Have you ever wanted to watch Peg People have sex with and murder one another in stop-motion animation? If so, have I got the show for you. Like a long-form, medieval Robot Chicken series, Hulu’s Crossing Swords is childish, crass, shallow, and idiotic. The kind of ridiculous story 3 drunk college freshmen would come up with after midnight and laugh themselves sick fleshing out. And therein lies its strength. It’s so dumb it’s a little bit brilliant. But only a bit.
Squire Patrick (Nicholas Hoult) doesn’t want much from life. All he asks is the chance to become a knight for a kingdom and royal family deserving of his service. It’s too bad he works for King Merriman (Luke Evans), Queen Tulip (Alanna Ubach), and Princess Blossom (Maya Erskine). If a royal family is the crown jewel of a nation, they’re a rhinestone. The only reason Merriman clings to power is every other option — his insane father, lunatic sister, or sociopathic niece — is so much worse. Tulip’s interests include drinking, screwing, and … that’s about it. Princess Blossom is a spoiled mess who abuses her ladies-in-waiting, one of whom is named Human Shield. Patrick’s siblings — a pirate, a bandit, and an alcoholic children’s clown — are terrible people. The other squires and knights are no better. Even the much-abused peasants usually have it coming. The first season dealt with the kingdom’s poverty and lines of succession; in this second season — and I don’t understand how it got a second season — there are cursed gems and disputes with other kingdoms. One episode revolves around monkeys masturbating on corpses. I mean… Once you’ve gone there, what does any of it matter?
Every character is terrible. Even Patrick is only a good person until he gets fed up with everyone else’s utter lack of morality. The jokes are juvenile, mostly centered around STDs and the various ailments suffered by everyone in the Dark Ages. There are occasional cracks about workers’ rights, democracy, and the 1%, but it’s all lipstick on a pig. Yet I can’t look away. The bizarrely stacked cast seem to have the time of their lives voicing these terrible little dolls. The cutesy, bloody, sexualized Peg People make the whole thing feel like playing make-believe with the world’s most cynical preschooler. Everything is a little battered, with scratches and worn paint, and it adds to the effect.
Crossing Swords is at the same time the most adult and most juvenile “adult animation” show out there. It has all the depth of a heat mirage. It’s not to everyone’s taste; it’s probably not even to most people’s taste. But it is a lot of fun.
The second season of Crossing Swords is available now on Hulu.
Header Image Source: Hulu Screenshots