Western Animation: Stressed Eric
Think modern life is stressful? Well just be thankful that you're not Eric Feeble, the perpetually struggling forty-something and unfortunate star of this short-lived British animated series. The series lasted for 13 episodes, broadcast in two seasons. The first season was broadcast in 1997, the second in 1999. The first series (but not
the second) was co-produced by Klasky-Csupo
Eric is a divorced father of two. He is the primary caregiver for both of his kids. Which is a stressful duty. Brian, Eric's son, seems to have a learning disability. He is 9 to 10-years-old, but has already flunked classes for three years. He doesn't speak at all, wanders aimlessly, and has a tendency to place random items into his mouth. Claire, Eric's daughter, is notably frail. She is 6-years-old and her immune system is hypersensitive. She has allegic reactions to just about everything, and has to eat special regulation food. Which doesn't stop her from craving for regular food. Maria, their Portuguese au-pair, is alcoholic. His ex-wife Liz currently lives with another man, and tries to rediscover herself through following New Age
ideas. Which doesn't prevent her from incessantly calling Eric when she feels like it.
The work environment of Eric isn't much better. His office is sandwiched between the janitor's closet and the men's toilets. Paul Power, his boss, is a very demanding individual. Never satisfied with Eric's work, Mr. Power has demoted him in previous occasions. And is always ready to press him further. Eric still has a personal secretary, Alison Scabie. Unfortunately for him, she provides no actual help. She treats the office line as her personal phone, speaking constantly with her friends. Leaving Eric saddled with her work as well as his own.
Eric has an additional reason to feel like a failure. He compares himself to neighbor Ray Perfect, a man who seems to have the perfect family and a great career. Eric finds himself needing the assistance of Doc, his family doctor, who is ready to provide with plenty of medication. Too bad said medication has nothing to do with his stress.
Tropes featured include:
- The Ace: Eric's next-door neighbors, the Perfect family.
- The Alcoholic: Maria.
- Always Someone Worse: The Perfects.
- Beehive Hairdo: Mrs. Perfect.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The Perfects! Oh boy, the Perfects!
- Big Eater: Brian will eat almost everything from VHSes to people's hair.
- Blondes Are Evil: The Perfects.
- British Brevity: The show lasted for 13 episodes.
- Butt Monkey: Eric. Oh dear god.
- Catch Phrase: Eric: MARIA!!!, GET A MOVE ON!, ALISON! WILL YOU SHUT UP?
- Maria: Oh, go, please!
- Mrs. Wilson: Morning\Afternoon\Evening, Mr. Eric. Just\Still off to the post. Sometimes it's Nearly there! (especially at night) In you go, you little monkey!
- Liz: THIS IS EXACTLY WHY WE SPLIT UP, ERIC!!!
- Alison: I'm busy!
- Mr. Perfect: I will AWAY!!!
- Mrs. Perfect: Ah, Eric!, Hello, Eric. How art thou?
- P.P. bribing Mr. Perfect's job: Catch you later, hero!
- Doc: Relaaaaaaaaaaaaax.
- Chick Magnet: Doc.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The cleaning lady at Eric's work throws out all his work at the end of each day while singing "La la la-la laaah, stick it in the bin!"
- Crapsack World: The whole world seems to be out to get Eric.
- Cross-Popping Veins: Eric gets them several times an episode. At the end, they get so bad that they grab him by his throat!
- Lampshaded in Pony when Claire's diary says that she is too scared to ask Eric, because of this trope.
- Cultural Translation: Yes, The BBC have broadcast Dino Babies, Little Bear, and Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars with the American voices still intact, but Stressed Eric? The cartoon was made by Klasky-Csupo (creators of Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys), but it was the BBC that chose the voice acting for the characters and the setting in it!
- Deliberately Cute Child: Claire.
- The Ditz: Brian.
- Door To Door Episode: In the first 1999 episode, Liz does this to create a fanbase for the hedgehogs. Everyone refuses.
- Downer Beginning, Middle and End: Played for Laughs, depending on your sense of humour.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Claire again.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Doc.
- Express Lane Limit: One episode has three such lanes: "Less than ten items but more than four", "less than four items but more than one", and "one item or less" (which the Eric promptly uses to checkout one potato.)
- Failure Is the Only Option
- Funny Foreigner: Maria to an extent.
- Girlish Pigtails: Claire.
- Granola Girl: Liz.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: This is another member of the One Word Episode Title club (see also Lou Grant, Smallville, The Secret Circle, Revenge, Rosie and Jim, and Tots TV).
- Ill Girl: Claire. She's allegic to virtually everything.
- It's All About Me: Liz, who refuses to take any time out of her schedule to help Eric with the kids.
- Jerkass: Pretty much everyone who isn't a Feeble.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Maria to an extent.
- Kafka Komedy: Eric Feeble can't catch a break. Ever.
- Lighter and Softer: While both seasons feature bad luck for Eric Feeble, the second season isn't so relentlessly oppressive towards its main character.
- Meaningful Name: The Feebles and the Perfects.
- Not Quite Dead: In Pony, Eric comes home to see that Brian's hair is alight after he eats a chemistry set, but later in the episode, he's alive and well, because you don't have to kill anyone off forever in fiction!
- Once an Episode / Running Gag: The old lady's green letter dropping into the sewer.
- Eric's head vein choking him by episode's end.
- Out of Order: "Au Pair" was supposed to be the finale, but instead aired as the second to last episode.
- Paintball Episode
- Parody Sue: The Perfects.
- Sadist Show
- Same Language Dub: For US airings, Eric's lines were dubbed over by Hank Azaria, making Eric an American living in Britain.
- Sassy Secretary: Allison.
- Seriously Scruffy: Plays this trope for laughs with Eric. As he gets more stressed, the vein on his temple throbs until it eventually bursts out and strangles him. Naturally, his environment tends to be rather cluttered, too.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Maria, on the one occasion she makes an effort.
- Ship Tease: In "Au Pair" it's hinted Eric and the newly rehabilitated Maria may become an item... shortly before they're killed.
- Stereo Fibbing: Occurs in "Drool".
- Strictly Formula: The first season was very much this: Eric is faced with a looming deadline (typically work-related), tries to meet it, but the whole world prevents him from doing so. The second season was far less formulaic. However, both seasons still ended each episode with Eric's head vein choking him by the episode's end (an exception is "Au Pair", which ends with a rival maid pointing her tank at Eric and the family, and the four screaming).
- Subverted Catchphrase: In one episode, Eric has rats in his house and asks Doc what he should do. Instead of telling Eric to relax (like he usually does), Doc says to panic.
- Suicide as Comedy: In "Pony" an entry in Claire's diary implied she was going to die, because she's never going to get a pony.
- The Talk: Eric gives one in "Au Pair".
- They Killed Kenny: Eric dies of stress at the end of every episode. Save Au pair.
- The Voiceless: Brian.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: In the first opening when Eric finds Maria hungover.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: An incredibly dark example to boot.
- Really any time things seem to be going well for Eric you can expect it not to last long.
- "Au Pair" ends with Maria finally getting her act together, only for her and the rest of the family to be killed by one of the failed auditionees for her job.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Maria.