Join us as we review the Fox animated sitcom, Bless the Harts, on The Pilot Podcast. We follow Kristien Wigg’s character, Jenny Hart, as she deals with life’s challenges while raising a teenage daughter, working, dating, and living with her mother. What did you think of this rather heartwarming comedy set in the South? Do you still have your beanie babies in storage? And Jesus Christ gives some really good advice, doesn't he?
Bless the Harts follows a family living in the South who are poor in money, but rich in fun, laughter, and friends. The main protagonist is Jenny Hart (Kristen Wiig), who struggles to make ends meet. Her daughter Violet Hart (Jillian Bell) and mother Betty Hart (Maya Rudolph) live with her along with her boyfriend Wayne (Ike Barinholtz).
Special thanks to our friend and editor, Ronnie, from Bristol Pod Works
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Welcome to The Pilot Podcast
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap other shows to answer your question: Should I watch this?
My name is BJ
And my name is Mitu
And this week we're checking out a new animated comedy on Fox, Bless the Harts.
So stay tuned to the end to learn how recently BJ learned why the show is called Bless the Harts.
To be fair, I don't think they explicitly said Jenny's last name in this episode. So it took me until after we finished watching that I found out they're The Hart family and unlike you, I did not know that Jesus Christ was a main character on the show. So I didn't realize he was blessing Jenny Hart.
Oh, wait. [Both laugh]
Who's slow now? [Both laugh]
I thought it was like, you know how in the south we say bless their heart.
Yeah, it's a play on words of both.
I thought it was just bless their heart. But the family name this has to do with Jesus being a recurring character as well?
He's on the main cast.
Do you think Jesus has something to do with the title though?
Yes, it's like both of those. They took the saying bless your heart, or bless their heart. And then they added in Jesus and made their family name heart.
He's not really blessing them. Which speaking of Beej, you want to get into what we saw in this first episode?
Sure. On Bless the Harts were introduced to a family living in the south. It's supposed to be based on the triad area of North Carolina, specifically High Point, North Carolina, where the creator grew up and we meet Jenny Hart. She's a single mom, she's strapped for cash, but she's trying to make things work while raising her teenage daughter living with her mother and her boyfriend. And she also works at a local restaurant called Last Supper where she talks to a hallucination of Jesus. Or maybe you know what she is talking to Jesus. And so the main conflict in this episode is that Jenny needs to pay her water bill it's past due and she doesn't have the extra money. And then she find out that her mother has actually been storing these collectible items, huggin' bugs, kind of like Beanie Babies with the plan that hold on to them for like 20 years and then you can sell them and make what I think she said was 50 to 70 thousand dollars. And then, sitcom high jinks happened, where Jenny goes behind her mother's back to start selling these collectibles, but Jenny's mom, Betty is the one actually buying them from her. I believe they're actually building credit card debt throughout this whole process.
And I also wonder why Jenny didn't realize she was shipping them to her mother who lives in her home, but whatever. In the end, Jesus comes through, and they're able to sell one huggin' bug and pay their water bill. There's also a big plot focused on Jenny's daughter Violet. She is an artist doing her own like graphic novel comic books, and Jenny's boyfriend Wayne notices that she's basing all her characters on people in her lives, like her mother and grandmother, her biological father who's not a regular part of her life, and also Wayne. And Wayne is disappointed to see that he is a stump instead of like a cool, strong superhero with like wings and stuff like that. And so he tries to impress her bill a fourth from our comics, unfortunately, it's not up to code. And so they actually end up having to get rid of it. But they have a nice little bonding moment by the end. So it's good that Wayne is actually a good influence on her life and not someone that she doesn't want around.
There's a lot of heart no pun intended in this show. Wayne is so heartening in his attempt to ingratiate himself to Violet. He really wants to be a father figure in her life,
Which is great, because not everyone feels the need to get that close to their partner's children if they're not their own child.
And it's great that he's actually making a really significant effort because that fort he built was very impressive.
Yeah, it was a really beautiful. And as they said on the show whimsical part of this episode.
So what did you think about this setting of the quote unquote, South? We know it's based on the triad region in North Carolina? Did you get any sense of North Carolina specifically?
So I would say speaking to the south, more generally, their accents were terrible. And I couldn't tell if that was part of the humor of the show was the heightened fake Southern accent, I thought Maya Rudolph's was okay, because she was floating in and out of it in a way that felt a bit more natural, but especially Ike Barinholtz's southern accent was terrible. So as far as that portrayal of the South is concerned, as you and I have discussed on the show before, just not a great Southern accent, I also think that they intentionally had the area be especially barren depicting lack of financial opportunities, and they had the south seem a bit destitute. And I don't know if that is from the show creator's perspective, or if that is also providing that hick culture comedy for the show.
Yeah, it was very confusing with the accent and where they are supposed to be in the south because it seemed like they were blending in aspects that you would associate with a hick town or like a small country town, but it also didn't really feel that small as well. So I was a little confused of what type of southern town or city there are trying to emulate.
I agree. Confusing is the right word for that.
But despite those poor accents, I would actually say that the cast did a great job with the voices for each character. Would you agree?
I would agree BJ. I think this cast is really stacked. I love each of these comedians, individually as someone who loves a comedy loves a sitcom. And this is no surprise for listeners who tuned into our show more often than literally once. I love Kristen Wiig. I love Maya Rudolph, I think their chemistry can do no wrong. Even when the jokes in this first episode were a bit lacking, their chemistry was so good that they still delivered. Same with Ike Barinholtz despite the not great Southern accent. And Jillian Bell was fabulous too. Also a special shout out to Michelle Buteau who voiced a couple characters and was very funny in this as well. And she also is just someone to look out for she's such a scene stealer. She is in the beginning of the movie, Someone Great starring Gina Rodriguez on Netflix. And apparently she improv'd most of that scene. And she's just really, really funny. So that's my thoughts on the whole cast is paying attention to Michelle Buteau, you'll be better off for it. Beej, how did you feel? Because sometimes my concern with casts that are this stacked is sometimes I get nervous that people surrounding the show don't feel as much pressure to make it quality. In the case of a comedy make the jokes land as hard or have em as sharp because you have your reliance on not just this cast being super reliable, but each person can with a pretty ravenous fanbase.
This cast is off to a strong start. If you aren't from the south, I doubt the accent or even going to stand up to you, which will work in your favor. And I do agree, I do think there are some concerns that they tried to stack the cast with a lot of famous funny people kind of like those movies where the cast is like, packed with just a billion stars. And then it doesn't turn out to be that good of a movie. But I think that they are putting in the effort to make a good show. And I think the premise is straightforward enough. And they're focusing more on kind of like situational comedy, that I think that works in the favor of all of these actors, because they're all really good at that situational and also physical comedy. So they're lending that to kind of add another layer to all of these animated characters.
Speaking of these fabulous comedians on this show, we also get exposed to some pretty dark comedy because while the show in its animation, and in the delivery of the lines, I think was supposed to mimic a more high jinks typical animated show about a family that is geared toward adult audiences. We dove into some pretty dark topics like this family couldn't afford water, which is one of the essential things that you need to live, they didn't have access to water, they didn't have access to resources. They had no access to capital, and they live in this restrictive town that doesn't allow them to build forts in their backyard, though permit laws are a thing that get us all. So how did you feel about them finding comedy in those dark moments? Did it work for you?
I think it worked due to the personalities of the characters.
They're all relatable people. Even if you are a single mom struggling to pay your water bill.
You can relate the different aspects of Jenny's character personally, like with Violet, I always wanted like a bigger bedroom growing up. So I can somewhat relate to her wanting her own space.
Because unfortunately, listeners, her bedroom is a bedroom, a storage room, an art studio, a laundry room, the water heater is in there.
She has like no privacy, she hears everyone outside. So I get that, especially as a teenager, that's when you start to really want privacy and space. So I think it makes sense that you can turn such universal problems into an enjoyable experience that you can kind of laugh at.
And I think the unique value add of this show is the fact that this is a show centering on a single mom trying to pay the bills and the people in her life like Violet, who are struggling connected to that, because if your mom is a single mom trying to pay the bills, and having difficulty making ends meet, obviously, you are directly affected by that. It's interesting that she is the one supporting her mother, although they're all I believe living in the mom's house and that she is supporting Wayne, and I'm curious to see what they do with that in the show because unlike maybe the closest because comparison could be a Bob's Burgers. This is not your typical nuclear family. So Bob's Burgers is this wonderfully weird, strange comedy show, but they still have that classic nuclear family element. And this nuclear family is alternative to that.
Yeah. And I feel like and maybe I'm biased from growing up in the south, this is a more common family than you see in media. But it's like very realistic. You know, you have a parent living in the home. Single moms are very prevalent Although they show up on a lot of TV shows.
But also, you know, having a child and a partner that you're not married to living with you. I think these are the types of relationships that we don't see enough because it's not always and sometimes rarely is nowadays, the nuclear family. So what did you think of the inclusion of Jesus Christ?
I actually thought that was the most fun part of the show is the fact that she works at a restaurant called The Last Supper. And when she's going through it, essentially hallucinates Jesus Christ coming from the mural on the wall at the Last Supper restaurant where she works and sitting down and chatting with her and genuinely offering decent guidance.
He's very supportive and they have like good conversations.
And speaking of a stacked cast Kumail Nanjiani is Jesus Christ and he's great at it. So I actually loved it. I think that that's the weird, wonderful element of this show. That will be the interesting angle.
Yeah, it's like the Brian the talking dog, of Family Guy for this show.
Exactly. And it made me think of on Big Mouth, how one of the little boys that Nick Kroll voices talks to the ghost of Duke Ellington. I love when shows breakout, that strange stuff. I love when an animated show fully recognizes that it's an animated show. And so it'll do something like bring a historical figure back from the dead or bring this fantastical figure for someone to chat with or interact with, or some other otherworldly element, even that fort was such a strange, improbable thing. And I love when animated shows recognize that they have more flexibility than regular sitcoms, in playing with reality. Beej, what did you think about the animation style of the show?
Before we started recording, I told you one of the first things that made me think of was King of the Hill. And I think that was just kind of the less polished look to all the character designs. So another show it reminded me of from Adult Swim is Home Movies, where I think they have a very unique style that doesn't try to make everyone look clean and attractive in a sense. And I mean, even if you think of something like Simpsons, I wouldn't say they try to make everyone attractive. But there's a very polished smooth style to all the designs that I think they're purposefully not doing with this show. And I think that helps it stand out. It doesn't blend into the style of animation we're seeing everywhere.
I don't have as much experience watching animated TV shows, or at least I'm not that informed in them. I thought the animated style was fine. For our listeners who are like me and occasionally enjoy a show like Bob's Burgers or Steven Universe, we tend to just accept that animation as it comes. And I think with this show, it's no different. I think if it were any more fantastical then the jokes wouldn't land as well with it being based on a real family experiencing real issues. So I think it toes that line well.
What kind of storylines do you think they'll tackle with this show?
I hope that they take advantage of the fact that a lot of the people on the cast are women, and I hope they really dig into the unique part of their story, which is that this is centered around a single mom. That's not something I've seen a lot in animated sitcoms. And so I hope that the storylines go around those two things, but I also hope that it's not always tragedy, and we'll get into some more high jinks.
I agree. I like that they're focusing on a single mom in an animated setting. And I think they can bring up some important and relevant messages kind of like not being able to pay for bills, but I do you see some more brighter episodes coming along. Even in the opening, we saw a few characters that weren't introduced yet. Violet seems to have another artistic friend so I think we'll see some more light hearted storylines. So you ready to head into our ratings?
Yes. Beej, what would you rate Fox's animated comedy, Bless the Harts?
I would rate Bless the Harts: would watch while doing laundry, or cooking dinner. Easy, 22 minute episodes, which is probably better for cooking a meal than doing full load of laundry washing and drying, but it's funny enough that I enjoyed watching it. I'm not compelled enough to see some grand story about Jenny and her family. But I could definitely enjoy this as like a side distraction while I'm cooking. What do you think?
I think the individual episodes are funny enough to watch by themselves. So I'm somewhere between would watch again casually, so catching it when it's on. Because I already watched Bob's Burgers so it lives within that block. Or I would suggest - because I think the show is funny enough for this - downloading a couple episodes or however that works for you and watching them on a long trip.
I have some work travel coming up. I'll probably watch a couple of these.
That's a good suggestion.
Thank you Beej. I'm glad that you you think my recommendations are good.
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Thanks for listening!
Transcribed by https://otter.ai