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Exclusive: ‘Birdgirl’ Co-Creator Erik Richter Offers a Preview of Season 2

Birdgirl
'Birdgirl' returns this month with more character-driven comedy mayhem for adult audiences.

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Exclusive: ‘Birdgirl’ Co-Creator Erik Richter Offers a Preview of Season 2

Just in time for the June 19 second season premiere of Birdgirl on Adult Swim (and June 20 on HBO Max), the show’s executive producer and co-creator Erik Richter answers a few of our burning questions about one of the world’s quirkiest superhero/CEOs and her very awkward teammates. The show, which first debuted in April of 2021, finds Judy Ken Sebben (voiced by Paget Brewster) and the Birdteam attempting to navigate the headaches of modern corporations — tackling everything from ethics in new tech to cancel culture and rejuvenating skin sack health fads!

Here is what Erik told us:

Birdgirl logo

Animation Magazine: First up, congrats on the new season of your clever show. What would you like to reveal to us about the second season?

Erik Richter: Thanks! As much as I thought the first season was great, this one’s better. Season 1 was about Judy being forced to take over her dad’s socially irresponsible brick-and-mortar company, this one is about her having to own the fact that she’s the boss and there’s no one but her to blame for the damage it causes. I love comedy where people are knocked down a couple of pegs, and there’s a lot of that this season.

Also, the characters — played by our unfathomably talented cast — are coming into their own, which makes it feel like they actually live together in their own little world. Relationships we didn’t imagine in the first season have suddenly blossomed with less obvious pairings like Meredith [voiced by Negin Farsad] and Dog With Bucket Hat [John Doman], who have an incredible comedy chemistry. Since the beginning, our Adult Swim development executive, Jordan Askins, has really pushed us to lean into relationships and not just make it about plot. She saw the magic in the workplace comedy even more than we did. Her urging us in this direction kept us on point and made the show markedly better.

Birdgirl

Paul (Tony Hale) helps Dog With Bucket Hat (John Doman) and Brian O’Brien (Rob Delaney) see eye to eye in ‘Birdgirl’

What was the toughest part about putting together the sophomore adventures of this eccentric heroine?

Other than the fact the entire season was produced remotely, the toughest part was winnowing down 15-or-so episode ideas to six. The writers rooms for Seasons 1 and 2 have been the best rooms I’ve had the fortune to participate in. So much talent and funny thinking — which, during COVID, is saying something. The Season 2 room broke all these stories during the darkest days of the pandemic. You’d think the prospect of imminent death would be creatively stifling, but it was exactly the opposite. In a lot of ways, the Season 2 team were each others’ salvation through some scary times. We virtual-hugged a lot.

What kind of reactions did you get from fans from the first season? What were the most memorable ones?

Is it okay to say I’m not really sure? I have no online presence and I go out of my way not to discuss work when I’m not working and my interactions with human beings took something of a hit during COVID so I’m not altogether sure what people’s reactions have been. Folks I respect have told me it’s funny, so I trust it’s funny. I live much of my life offline and not talking about what I do. A few of my friends don’t even know I do this for a living. Yes, I’m an odd person.

Birdgirl

Negin Farsad as Meredith and Paget Brewster as Judy/Birdgirl in ‘Birdgirl’

Where is the animation produced and how long does it take to put a season together from script to delivery?

This season is being produced by Global Mechanic in Vancouver, and I can’t speak highly enough of them. They picked up where Awesome Inc. (our great Season 1 Atlanta-based studio) left off and they didn’t miss a beat. We focus to a large degree on facial acting in Birdgirl, which is somewhat unusual for TV animation. But since we’re concentrating on what’s happening inside the character, the best way to communicate that is through tight shots and more complex facial expressions. I know I’m probably on our rigging team’s hit-list, but they have done an incredible job.

Global really has built an amazing team of artists: Our animation leads, Tim Stuby, Rachel Stolberg and Eden Timm; artists Pia Guerra, Adam de Souza, Lily Snowden-Fine and Carly Monardo, who designed our characters; our board team, led by Drew Schmidt and Mike Owens and a bunch of folks who’ve added beauty and jokes at every stage. And, if nothing else makes this piece, please mention my creative partner: Supervising director Rich Ferguson-Hull, whose wisdom, calm and sense of humor are far too good for the likes of me.

How many people work on the show overall — and which animation tools do they use to create it?

About 100 or so people. Harmony.

Birdgirl

Birdgirl

What do you think the original fans of Harvey Birdman would think of the show?

In developing Birdgirl, an obvious move would’ve been to have her team up with Harvey and throw up a shingle outside their law office in Ft. Lauderdale. It would’ve been a perfectly fine show, but Franklin & Bash already did it. We were more taken by the idea of what it means to be the daughter of a guy who polluted and #MeToo-ed his way to the top. No offense to Phil, still dear to our hearts, but he left a big mess to clean up.

We definitely considered how OG Harvey Birdman fans would react to a show without the old characters and really hoped they’d give the updated take a chance and join us on the journey. We like to think of the two shows as a parallel existence where they all live in the same world but work in different office buildings. I have a fantasy that the Birdman cast lived — and the entire show took place — in a terrarium in Judy’s office. Can you imagine being trapped in a terrarium with Peter Potamus?

I guess the hope is that anyone who loved Harvey Birdman checks out the show and discovers Birdgirl has the same fast-paced, self-deprecating tone and is a loving companion to Birdman.

Birdgirl

Birdgirl

What are some of the funniest moments of the new season?

  • Judy unboxes her favorite childhood toy that, unfortunately, everyone else thinks is a sex toy.
  • Meredith is tasked with shepherding Dog With Bucket Hat through the five stages of grief, which, because it’s Dog, have all been distilled down to “anger” and “depression.”
  • The Birdteam take down a brocialist.
  • We also learn Birdgirl always dates guys Judy hates, and Gillian has the power of telekinesis — but only with baked goods

Why do you think audiences should tune in?

Because, hopefully, they get to experience the same joy we felt making it.

Birdgirl

Kether Donohue as Gillian in ‘Birdgirl’

What is your take on the booming adult animation scene in 2022?

It’s never been more vibrant. If you have any doubts just try to book voiceover talent on short notice.

What are the animated shows or movies that changed your life?

Some animation-related people whose work I admire: Jay Ward, Ed Benedict, Aardman Animations, Mary Blair (my first memory of self-hypnosis by book), Genndy Tartakovsky and Harvey Birdman. Without him, I’d be selling time-shares … which I’m sure some of my friends think I do (see above).

What do you think Birdgirl would think of the scary state of our country in 2022?

She’s such an optimist and defender of all that’s right and good, I think she’d look for the positive no matter how bleak things seem. Unfortunately, her best friend is a massive cynic and mind reader who loves to put a sag in Birdgirl’s shorts.

Birdgirl

Birdgirl

Birdgirl Season 2 premieres on Adult Swim on June 19 at midnight ET/PT, available the next day on HBO Max.

 

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