Close Enough Review: Good Enough

Close Enough is a new animated comedy series from Regular Show creator JG Quintel that is now streaming on HBO Max, and while the show itself isn’t as immediately endearing as Quintel’s previous work, it is something you can just sit and watch happily. “Their life may not be ideal but for now, it's close enough,” the description of the show reads. The show is, in a very similar manner, good enough.

The basic premise sees a married couple (Josh and Emily) and their 5-year-old daughter (Candice) living with a divorced couple (Bridgette and Alex) in order to save money in Los Angeles. It’s about struggling through your 30s, raising kids while juggling work, and also sometimes dealing with stripper clowns. As someone also in his 30s, raising kids while juggling work, I can relate. Well, except with the “sometimes dealing with stripper clowns” part.

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(Photo: HBO Max)

While the former might be outside of the usual for anyone that’s come to check out Quintel’s new work, the latter is along the same lines as Regular Show, if more adult, and certainly makes for some enjoyable moments. Unfortunately, these chuckles and laughs were a bit unevenly dispersed, with about half of the episodes featuring some amazing sequences while the other half left me cold. (The stripper clowns are a high point, and while “The Canine Dog” is by far the best episode, the time-traveling snail from another made me laugh the hardest.)

Ultimately, the wacky hijinks of Regular Show but with actual, for-real humans don’t translate perfectly. Some of the episodes feel like they are trying to push together the two halves of Close Enough’s DNA (wild, surrealist humor and relatable struggles like money) without effectively combining the two into a delicious mess. It isn’t easy for every episode to take a grounded plot about making time for passion projects and mesh it into the other half where a DogBoy mutant loves Jim Carrey without leaning too far one way or the other.

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(Photo: HBO Max)

If there is one thing that works shockingly well for the show, it’s the main cast. JG Quintel’s Josh and Gabrielle Walsh’s Emily are two working parents just trying to figure it all out while still heading up a loving family and a divorced couple of Kimiko Glenn’s Bridgette and Jason Mantzoukas’ Alex have all the dysfunction of a cat in a car engine. Mantzoukas, in particular, manages to turn in several standout performances, including in the aforementioned stripper clowns storyline.

This first set of episodes is basically the definition of a mixed bag with some serious highs and lows, but there are more of the highs than there are lows. By the end of the available episodes, it really felt like the show had found a groove that works despite leaning heavily on referential humor. The highest praise I can give Close Enough is that I actually want to see more of it, which is not always the case, and I look forward to whatever comes next.

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Rating: 4 out of 5

Close Enough is now available to stream via HBO Max. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the animated show right here.