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Smiling Friends





Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

Head on down to the massive building shaped like a smiley face, and you’ll find yourselves in good, or at least smiling, company.

Smiling Friends is a charity with the goal of helping people smile and generally making the world a better place. You call them, and they’ll send representatives to your home to do everything in their power to make you happy.

Two of those representatives, Charlie and Pip, never quite know what to expect on these calls. Perhaps someone just needs a temporary friend. They could help a man convince his ex-girlfriend to give him a second chance. They might even be appointed to cheer up the President of the United States.

It’s a job that’s just full of smiles and laughs.

Until, of course, it isn’t. Because some of these jobs can get pretty dark.

Showing Those Pearly Whites

Take the first episode, for instance. Charlie and Pim are tasked with “cheering up” a fellow named Desmond. And when they first encounter the man, he’s got a revolver pressed against his head and threatens to kill himself if they can’t resolve his depression.

“Are the best parts of life really just finding momentary distractions to keep yourself busy, so you don’t think about the harsh realities of life for a second?” Desmond asks. “I can ride roller coasters, meet new friends and spend time with my family all day long. It doesn’t change the fact that the sun is just gonna explode, and all this was for nothing.”

Sure, Charlie and Pim eventually manage to stumble into a way to find Desmond purpose. But it just goes to show that, sometimes, the job is nice and easy—and other times, like when Charlie has to cheer up the devil himself, it can be draining.

Putting the Dope in Dopamine

In the first scene of Smiling Friends, we find Charlie and Pim in the break room, watching a Claymation alien figure sing gibberish while it dances.

No better introduction has ever summarized how your viewing experience will be.

Smiling Friends is often a program full of chaotic gibberish. In one episode, Charlie is rescued from hell by the literal hand of God. In another, characters randomly jump-scare the camera. In a third, a TV personality known as Mr. Frog eats a man alive.

Yes, the plot of this show veers about as much as its varying animation styles do, from 2D to rotoscope to real-life cameos. And that plot can swerve into some unsavory moments.

People are often injured or die while the charity workers are on the job. And when they do die, it’s almost always in a gruesome way as their cartoony blood and guts spray out for all to see. Characters sometimes appear nude, though their critical bits are always behind a pixelated censor. And heavy swearing is common, too.

All that to say, Smiling Friends may just make you frown.

(Editor’s Note: Plugged In is rarely able to watch every episode of a given series for review. As such, there’s always a chance that you might see a problem that we didn’t. If you notice content that you feel should be included in our review, send us an email at [email protected], or contact us via Facebook or Instagram, and be sure to let us know the episode number, title and season so that we can check it out.)

Episode Reviews

Apr. 1, 2020 – S1, E1: “Desmond’s Big Day Out”

Charlie and Pim are assigned to help bring a smile to Desmond’s face, a man who is only moments away from killing himself.

Desmond, in a shirt and boxers, holds a revolver to his temple throughout the episode and resolves to commit suicide in front of Charlie and Pim if they can’t make him happy. Eventually, Desmond fires the weapon at a tiny pest-like creature called a Bliblie, splattering its blood everywhere. Other instances of this creature are seen being stabbed, shot, smashed and burned. A man is crucified by the Bliblies and stabbed in the side with a spear.

A baby “breastfeeds” on a man’s censored breast. Pim, excited to help a child feel better, screams “I love kids,” causing Charlie to grow concerned someone might take such a statement the wrong way.

A man vomits. A woman says that she genuinely hates Pim, and Pim’s family gets into a loud argument. Someone drinks wine, and a man vapes.

The censored f-word is used five times. The s-word is used once. God’s name is used in vain twice. Jesus’ name is used in vain once. The British “bloody” is used twice.

Apr. 1, 2024 – S2, E1: “Gwimbly: Definitive Remastered Enhanced Extended Edition DX 4k (Anniversary Director’s Cut)”

Pim bumps into the star of an old video game he used to play, who’s now homeless and down on his luck. He resolves to help the man get back on his feet.

A man hits a woman. A man rips off Charlie’s nose. A man gets stabbed in the head and bleeds to death. A man shoots a gun.

Gwimbly, the video game’s main character, pours a beer on a friend’s grave and comments on the fentanyl crisis.

A man sprays Gwimbly with a hose. A man vomits.

The uncensored f-word is used three times, and the s-word is heard twice. We also hear “a–” and “d–n.” God’s name is used in vain four times, including once in the form of “g-dd–n.” Someone is told to “go to hell.”

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Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He thinks the ending of Lost “wasn’t that bad.”

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