against Branski’s deadbeat, laconic rhythms and French’s hypochondriac demeanor. Justin Roiland just has too much fun voicing this show’s supporting cast. He makes even the most minor of characters stand out with his deliveries. It’s hard to not laugh at every single thing that Chubbie Webbers says.
This season also introduces some really intimidating villains (it’s weeks later, I’mstill laughing at the name and concept of “Creamy Zeus”). This season isn’t afraid to pull back the layers of some of its characters and it finds entertaining ways to explore their pasts. It’s a show that excels at being both deep and shallow. There’s a weird high stakes tone to the show’s nonsense.
Each episode fits a surprising amount into 11 minutes and at times I actually had to look at the runtime to be sure that these weren’t 22-minute installments. Episodes always find a way to go incredibly overboard in the final act and reach absolutely unpredictable places by the end. It’s a strong formula that the show knows how to use to its advantage. No two episodes feel the same, which is pretty incredible. That being said, there’s usually a wild shootout that takes place at some point.
Two seasons in, Hot Streets is only more comfortable with its storytelling and what it wants to be, which it demonstrates with the variety of episodes on display this year. It delivers the same chaos and nonsense as the first season, but in an even more precise and impressive manner. This show should absolutely stick to the episodic approach, but with how Hot Streets continues to evolve I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become increasingly serialized. Even this year there’s an underlying mystery throughout the season that occasionally rears its head.
Aesthetically, the series has a bit of a rough around the edges look to its animation, but it’s deliberate. There are certain sequences that are gorgeous and the show can achieve wild things with its animation, so it’s interesting to watch episodes keep these styles in flux. This year feels even more polished and confident than the first season and it takes even wilder risks with some of its insanity.Hot Streets is just fucking fun and I wish there were more episodes of this show to just binge through in the day.
Hot Streets remains such a fun, radical twist on police procedurals and outlandish sci-fi epics. It’s still very early in its lifespan, yet the show has clearly established its voice. Brian Wysol comes from Rick and Morty’s writers’ room, but as the wait for more episodes of that show continues, Hot Streets continue to prove that in many ways it’s a more precise version of what Ricky and Morty is doing.
Hot Streets Season 2 continues to prove that its first season was no fluke and that it should have no problem becoming one of Adult Swim’s signature programs. Even though the show defines parameters for its characters, this is still a series where it feels like anything is possible and that it’s so much more than a parody vehicle. Hot Streets is almost beyond genreand in a league of its own.
Season two of Hot Streets premieres Sunday, February 24that midnight, on Adult Swim
This review is based on three quarter-hour episodes from Hot Streets’ ten-episode second season
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.