Kevin:So, this is Mission Hill! Andy:Don't get excited. It doesn't have anything you would like. Kevin:Well, it looks very colorful.
~ Andy and Kevin French, as the latter moves to Mission Hill for the first time
Gus: I need some condoms so I can make love to my lover. And don't smirk - they're for gay sex.
Mission Hill, a short-lived animated series that ran from 1999-2000 (and a brief revival in 2002), followed the lives of 24-year-old slacker Andy French and his Fish out of Water brother Kevin, an Odd Couple forced to share a loft apartment in a quirky downtown neighborhood. The show had eighteen episodes, but only thirteen ever saw broadcast.Despite its failure, Mission Hill has some noteworthy history attached to it:
It has since become one of the last animated shows to use traditional, hand-painted cel animation. (Later shows such as Drawn Together used the technique for stylistic reasons.)
It featured an on-screen homosexual kiss (between Gus and Wally in the pilot episode) from a couple established to be male homosexuals, making it one of the first TV shows of any kind to do so. (Only a 1990 episode of The Simpsons ["Simpson and Delilah"] and the first season of Picket Fences in 1992 [which featured a male-on-male kiss in one episode and a female-on-female kiss in another] predate the episode in this regard.)
In one of the greatest trope aversions of all time, elderly gay couple Gus and Wally had such rich personalities and unique storylines that the list of tropes below contains no Stereotype Gay entries. (We find it unlikely that "Gay men fall in love while making a MST3K-worthy sci-fi movie" and "Gay man gets knife stuck in head; gay partner welds birdcage and tennis racket to it" will ever become tropes. Prove us wrong, TV networks.) The show won an award from GLAAD for showing homosexual characters in a positive and non-stereotypical light.
The animation in Mission Hill is impossible to reproduce due to its painted cell/bright neon style having never been used since the show's cancellation. So further episodes are all but possible, unfortunately.
Mission Hill initially aired on The WB, but the show didn't fit in for a network that had branded itself as, in the words of the show's creators (former Simpsons showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein), "the teenage girl network." The show received a minor revival on [adult swim] thanks to that network rebroadcasting it.
Mission Hill contains examples of the following tropes:
Actor Allusion: Gwen has a poster of The Go-Gos and it's established that she's a fan of the group. Gwen was voiced by Jane Wedlin, rhythm guitarist of The Go Go's.
One episode, Posey, played by Vicki Lewis, tries to "find herself" by meditating. At point, her spirit guide - a ghost version of her - says she has to walk across an incredibly long bridge, then say they can take her Miata instead. In the season two Christmas episode of Newsradio, Beth (Lewis) and every one in the office is given a Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Abhorrent Admirer: Toby towards Gwen in the unfinished episode "Pretty In Pink (a.k.a Crap Gets In Your Eyes)," much to her horror and Andy's annoyance.
The Alcoholic: Stogie the dog. No one can leave booze out, as he's been known to drink it. It has been mentioned in the pilot that Andy's dad had to spray his liquor cabinet with dog repellent.
Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Andy has one when he loses his job, and takes a (temporary) job as a mascot for an ice cream shop. On top of that, he has to stand on a traffic median, where he passes out from the exhaust fumes.
Andy: ...and when I came to, there were all these kids standing around me, crying.
Big Ball of Violence: The animation is so good and detailed, that all of the comical fight is visible when Andy and Kevin roughhouse. The cartoony dust cloud just appears for stylistic reasons.
Bi the Way: In an unaired, unfinished episode, Posey and Gwen dance sexually together at a night club. While Gwen has the excuse of being drunk, Posey doesn't.
Andy: How much has Posey had to drink?
Jim: She doesn't drink.
Andy: Right. Damn!
Biting-the-Hand Humor: Andy during his time on The Real World quips to the producers, "You think I'm MTV material? I'm not even WB material!" The gag goes two ways, as not only is this a burn on The WB and its crummy programming, but Mission Hill was originally pitched to MTV, but MTV already had Downtown (which forced Mission Hill to abandon its original title, The Downtowners) and Daria and passed up on Mission Hill.
Cardboard Box Home: In the episode "Happy Birthday, Kevin (or Happy Birthday, Douchebag)", Kevin accidentally bumps into a cardboard box on the sidewalk and a homeless man jumps out of it.
Homeless Man: Hey! You smashed my porch! That is a fine, expensive porch! Pay me! Hey, pay me, yuppie man! Hey hey, I'm talkin' to you!
Character Development: After the "Happy Birthday Kevin" episode, Andy starts to make an effort to be a lot nicer to Kevin in any episodes made after this, compare this to the earlier episodes, where Andy would Take a Level in Jerk Ass and rip on Kevin for no apparent reason. It also shows Kevin beginning to move on from his previous coddled, sheltered life with his parents and embracing his newfound liberty.
In the unfinished episode "I Was A Teenaged Porn Star" (or, "Bye, Bye Nerdie"). Kevin changes so much from living in the city that he finds it hard to adjust back to living with his parents again (after they find that Kevin is in the background of a porno flick and decide that he shouldn't be in the city anymore). He wonders that if his mother was always annoying and smothering to him and he just didn't notice it before. Incidentally, it also shows his parents having grown so accustomed to having each other to themselves that they too start to find it annoying to be living with Kevin again.
Early-Bird Cameo: Several characters can be seen in the establishing shot of Mission Hill in the first episode, before theyre introduced as characters, such as George, The Republican Vampire, Sasha The Hipster and the Nice Freak.
Extreme Omnivore: Jim and Stogie. One episode has Jim and Stogie gradually eating the couch over the course of the episode.
Fish out of Water: Kevin in the overall show, Andy in "The Big Ass Viacom Lawsuit" where he is completely unable to adapt to the life in The Real World house.
Foil: Andy and Kevin. Andy is a world-weary slacker who spends his time drinking, trying to get laid, and griping about work instead of working. Kevin is an idealistic workaholic who spends his time studying, trying to get into a good college and playing video games.
Friends Rent Control: Played with early on, then averted. Andy is working at a water mattress store at (presumably) just above minimum wage, Posey is just there (though one episode, she did sell organic vegetables), and no one knew what Jim did for a living until Kevin came along, yet they live in a very spacious apartment (with a second floor!) in a decent building with neighbors they like, in a part of town that doesn't seem run-down or depressed. Then Jim is revealed to be a highly paid corporate executive with tons of clout for basically being a computer whiz. This isn't revealed until Andy loses his job and a tooth, and Jim lets him use his health insurance to have it fixed (and eventually gets him a job), because Andy never asked - even though he's Jim's best and oldest friend (though Kevin did take an interest in Jim's life).
However, it's mentioned in "The Big Ass Viacom Lawsuit" that space in the city in general (and their building in particular) is rather cheap, but would become more expensive if The Real World continued filming there.
Future Me Scares Me: In the script for the unproduced "Death Of a Yale Man", Kevin has a vision of himself as he would be if he fails to get into Yale - A drunken, apathetic loser, who spends his time drinking and surfing for Internet porn, and still living with a now overweight and balding Andy. He freaks out so badly at the image that it convinces him to go forward with the plot of the episode, faking a lethal illness to get an honorary Yale scholarship.
Get Back in the Closet: Averted, as Gus and Wally aren't portrayed as stereotypically gay (though Wally has that effeminate voice that goes with being Camp Gay; it's just not as overblown as it is on other shows) and there was no censorship issues over it (no episode bans note though the episode where Kevin finds out that Wally was a movie director who threw away his career when he fell in love with Gus didn't air when it aired on WB, but that was because the WB cancelled the show after the episode where Andy loses his job when Ron gets arrested for tax evasion or requests for a higher content rating).
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In an organ shop, there's a T-shirt that says 'Kiss my organ', and a sign over a piano that says "Finger Me".
On the episode where Kevin tries to crack the SAT code and Posey puts out an ad for massages (only to have men think she's a hooker who does erotic massages due to a misprint), when the pimp knocks at the door, Andy says, "Yeah, keep banging. That'll make me come faster."
Girlfriend in Canada: Played straight with Kevin and George in the pilot, where Toby states that George had a girlfriend in Singapore, to which Kevin mentions that he used to claim that he had a girlfriend in Canada ("because it's so far away, no one could ever check"). He asks George if it's the same for him, whereupon he replies that "it's a more believable ethnic variation." Toby then yells at the two to stop bragging about their girlfriends.
Andy vs the Real World (The Big-Ass Viacom Lawsuit)
Andy and Kevin Make a Friend (One Bang for Two Brothers)
Andy Gets a Promotion (How to Get Head in Business Without Really Trying)
Happy Birthday Kevin (Happy Birthday, Douchebag)
Plan 9 from Mission Hill (I Married a Gay Man from Outer Space)
The unfinished Pretty In Pink (Crap Gets In Your Eyes).
Intergenerational Friendship: Everyone in the apartment building, to varying degrees, the youngest, not counting Baby Nameless who is only 1 at this point, being Kevin at 17, to Wally and Gus who are in their late 60s.
Major Injury Underreaction: In one episode, Gus has a KNIFE stabbed into his head that he refuses to get medical attention for, to the point where Wally resorts to welding miscellaneous junk to the knife so the added public gawking will force Gus to have the knife removed.
No Name Given: Baby Nameless, the child of Carlos and Natalie, who they haven't named yet to avoid imprinting traditional gender roles upon him/her.
Noodle Incident: The infamous "crisis". We never find out what exactly happened, only that because politicians were responsible, America had to rely on celebrities to fix everything. Steven Spielberg addressed the nation at one point, and there was a compound raid.
When Gus gets a knife stuck in his head the most explanation we get is "Some punk attacked me on the bridge; threw him over."
Poor Man's Porn: After Kevin is reprimanded in court for reading pornography he insists that he'll "stick to lingerie catalogues from now on"
Raging Stiffie: Andy, after Shelley the stripper gives him a lap dance. He was about to leave, but looked down and decided to sit it out.
Record Needle Scratch: When Andy is trying to tell Gwen he loves her in the unfinished "Pretty In Pink", he is completely drowned out by barking dogs and blaring salsa music from the surrounding buildings. Finally, he snaps and yells out "GWEN, I LOVE YOU!!!!" at which point the music aprubtly stops.
Quirky Town: The Mission Hill neighborhood, to the point that Kevins parents are convinced that the neighborhood is unsafe for him and has him move to Wyoming with them in the script for the last planned episode "I Was A Teenage Porn Star".
Shown Their Work: Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein put enormous efforts to make bus schedules and traffic to make Mission Hill work as a city, something that's barely noticeable even if you are looking for it.
Straight Gay: Wally and Gus are gay, but outside of acting like a straight couple would, you wouldn't know it, as they aren't stereotypically portrayed as such. Gus a bit more so than Wally.
Small Name, Big Ego: Andy seems to view his abilities and life as much better than they actually are, except in cartooning, which he's actually pretty good at.
His life is pretty damn awesome. Minimal work for maximum profit (when he worked for Jim at the ad agency, not when he worked for Ron at the waterbed store), a sweet-ass apartment with neighbors he likes (a rarity) and the uncanny ability to charm most women who would be considered incredibly out-of-his-league.
Trademark Favorite Food: Andy with Bugles and malt liquor, to the point where he essentially subsisted on Bugles during his apathetic unemployment phase after the waterbed store closed. Jim is also usually seen eating burgers.