Storytelling is an age-old art. From the birth of man, we have all endeavored to tell tales and share ideas. Sometimes, good writing comes from years of work, Shakespearean intrigue, and subtle usage of imagery, metaphor, and sometimes a hefty hint of satire. Other times, writers may just take all the drugs they possibly can and just write down what comes out.
“Superjail!” is a show on Adult Swim that falls into the second category. A completely trippy and surreal show, “Superjail!” is produced by Williams Street, known for “Metalocalypse”, a comparatively tame show about a death metal band so big they are the seventh largest global economy (surpassing Belgium). Instead of having a straightforward, sane premise like “Metalocalypse”, Superjail is a jail built in the 57th dimension, run by a warden who suspiciously resembles Willy Wonka in dress and demeanor (read: psychosis).
If Willy was raised differently, with an interest in incarceration instead of candy, and then given an unlimited amount of resources, what he would build would probably resemble Superjail.
Graphic and violent, “Superjail!” is a dark show. Every frame of every episode has something disturbing and strange, even down to the animation style. Raw and gritty, no effort has gone into making things look good, just pure weird. While slightly disconcerting, the style soon becomes familiar and comfortable even while being chaotic and unrefined.
“Superjail!” is the sort of show to take in small doses. Episodes are about 10 minutes in length, but two or three episodes in a row can leave one in a stupor. Trying to comprehend the show is a hopeless task, one can only hang on for the ride. A telling moment is when the warden enters the collective dream world of the inmates and things generally aren’t that different. Blood, death, aliens, moving walls with teeth and raining bodies are simply par for the course.
After watching a season and a half in one go, my brain felt like jelly, a white mass of congealed bacon fat. Even without trying to pay attention, the imagery and sound on its own was enough. Although that may not sound like a glowing recommendation, “Superjail!” is a fantastic show. Sometimes one tires of plots that need to be paid attention to, of having to rewind or ask “Who is that guy? Is he the guy who did that stuff?” and a show is needed where one can just sit down and zone out.
One popular opinion is that Superjail is actually hell, and it’s quite hard to argue against that accusation. Given no other context, viewers may very well think that “Superjail!” describes a strange and unorthodox interpretation of hell. Full of an unending supply of the worst of the worst of human scum, the vast majority of which meet some terrible horrible end, add on interaction with ancient death gods, adventures in a miniature world where growth serum turns the smallest ant into a giant glowing green wrecking ball, hell doesn’t seem like that faulty of a description. The warden and his motley crew of enforcers and administrators easily take the role of Satan and the myriad demons he’s rumored to control.
It may not be for everybody. It may have topics that offend those with delicate sensibilities, but if surrealism and complete lunacy sounds good, if dark humor and violent death bring out laughter, if the absurd and bizarre satisfies and entertains, “Superjail!” is the show to watch.