“The Great North” isn’t so great

When I heard Loren Bouchard would be producing another show, I was interested. After all I like Bob’s Burgers and Central Park – but already I’ve seen a lot of overlap and similarities between the two shows. What could he do that’s new and would set the series apart?

Well, rather than a large city or a tourist trap somewhere along the East coast- The Great North takes place in Alaska. Not necessarily a specific city – just Alaska. Which could be interesting, if it was authentic, but it’s just another family sitcom.

THE GREAT NORTH: A new animated comedy that follows the Alaskan adventures of the Tobin family, as a single dad does his best to keep his bunch of kids close. In the special preview episode, the family’s plans to celebrate Judy’s 16th birthday on the family fishing boat go awry after a moose breaks into the Tobin’s home in the “Sexi Moose” special preview episode of THE GREAT NORTH airing Sunday, Jan. 3 (8:31-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. L-R: Honey Bee (Dulcé Sloan), Wolf (Will Forte), Ham (Paul Rust), Judy (Jenny Slate), Moon (Aparna Nancherla) and Beef (Nick Offerman). THE GREAT NORTH © 2021 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Fox Media LLC.

The Great North follows the Tobin family and their shenanigans. The family consists of dad Beef; daughter Judy; son’s Wolf, Ham and Moon and Wolf’s fiancee Honeybee. Mom left long ago and while the kids have accepted that – Dad hasn’t.  There’s only two episodes – the second premiered just last night, so I haven’t had time to review it. But I gotta say – I’m not impressed so far.

Though Bouchard is an executive producer, the show was created by the Molyneux sisters and Minty Lewis – it’s very hard to miss Bouchard’s influence. I will say, there’s a lot of room for the characters and concept to grow and there are some aspects that set the series apart from its spiritual predecessors. But I do have to say, “Sexi Moose Adventure,” is not the best pilot episode out there, and doesn’t give me a lot of hope for future episodes.

So Much of the Same

Shows with the same creative team tend to have a lot of similarities. It just seems that when it comes to adult shows: Disenchantment, for example, just takes characters from Groening’s other works and reskins them. The Great North takes the same character archetypes from Bouchard’s other works, ages them up, splits some up and puts them in Alaska.

It’s not exactly subtle. There’s the awkward, artistic daughter – the only difference here being she’s sixteen and into photography; the awkward animal-loving, son gets split into two – so there’s the animal-loving Moon and the awkward  (and gay) Ham; and the stubborn awkward dad who doesn’t like change.

This first episode even focuses on the daughter’s birthday! And that’s like what – the second episode of Bob’s Burgers? Sure, there are some major differences: the Tobin matriarch ran away to Pennsylvania long ago – and the adult son Wolf who lives at home with his fiancée Honeybee. But that isn’t enough to set it apart from the other shows.

All I can see in these characters are their predecessors. They’re more-boring rip-offs. 

 The kids, being older than the Belchers or the Tillermans – are more mature and get along, but they’re still mischievous to an extent and get into shenanigans. Only this time – they do it in Alaska. They all work together in the family business – the fishing boat – except for Judy, who now gets to work twice a week at a photography studio. Which is basically the conflict for the whole first episode.

Cause dads hate change, don’t they?

Honeybee doesn’t get enough characterization to really have any impact or to change the dynamic.  Maybe in the future she’ll have a meaningful character arc and interact with the other characters more – but who knows? 

These are all characters I’ve seen before – and this show doesn’t even have the decency to do anything to set it apart from its predecessors. It’s somehow more generic.  The characters are Bob’s Burgers clones made more boring and put into a boring environment.

At least, it’s not like most adult cartoons. Originally, I thought this was going to be closer to a Brickleberry rip-off because Moon is always dressed in a bear snowsuit – and at least that would be somewhat entertaining. Instead, it’s just….blah.

For a show with three female creators, you would think there would be better and more interesting female characters. And maybe that will happen in a later episode, but it’s hard to do that when you try to establish your SIX main characters in the same episode.

Too Much and Too Little

They sure did the bare minimum into their two main female characters. Judy is just basically an older, slightly less awkward version of Tina Belcher and Honeybee is…a former urbanite living in Alaska and a fiancée ? Like there’s not really a lot to her. Which isn’t great for the show’s leading POC? 

Like this is Alaska shouldn’t there be more indigenous characters who aren’t just in the background? Again, there’s time to expand them in later episodes, but it just feels weird that all the supporting characters are Inuit – but the main family aside from Honeybee are white.

And, of course the young daughter is…boy-obsessed. Bouchard realizes that you can make a teenage girl character who isn’t boy obsessed right? Like yes, puberty is awkward and crushes happen…I’ve been there – but he does realize that doesn’t have to be a main of a female character…right? 


A teenage girl doesn’t need a crush to make her realistic. Has this man ever even talked to a teenage girl recently? Or ever? I get that Tina is a popular character because of her awkwardness but that doesn’t mean you need to try to replicate that vibe every time you make a show. Give me a confident teenage girl, give me a lesbian, give me the star Triathlete…just something else.

It’s not a fully developed character if you just switch up the artistic interest and the boy she likes, and tweak the age a bit. It’s still kind of the same character. 

And Honeybee, the only Black character in the show so far, is mainly characterized by how she left the city for her white fiancé. And I guess I’m just a little nervous about how this will go in the future, considering the controversies people had with Central Park and the creative team for this show is also majorly white.

The male characters are also pretty underdeveloped one-note characters -and there are just so many of them. And none of them have traits that particularly endear me to them. How am I supposed to feel anything for these characters?

The male characters are also pretty underdeveloped one-note characters -and there are just so many of them. And none of them have traits that particularly endear me to them. How am I supposed to feel anything for these characters?

They’re not bad people. They seem relatively happy and stable – but I just don’t care if they succeed or fail – at least in this episode. They’re just there. They’re just not engaging. At least, set up an actual conflict of sorts in the episodes of other shows; namely threats to their livelihoods, but I don’t see that here.

I got nothing. Just some inane family drama it seems like. And it’s not even that funny.

Dull Humor

For some reason – this show thinks comedy is repeating a very specific phrase over and over again. It’s not. Especially when you break the Rule of Three. It just gets annoying and repetitive. I could feel myself cringing – just for how awkward and out of place it sounded as well.

Just having the characters’ repeat and hammer into our heads that Judy has a job twice a week when she’s supposed to be fishing – is just repeating a fact!

I don’t care!!!!! I honestly can’t recall a single funny moment from this episode. The only other jokes I remember from the episode, which also get struck with the repetitive club – is about how Alaska tough is different from “regular tough.” It’s kind of funny – but it only makes it obvious that these writers haven’t been to or actually met anyone from Alaska and are just going off of tired stereotypes.

I don’t know, the vibe just feels off.

Admittedly, it can be hard to establish tone and setting in a pilot. Especially when you’re trying to set up so many characters. But this is also a sitcom – you don’t exactly need strong motivations. Just strong characterization, and we didn’t even get that.

Other than being set in Alaska, by people who have never been to Alaska, I don’t see what makes this show unique. I can definitely see why some people like this show and I do think there’s a lot of potential for this show to get better in the future, once they find their stride. But this episode is definitely not memorable.

I don’t understand how it’s already been renewed for a second season.

And that’s the scoop.


Score: C – 


 Year of release: 2021

Length: 22 minutes

Creators: Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin & Wendy Molyneux & Minty Lewis

Executive producers: Wendy Molyneux & Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, Minty Lewis, Loren Bouchard

Voice Actors: Nick Offerman, Jenny Slate, Will Forte, Dulcé Sloan, Paul Rust, Aparna Nancherla, Megan Mullally, Alanis Morissett


4 thoughts on ““The Great North” isn’t so great”

  1. The second episode is leagues ahead of the pilot. I feel completely different about the show then I did a couple of weeks ago. There is a lot of potential and the cast is phenomenal.

  2. My friends and I love this show, and we’ve watched plenty of sitcoms and shows with similar humor to this one, so it just goes to show that everyone has different tastes in what they do or don’t like…! Thanks for your opinion though.

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