New York City literally gets freaked out in the new animated series, Ugly Americans, on Comedy Central, Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30 c. Created by Devin Clark and developed by former Simpsons writer David Stern, Ugly Americans follows Mark Lilly (Matt Oberg), a social worker at the Department of Integration as he helps new citizens, both human and non-human adapt to hectic life in the Big Apple, including weaning vampires off blood, socializing land-whales and housebreaking werewolves. Between his stressful job, a zombie roommate and a demon girlfriend, Lilly barely gets any sleep, especially with a drop-dead gorgeous mermaid sitting at the bar. Aaron Augenblick serves as director, supervising producer and animation director. The Flash-animated series is done at Cuppa Coffee Studios, with Lucy Snyder and Lou Solis directing layouts and animation.
Ugly Americans is an outgrowth of the 5-On webisode, in which monsters are normalized. All images courtesy of Comedy Central.
The series was originally picked up for seven episodes, but has been renewed for seven more to air in October. Clark, who used to work at Augenblick Studios, has had projects featured in Stash, Animation Block Party, Rooftop Films, the Ottawa Film Festival, Platform and Atom Films. He explains the genesis and experience of making Ugly Americans.
Bill Desowitz: How did you get the idea for Ugly Americans?
Devin Clark: It really started as a simple idea, taking these sheets of paper and breaking them into eight panels and dealing with one topic like sex or the economy, and there would be eight creatures (zombies or robots) talking about that one topic. And it was more of an excuse to kill time while waiting for the subway and come up with weird characters with strange designs. When I started thinking about pitching web shows, I thought about one with different character designs every time, like a man in the streets interview show with the reporter interviewing a different creature on a specific topic. That's what I brought to Comedy Central three years ago [which became 5-On]. And it took a long time and we ended up paring it down from eight to five creatures and rather than broad, esoteric topics, we made it more topical, like zombies on presidential candidates, robots on immigration. They paired me up with fantastic writers and we just started making episodes, writing little scripts and knocking out these two-minute web shows. It was a blast.
BD: Had did that lead to Ugly Americans?
DC: And so after we finished about six of those, Comedy Central came back to me and said they really love these characters and the whole premise of this world where these horrific and bizarre monsters were like these normal people you would interact with on the street. So pitch us this whole idea back as a TV show and let's see what we can do. I gave them a rough idea, but they said I wasn't a writer, and they paired me up with David Stern, who got it right off the bat. We went out for a couple of beers to meld and mesh our brains together and get as much of the backstory and mythology and craziness that I absorbed from movies and comic books over the years. And so went out and did a pilot and have been doing this ever since.
Naturally DC Comics and monster movies are big influences.