While the last thing anyone needs right now is yet another streaming service peddling more original content, at least IMDb TV’s (it’s a thing!) You’re Not A Monster is a short-form animated comedy that rarely exceeds five minutes in runtime. It’s also free (provided you don’t mind a commercial or two) and it features the voice talents of Kelsey Grammer, Eric Stonestreet, Aparna Nancherla, and a revolving cast of guest stars that include Amy Sedaris, Adam Palley, Ellie Kemper, Patton Oswalt, and more.
The bite-sized comedy also has a terrific premise that, despite sounding like a random tweet someone offhandedly tossed out — a human therapist works with classic movie monsters — actually works. Think of it as a Dark Universe movie-themed version of Dr. Katz, or the very good but criminally underseen Shrink (seriously, check it out on the NBCUniversal app). Stonestreet is Max Seward, a therapist taking over for his vampire great, great grandfather John (Grammer), who has retired but choses to live out his otherwise immortal life by interfering with his relative’s handling of his former practice and taking the form of a bat to have the occasional romantic interlude with a pigeon.
Sound ludicrous? It is, but it’s also pretty funny, as Stonestreet and Grammer remain committed to the bit, hustling undead (and worse) patients through short-form therapy sessions. Each episode is essentially a bit — not unlike the series itself — that creator, writer, and director Frank Lesser works out in remarkably short time, allowing zombies to work through their issues with food, or help Frankenstein’s monster with his rotten body image and failing marriage. There’s no real end to the parade of ghoulish patients in need of a little couch time with a licensed therapist, and as each episode is shorter than the opening credit sequence to Orange Is the New Black (or at least it feels that way), Lesser and his two leads can work through any number of monstrous sessions in no time at all.
The only real downside to the silly series is that its saving grace — its runtime — can also make each installment feel a little insubstantial. While it’s nice to get a quick laugh out of the way, especially ahead of Halloween, it also raises some questions as to the intentions of the series, and whether or not it’s extreme brevity is a welcome feature in this increasingly crowded television landscape or whether it’s a potentially frightening sign of the audience's radically diminished attention spans. Thankfully, it seems unlikely that the premise could or would even want to support a full half-hour, and there is precedence for this kind of short-short format among some of Adult Swim’s late-night surreal offerings.
While it can be argued that You’re Not a Monster takes its structural cues from Adult Swim’s format, it’s content is anything but. In fact, if pressed, most viewers would like compare the series to Netflix’s soon-to-be-ending BoJack Horseman, in that Lesser employs a healthy dose if Hollywood satire to each installment, and has a loosely serialized storyline about Max’s crippling insecurities and issues dealing with his recent breakup with his girlfriend. Though it lacks the surprising poignancy of some of BoJack’s greatest episodes, it at least makes up for that with jokes about Tom Hanks being a lizard person and Tom Cruise being an immortal.
Sure, such yucks aren’t exactly sophisticated, but Grammer has such a unique voice that almost anything he says is somehow funny. (Think Sideshow Bob as a randy immortal with a flying rat fetish.) And Stonestreet helps make every ridiculous thing coming out of Grammer’s mouth seem somehow funnier, as he plays the audience avatar who has to constantly deal with the fantastical nature of his life and chosen profession.
While the world certainly doesn’t need anymore television content, You’re Not a Monster earns a pass for being so easily bingeable and for trying so hard to make its audience laugh. Those looking for a quick chuckle could do worse.
You’re Not a Monster is available to stream on IMDb TV.