People are weird. What makes them weird, however, depends on the person — or in the case of HBO’s Animals, depends on the animal. For as the first season of Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano‘s hit animated series has proven, even the rats, squirrels, pigeons, turtles and toy frogs of New York can be exceptionally odd.
Then again, the animals on Animals aren’t weird due to the fact their lives mirror the very human New Yorkers that their various quirks are based on. (Seeing a buff pigeon who frequents the neighborhood gym is totally normal, right?) Rather, they’re weird because they exhibit random crazy laughs, pop rat poison for stamina, and torture house guests on occasion. Here’s a ranking of the 9 that went above and beyond in their pursuit of oddness.
9. Old Ben
When viewers first meet Old Ben (SNL vet Jon Lovitz) in “Squirrels, Part 1,” it quickly becomes apparent just how odd he actually is. “People tell you to push me away on account of my milky eye and crazy laugh,” Old Ben tells a younger squirrel named Phil. When asked about the laugh, he bursts into a maniacal cackle that “comes in waves.” And amidst the wreckage of the squirrels’ downed tree, he rants about whether or not he looks like a nut (and subsequently names several examples), talks about his paintings, and keeps laughing randomly. Think about that. If you were a squirrel, you wouldn’t want to visit Old Ben either.
8. Kaitlin & 7. Ashley
Kaitlin and Ashley, two aquarium-bound turtles voiced by Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham respectively, are very lonely. Hence why, between arguments about who is pooping on which lily pad and whether or not Ashley’s voice registers too low for a female turtle, they spend their idle time fawning over a toy frog named Jeremy.
“Rats” featured an intriguing look into the nightlife of New York’s most hated rodents, but equally despised by the rat community itself is Fink, a hard-partying ladies man voiced by Jason Mantzoukas. Mike and Phil (Luciano and Matarese) don’t care for him too much, but when Fink starts popping mysterious blue pills — giving him the stamina to make babies with every lady rat he can find — the childless Phil follows his lead. Too bad it’s rat poison, a mistake that ultimately ends them both. Despite the horrifying side effects, Fink opts against figuring out what the pills actually were and uses a sob story about his dead brother and cheese to score points. Gross.
Danny McBride plays a vengeful turkey named Gregory. As awesome as this is by itself, however, Gregory’s vendetta against the mayor stands out in the Animals season one finale, “Turkeys.” Why? Because the mayor’s pardoning him for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade separates him from his beloved wife Sarah (Jessica Chastain). Watching the mayor toss free turkeys to the crowds from the parade float doesn’t help. Ultimately, it’s hard to blame Gregory for his rage, but weird to ponder the thirst for justice that a turkey has considering its typical fate. Enjoy the second chance, bro.
4. DJ Lab Rat
Throughout the “Rats” dance party scene, everyone is trying to accomplish the same goal: make as many babies as possible. Unfortunately for Phil, he accidentally ingests poison. So unless he finds a mate, lil’ Phil Jr. will never exist. Enter DJ Lab Rat (Nathan Fielder), whose lab-grown human ear lets him provide Phil and Rebecca (Katie Aselton) with a lovely tune.
Even man’s best friend can be a little prejudicial at times. Take Charles (Aziz Ansari) for instance, a purebred who apparently asks every new visitor to the dog park in “Dogs.” When he runs into Phil (Phil Matarese), a Papillon, Charles assumes he’s found a brother in arms and immediately begins discussing “the mutts” in a negative light. He even shows off the “little marker” he got to Phil, telling him it lets others known where he’s “coming from.” As disturbing as this is to Phil, Charles only makes matters worse by insisting to the entire dog park that they’re friends. He even makes a sign that reads, “Heil Phil.”
2. Mike & 1. Phil
You’d think Alex (Eric Andre), an alley cat who attempts to rob the pampered house cats of the mayor’s wife, Mike and Phil (Luciano and Matarese), would be weird by default. Yet he’s quite normal, for as “Cats” ultimately reveals, Mike and Phil are into some strange, kinky stuff. Not to kink-judge, of course, but when their sole purpose is to psychologically and physically torture Alex, all bets are off. (Not masks, though. They can stay on.)
The pair traps Alex in a pet carrier, dresses up in costume, and giggle uncontrollably while teasing their captive with knives, saws and other devices. Who buys toys like these for their cats?
Of course, Luciano and Matarese would save the weirdest characters for themselves.
Animals season 2 premieres on HBO on March 17