Weird mix of animals go through therapy in ‘Housebroken’

Rick's Reviews

The latest animated offering from FOX features a bizarre group of animal friends. (Photo courtesy of FOX)

(KGET) — The latest animation offering from FOX, “Housebroken,” is a crass menagerie.

What’s revealed in the new series slated to launch at 9 p.m. May 31 is the not-so-secret life of a group of neighborhood pets and stray animals working through their issues in and out of their therapy group. It’s a look at the way humans behave as told through the filter of an offbeat group of neighborhood pets.

Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment for Fox Entertainment, felt an immediate connection to the series when the original idea was pitched by creators Jennifer Crittenden, Gabrielle Allan and Clea DuVall.

Thorn says, “We love our pets.  We all put human traits on our pets.  The pitch I remember ended up in us just alternating stories about whose pets were funnier.  It creates this conversation.

“And when you put Jen, Gaby, and Clea (with) their points of view on the adult humor and why it connects to all of our frailties and personalities, it makes it really universal. I think right now, especially during COVID, we are all even more connected to our pets.”

DuVall has always wanted to go to a counselor to help her deal with the complicated relationship she has with her cat. She did the next best thing with the creation of this series. Duvall was  certain others were having the same problem and this show would be a way to look at some of the issues. The idea began to take shape as the creative team looked at their own human experience through the eyes of pets.

The idea for “Housebroken” started when Allan, DuVall and Crittenden were all working on “Veep.” The three began to discuss ideas for a new show and this tale of cranky critters looked to have the most artistic bite.

Allan says, “We thought, ‘Let’s have a whole bunch of animals in therapy together.’  And we love therapy, we love animals, and we also just thought it would be a great way to look at human issues in a way that felt palatable and relatable and universal for everybody.

“There’s something about putting it on a dog or a cat that makes, sort of, our internal lives easier to talk about. We thought we could have more fun, kind of, exploring human issues through these really cute, fun pets.”

 Once the format was set, the next step was to find the right people to talk for the animals. Voice talents for the series include Lisa Kudrow, Nat Faxon, Will Forte, Jason Mantzoukas, Sam Richardson, Sharon Horgan and Clea DuVall.

Hogan speaks for Tabitha, an aging Persian cat beauty queen, trying to adjust to life off the cat show while Mantzoukas is the voice of The Gray One, a street smart cat who lives with

approximately 30 other cats. Richardson’s character is a very naive feline and Hale’s the voice for Diablo, an anxious, sweater-wearing terrier with OCD.

Forte’s the vice of Shel, a sex-positive tortoise with intimacy issues and a knack for choosing unconventional partners. He jokes that he thought of himself more as a stallion but others saw him differently.

Turtle or horse, Forte calls working on an animated show as one of the best jobs in the acting world.

“You get to be presented with these super-funny scripts all the time,” Forte says. “I’ve been privileged to get to work with a bunch of these people over the last several years.  So, Nat Faxon and I were in the Groundlings together in the late ’90s.

“So, it’s like getting together with a group of friends and having fun and laughing.  So, there’s no downside.  The only downside has been, in COVID, not getting to see everybody in person, but, hopefully, that will change soon.”

Kudrow provides the voice for Honey, a standard poodle who opens her living room for the group to come and support each other through the misery, mayhem and majesty that is being a pet. Honey has her own problems such as her arranged marriage with Chief (voiced by Faxon), a St. Bernard who enjoys eating socks and licking himself.

The Emmy-winning Kudrow jokes that Honey is a perfect fit for her.

“I thought that Honey represents me personally really well:  elegant, really smart, caring, great advice. Actually, overly analytical, controlling, and trying to be fun when it’s really not in there,” Kudrow says. “I didn’t want to pass this up.  So, I just said yes, I think, pretty quickly.  And, yeah, it was really fun, and it was great to do something during COVID.”

The debut of “Housebroken” will be followed by season two of the animated “Duncanville” at 9:30 p.m

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