Golan the Insatiable is not your typical cartoon. Sure, there are the usual trappings of a family sitcom: A cozy Midwest town. An adorable precocious preteen daughter. Her older, more… shall we say “worldly” sister. Their single mom just trying to hold everything together.
This probably sounds familiar, but the title character, Golan the Insatiable, turns the premise on its head when he crash lands from an interdimensional portal and takes up residence in the family’s suburban home. A renegade demon lord exiled into a humdrum middle-American existence, he plots with the younger daughter Dylan to wreak havoc and return to his home.
Golan started out on the web, then became part of a cartoon anthology series, and has most recently segued into its own legit 30-minute animated series airing on Sunday nights. The fantastically imaginative concept started out as a series of short journal-style entries by Joshua “Worm” Miller on the web forum “Something Awful” between 2010 and 2012.
The journal features the earliest iteration of the characters, and the plot focuses mostly on Golan himself and the differences between his life in his Dungeons & Dragons-esque nightmare-dimension called “Gkruool” versus the USA everytown of Oak Grove, Minnesota. There are interesting distinctions between this rough and offensive early version and its later, tamer TV reiterations--most notably the Barbarian character “Yor” who is also stranded in our dimension. He’s loved by the citizens of Oak Grove just as universally as Golan is despised.
Golan evolved into a 2013 short series as part of Fox’s ADHD TV programming block alongside similarly adult animated shows like High School USA and Axe Cop. Miller himself voiced several characters, including Golan, but when the network scrapped the programming block, it seemed the adventures of Golan, Dylan (his preteen acolyte), and the Beekler family would also be over. While that wasn’t the case, the question is whether it should have been.
For just when it seemed like Golan had gone the way of the dodo, FOX instead conjured it back to life as part of its Sunday night animation lineup. The new Golan has undergone some changes--the Beekler family now consists only of single Mom Carole (sorry, affable loser Dad, Richard!), and daughters Dylan and Alexis. While Carole probably still writes erotic fan fiction about Golan, the Godlord’s perviness towards teen Alexis has been expunged from the plot--mostly likely deemed too objectionable by network producers.
For a 30 year-old, I watch a heck of a lot of animation. In this country, the medium has been relegated mostly to an “age ghetto” to use tvtropes.org terminology, or the lowest common denominator. It’s no surprise then with each reiteration, Golan the Insatiable has become less edgy, more appealing to a wider audience, longer, and dumber. The Fox network execs are probably pushing Family Guy-style frat humor since that seems to be what “the people” want...or is it just what they think we want? In any event, the latest version of Golan now features Rob Riggle, former correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, as a more bro-tastic bratty Golan. In essence, Golan has become American Dad. Just, you know, a demon.
Demons have feelings too.
The concept has undergone some positive changes too -- Dylan, originally a teenage boy in Miller’s writing, has transformed into a goth elementary-schooler (voiced in the latest version by the immensely talented Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation and Grumpy Cat fame). Most characters, such as the town Mayor or Keith Knudsen, Dylan’s sister’s boyfriend, get much more characterization in this new revision. Also, with the negative continuity of the show, the horrors that Golan and Dylan inflict on the small community are reset at the beginning of each new episode (so it’s okay if Dylan or Golan bludgeon 5th grade bully McKenzie B. to death, right?).
Finally, though being the tamest version of the Godlord himself, the new Golan occasionally works entertaining feats of Gkruoolian magic with humorous results -- he breathes life into a backpack in the pilot, for example, or in the third episode creates a “shamunculous”, a monster that feeds on shame.
Nevertheless, the latest episodes of the show are mere shadows of the stronger, edgier, and more tightly-written episodes from the ADHD version and the web series that spawned it. Let this be a lesson to the fanboys and girls of America -- be careful when asking for your favorite shows to come back on the air, you might just get what you wish for. And it will be transformed into a shamunculous.
Golan the Insatiable airs Sunday evenings on Fox at 9:30 p.m. EST. You can also catch all four aired episodes on the FOX website.