Tuca & Bertie

three birds driving a car





Lauren Cook

TV Series Review

Tuca and Bertie are practically inseparable. They’re roommates, best friends, and each other’s main source of support. There’s absolutely nothing that can come between them.

Except for maybe Bertie’s boyfriend.

Tuca & Bertie is an adult animated sitcom that takes place in Bird Town, a city populated by various anthropomorphic animals and plants, including dogs, talking flowers, and of course, birds. Tuca and Bertie, a toucan and song thrush respectively, are entering a new era of their friendship: Tuca is moving out of their shared apartment so that Bertie’s boyfriend, mild-mannered architect Speckles, can move in with her.

Moving away is tough, especially when you’re leaving your best friend in the whole world—which is probably why for Tuca, “moving away” means moving one floor up in their apartment building.

Birds of a Feather

Bertie may have her life somewhat together—she’s a people-pleasing amateur baker who works at a magazine publishing company and hates confrontation—but Tuca very much does not. While Bertie likes plans and a nice, detailed itinerary, Tuca prefers to live life more spontaneously. She gets her furniture out of the trash, works random freelance jobs instead of staying anywhere long term, and is incapable of staying in a relationship for more than the briefest period of time.

On paper, Tuca and Bertie should absolutely repel each other. Instead, they’re each other’s closest confidants.

Speckles moving in with Bertie complicates things slightly, but he and Tuca get along, and they both want to look after Bertie. Things are definitely changing, but it’s nothing their airtight friendship can’t handle…right?

Fly, Fly Away

Like most adult animation—think Bojack Horseman, Archer, South Park, etc.—Tuca & Bertie does not shy away from objectionable content. In fact, it welcomes it. Sexual content is the biggest issue here; we see animated nudity and several revealing outfits, and Tuca engages in romantic encounters with other female birds and Bertie lives with her boyfriend. Foul language, though not frequent, is also definitely present, as well as some drug and alcohol content.

While there are absolutely some glaring content issues to be aware of, it would be a lie to say that all of Tuca & Bertie is completely dismissible. There are some admirable themes worth noting. Speckles and Bertie seem to truly care about each other and treat each other well, an increasingly rare anomaly in adult animation. He constantly supports her through her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. Tuca and Bertie also have a deep and selfless bond, willing to drop anything to help and support each other. When asked if they’re “in love or something”, Tuca responds passionately, “It’s way deeper than that. She’s my best friend.”

It’s not as if there’s nothing to appreciate here. It’s just a shame that the minds behind Tuca & Bertie chose to hide their commendable themes of friendship, love and support in a sea of content as distasteful as it is wide.

Episode Reviews

Jun. 13, 2021: “Bird Mechanics”

Bertie rushes to find a therapist who can give her a way to stop her panic attacks before a big anniversary dinner with Speckles, while Tuca, fed up with online dating, organizes a dating competition for herself in which contestants are loaded onto a bus and compete for her affection.

The sexual content and references continue into the show’s second season; Tuca’s dating show is called Sex Bus, in which a group of participants, both male and female, get onboard a bus and compete in a variety of bizarre challenges Tuca has orchestrated. One of these challenges is to paint her topless, though we don’t see any full nudity. An older male bird gets trapped on the bus and is forced to participate despite protesting that he has a husband.

Same-sex content is prevalent; the winner of Tuca’s competition is a female bird with whom she makes out with. Before they can go further, however, which is clearly their intention, Tuca gets a call from Bertie and leaves. One of the female therapists Bertie visits flirts with her female secretary and they go dancing together. The same therapist has a tapestry featuring a naked female bird on her wall. During one of her panic attacks, Bertie imagines Speckles leaving her for a hot new girlfriend who’s shown in a bikini. Tuca makes crude references to her bras and the female anatomy; she continues to wear her signature short shorts, and Bertie wears a low-cut dress on her date with Speckles.

Tuca hits a contestant over the head with her painting after eliminating her from the competition. The other contestants find what they think to be a bomb on the bus, and one of them jumps out of the window to escape. While on her date with Speckles, Bertie has a panic attack and imagines the restaurant bursting into flames; later, her vision comes true, and Tuca accidentally stabs the chef in the eyes with kabob skewers. Blood spurts out and he runs around the dining room screaming.

A bottle of wine is shown on Tuca’s bus, and Bertie visits a therapist who uses magical crystals to help with panic attacks (Bertie later tries one, and it shatters). The s-word is used five times, while God’s name is misused once and a “what the h—” is heard.

May 3, 2019: “The Sugar Bowl”

Tuca moves into an apartment upstairs so that Bertie’s boyfriend Speckles can move in. Though the couple immediately faces problems, however, when Bertie accidentally gives away Speckle’s grandmother’s ashes.

In a montage depicting Tuca and Bertie’s antics in their old apartment, we see them each making out on the couch with multiple different partners. Tuca wears extremely short shorts (which she identifies as one of her defining traits) and often dances suggestively. She references a one-night stand she had with a neighbor that caused her to stop using drugs.

While digging through a box of her things, Tuca finds her sex toys and pornography, making a point to show off each (we briefly see a male bird naked from behind). Animated nudity is featured elsewhere when Tuca and Bertie visit their neighbor, a woman with a leafy plant head and a human body named Draca. She takes off her crop top and we see her topless multiple times. We also briefly see Speckles’ bare bottom as he takes off his pants in the apartment.

Alcohol is briefly displayed in the montage of Tuca and Bertie in their apartment; Tuca chugs it out of a bottle and then vomits. A bong is shown in Draca’s apartment, and she also smokes an e-cigarette. A young penguin bullies a kid by slapping him repeatedly, then he steals an ice cream cone from another young bird. Tuca then steals it from him before riding off on someone else’s bike, claiming “nothing belongs to anyone.” God’s name is used in vain three times, while “d—n,” “a—“, “b—ch” and the s-word are each used once.

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Lauren Cook Bio Pic
Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.

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