Sometimes we feel that Family Guy ruined things for adult animated comedies that were about families. Shows that came after Seth MacFarlane’s signature show leaned so heavily on gags and flashbacks that they forgot to actually develop the show’s characters. Bob’s Burgers is one of the big exceptions, but even that show took time to get going. A new animated series on Hulu tries to take the Bob’s Burgers approach, though it’s set in a very different part of our world.


Opening Shot: “Antarctica 1821.” A discovery is made in those desolate, snowy environs. It’s so horrible that the leader of the mission says it should be hidden in the “most boring, backwards, piece of shit place in the entire world.”

The Gist: Cut to the suburban town of Dapto, Australia, in the present day. Bald, paunchy, middle-aged husband and IT guy Kevin Williams (Michael Cusack) goes around town in his free time as Koala Man. He’s essentially wearing the same clothes, but he dons a koala mask and a cape, and he tries to break up disputes and enforce the rules around town, though he neither has the permission or ability to do any of it.

None of his family understands why he does it. His wife Vicky (Sarah Snook), bemoans that he does his Koala Man schtick when they should be having date nights, and she has to keep bugging him about fixing the wobbly leg on the coffee table. His daughter Alison (Demi Lardner) and son Liam (Cusack) don’t get it either, but they have their own teenage pursuits: Alison wants to be popular and have people kiss up to her, and Liam wants to paint his army of mecha-robot soldiers. Kevin thinks everyone in town is trying to minimize what he does; it’s known as “tall poppy syndrome,” where Aussies cut each other down so they’re all the same degree of mediocre.

Kevin has another responsibility: On “bin day”, he’s the first one to put his garbage bins out, signaling to the entire town that they should do it, too. Even Big Greg (Hugh Jackman), his boss and a beloved fishing host (which in Australia, means “wrestles crocs”), knows that Kevin’s good for rebooting his wifi router and putting out the bins.

But on this bin day, Kevin wakes up from working on a catchy theme song (another suggestion from Big Greg) and sees that he didn’t put out the bins. Horrors! It sets off a chain reaction where no one in Dapto put their bins out, making the tallest poppy of them all — that ugly monster found in Antarctica — very unhappy. And when Big Greg, who’s also head of the town council, instructs everyone to dump their bins on Kevin’s lawn, the poppy goes looking for garbage, including the “human garbage” that populates Dapto.

Koala Man
Photo: HULU

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Koala Man has a Family Guy look but with more of a Bob’s Burgers vibe.

Our Take: We definitely see what Michael Cusack had in mind when he created Koala Man. He wants to make essentially an Aussie Bob’s Burgers, where an average man tries to outstrip his average circumstances but isn’t particularly good at doing it. The show is going to be steeped in developing the characters of not only Kevin and his family but getting into the community of Dapto at large.

So we are hopeful that as the first 8-episode season goes along, Cusack and his writers get such a good handle on his characters that the more insane parts of the story, like the garbage-eating poppy, won’t be the focus. There were some funny moments in the first episode, but we felt like there should have been more. It just feels like one of those shows where there should be more there than there is, but think the show’s writers have more than enough of a base to get on the right track.

Of course, one of the things we appreciate about the show is how it’s unapologetically Australian, all the way down to the fact that Kevin picks the koala as the inspiration for his superhero persona. In a way, it’s following the lead of Bluey, even though it’s not for kids; its setting and a lot of its humor are steeped in its location, and there was never a thought about genericizing the setting or the voices.

What we also appreciate is that stars like Snook and Jackman are able to really get into their characters because they’re not trying to do other accents. Vicky is so bereft of confidence and intimacy that she’s the opposite of Snook’s Succession role of Shiv Roy, and Snook is able to inhabit Vicky’s unsteadiness with ease. Jackman also disappears into Big Greg pretty quickly.

We definitely want to keep seeing Kevin continue to be mediocre, as a husband, father and a superhero. That and the personalities of the people in his town is where Koala Man is going to shine.

Sex and Skin: None.

Parting Shot: We find out who put the bins back after Kevin put them out; a giant kookaburra that for some reason is watching every move Koala Man makes.

Sleeper Star: Rachel House plays Janine, who works with Vicky at the school canteen. Anyone who is familiar with her voice from various Disney projects will be surprised at the lines she utters as Janine.

Most Pilot-y Line: “Do you know how many fathers are paralyzed by sharp toys each year?” Kevin asks Liam when he steps on one of his son’s soldiers. Liam’s response is appropriate but shoots a little high: “I don’t know, like five?”

Our Call: STREAM IT. The characters in Koala Man are solid enough to make us think that the more time Cusack and his writers get to develop them, the better the show will get.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.