In 2012, Nickelodeon launched the Nickelodeon Animated Shorts Program. It allowed an opportunity for creators who have worked in all areas of animation to create a short and submit it for consideration to be turned into a full on series. Looking over the list of entries, dozens are submitted each year with one title selected as the winner. The first winner of the program in 2012, Breadwinners, became a full series in 2014. In 2013, The Loud House was the winner and became a full series this year.
The Loud House is created by long-time animation journeyman Chris Savino. The series follows the exploits of Lincoln Loud as he tries to get through everyday living as a middle child and the only boy with ten sisters. In each episode, Lincoln addresses the audience with a pressing concern, be it trying to obtain “the sweet spot” during a long car ride or moving up from the kiddie table to the grown-up table during dinner. He goes about every now and then explaining how he plans to get through the situation and proceeds to execute, usually to unexpected results and all while dealing with the antics of his sisters.
A few episodes in, I’d like to say that The Loud House has the potential to be a sleeper hit. I rather like the graphic look of the show. It hearkens to the newspaper comic strips both in design and in the flat color scheme. The show doesn’t talk down to its viewers, nor does it expect them to understand anything that is too sophisticated for their young minds. It finds a middle ground that is able to communicate at a level that everyone can understand and enjoy. It helps that the show isn’t so much about the sisters being obstacles, but rather trying to get through the day as peacefully as one can with so many siblings. And the sisters do care for their only brother, even if it’s not shown all that often.
Each sister has their own personality, though at this early of the stage it does make them appear one-note at times. For example, there’s the child prodigy Lisa, who speaks in scientific terms at fifty miles per hour. There’s bossy sister Lori, who takes great pride in being the oldest of all the children and tries to use it to get her way. And there’s the twins Lola and Lana, with Lola being the bratty girly-girl and Lana being the messy tomboy. The one I like happens to be the one who seems to have the closest bond with Lincoln, that being aspiring rocker Luna. She appears, from what I’ve seen so far, to be a bit more accommodating to him as opposed to feeling like he’s a burden. I understand there’s an upcoming episode where she tries to make his first concert experience a memorable one. And yes, it should be noted that everyone’s name begins with the letter “L”.
On the other hand, Lincoln just isn’t that interesting in comparison. This is probably due to how the premise has been devised, with each episode building the stories around how to endure the antics of the sisters. Lincoln comes off as a typical straight-man as opposed to a leading character. As a result, the audience ends up not having too much emotional interest in Lincoln and his attempts to get through each day with ten sisters. They’re more interested in how the sisters, particularly the favorites a viewer might have, react during whatever situation is presented on the show. The show also has the parents and Lincoln’s friend Clyde, who tries to provide assistance to Lincoln’s plans while pining over older sister Lori. But they’re pretty much pushed to the background in favor of the sisters.
I do feel that having so many sisters is as much of a presentation problem as it does provide unique story ideas. With ten sisters, there’s only so much that can be done to spotlight each one with significant screen time before having to push them to the back for the remainder of the episode. And given how one-note the personalities come off at times, that puts some of the girls in danger of hardly getting developed all that much in the long-run. I believe this is certainly the case for a sister like Luan, who likes to play practical jokes on everyone. From what I’ve seen, she does her thing and is regulated to the back almost as quickly. I’m left wondering why I should be interested in her if she brings nothing else to the table.
Each episode comprises of two fifteen-minute stories. Most of the stories so far feature Lincoln ending up having to contend with all of the sisters in some fashion, be it who gets control what to watch on TV or him becoming the deciding vote on where to go for a family vacation. There are the occasional stories that spotlight a particular sister, although it appears Lori lives up to her dominant personality by get most of these to be about her. In one respect, the fifteen-minute length is good because maintaining the personalities of the characters under one particular situation for too long can become a big overwhelming. Just how much of Leni’s ditzy nature during Lincoln’s attempt to help her learn how to drive can a viewer take? But at the same time, the story length further adds to the feeling that the sisters seem one-note as opposed to being fleshed out.
The look of the show is possibly the best thing going for it. It allows for each character to shine through visually, helping add to their personality and identification. You know right away that Lucy is a deadpan goth girl just by looking at her. You get the sense that Lynn is the competitive type from the clothes she wears and how she wears her ponytail. The designs also make it clear just how chaotic things getting within the house hold, playing up to the out-of-control nature of the show. And the colors are kept simple without being in danger of clashing. It’s all very pleasing to the eyes, making things easy to look at and follow.
If it seems like I’m being a bit hard on the show for feeling that the premise comes off as a detriment, it’s because I believe The Loud House has the potential of being a really good show over time. It’s already getting positive feedback from fans. It has a nice graphic style that fits with the vibe of the show and the writing is actually quite nice and accessible to both the younger and older audiences. It just needs to fix up the presentation of the premise. The show really hinges on it, so if it can work out well, then it will result in a fine show. But for now, The Loud House is worth at least a look. Interest beyond that is up to the viewer.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?
The Loud House
Weekdays at 5pm EST
Created by Chris Savino