Western Animation: The Oblongs

"Oblongs, Oblongs
Down in the Valley where a chemical spill
Came from the people living up on the Hill
There's a family by the landfill with hazardous foam
In their happy, glowing home

So the gist of The Oblongs is this: There's the eponymous family living in the extremely poor half of the town - in this case, the Valley portion of Hill Valley - where the air is toxic and the land befoulednote . There's Bob, the father, who has no arms or legs yet somehow hops his limbless torso around from place to place, handle things with his mouth, and drives a car; Marie Kay "Pickles" Oblong, the alcoholic, chain-smoking mother with a huge beehive wig who used to live in the Hills; Biff and Chip, the oldest and Siamese twin brothers; Milo, their heavily medicated little brother with a myriad of mental and social illnesses; and Beth, the youngest and only daughter, who is possibly the most "normal" of the family despite the large pinkish tumor growing out of her head.

The series covers the family's day to day lives, e.g. Bob working at Globocide, Milo, Biff and Chip getting mocked by the popular people, and Pickles stumbling in and out of intoxication and the occasional lusting over of her husband.

This show was originally part of The WB's crop of shows back when the WB first started out and modeled itself after The Fox Network (which explains the Married... with Children-esque sitcom, Unhappily Ever After). This show, along with Mission Hill and Baby Blues were also a part of the second wave of animated adult sitcoms dueling with The Simpsons (and then-newcomers Family Guy, South Park, and Futurama). This show (and the other two) failed (mostly due to Executive Meddling and low ratings), but have since attained cult classic status, thanks to [adult swim] airing the episodes and the entire series being released on DVD (though Mission Hill was edited to remove the copyrighted music on its soundtrack and Baby Blues hasn't been released on DVD).

The Oblongs was loosely based on characters from Creepy Susie and 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children by Angus Oblong. Despite rumors that he was frozen from the creative process and hated the show, Oblong himself claims he found it So Okay, It's Average, but stressed that it was an adaptation of his book rather than a direct retelling


  • Abhorrent Admirer: Helga on "Milo, Interrupted"note .
  • Ambiguously Gay: Biff, until Milo just went ahead and pointed it out: "You're a latent homosexual!"
    • More like Bi, as Biff does show an interest in women on multiple occasions.
    • Ditto for bullies Jared and Blaine. Again, it's Milo who says what everyone's thinking: "Everyone says you have sex with each other!"
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Used with Milo when his father asks him if he has really gotten over his ADHD.
  • Audience Murmurs: Subverted in "Heroine Addict": Pickles keeps saying things that cause the audience to gasp. However, it's revealed that the gasps are actually coming from Milo's friend, Mikey, who has asthma.
  • Balls of Steel: Painfully subverted when Mayor Bledsoe, whilst doing a number of macho exercises, dares Mr. Klimer to hit him in the testicles with his golf club. Once the blow is made, the mayor stands perfectly still before saying, in an even voice, "That hurts more than I thought it would."
    • Also the source of some marital strife in "Please Be Genital", where Bob gets his wedding-tackle stomped on by a stripper, keeping him from having sex for 2 weeks. He and Pickles had done the deed every night and morning for their 18 years of marriage.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Beth in "The Golden Child" and "Father of The Bribe".
  • Black Humor: So much so that the show has a Broken Base
  • Bloodless Carnage: In one episode, a man gets his head cut off with a jump rope, but there is absolutely no blood.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his narcoleptic Scottie dog.
  • Brain Bleach: Seems to be what people need when they witness Bob's method of playing the piano or organ, considering that he has no arms or legs.
    • Also when the Hill kids saw Helga naked ("Please, God! Someone poke my eyes out!").
  • Butt Monkey: Mikey Cheeks for one, but really all the Valley people.
    • Bob and Helga usually get it much worse than any of the other characters in this show, whether they come from The Hills or The Valley, except for maybe Mikey.
  • Cats Are Mean: "Father of The Bribe" had the city unleash a shipment of cats in heat when Biff and Chip refused to give back the bribe money.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Wonderfully subverted.
    Bob: How could I have been such a fiddly-faddly fool? [aside to Pickles] Excuse the string of F-words.
  • Companion Cube: Beth's "doll", Slowie, which is actually a redecorated bondage whip.
  • Composite Character: Some of the characters are combinations of different characters from the book.
    • Bob is Bean the legless and tailless dog combined with the owner of Scottie the dog.
    • Pickles is Waldo's mom combined with Rosie's mom.
    • Biff and Chip are Jenny, Jenny, Jenny & Babette the Siamese quadruplets combined with Waldo.
  • Conjoined Twins: Biff and Chip, especially awkward because it's implied one of them is gay.
    • It has to be Biff, since Chip had already fallen in love with a girl in one episode where he temporarly attached to Milo.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: George Klimer.
  • Crapsack World: The Valley.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In "Father of The Bribe", Beth finds a switch and starts swinging it.
  • Creepy Child: Beth.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pickles owns this trope (particularly when she's dealing with her old friend, Pristine, who hates her for marrying Bob and giving up her life of being rich, pretty, and popular). Milo has his moments too. Creepy Susie does it in her own morbid way.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Pristine in the first episode says to Pickles "Well, gotta run. I don't want my daughter and her friends exposed to a drunken hosebag. Oh my gosh! Did I say that out loud?"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Beth's growth caused a lot of speculation until Word of God had to finally say on his website "It's not a penis, guys."
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Milo
  • Dork Horse Candidate: How the "Disfigured Debbie" episode kicks off. Needless to say, it does not end well.
  • Driven to Suicide: Attempted, and, thankfully averted, by one of the Debbies by jumping off of a bridge, but, as Milo put it, everyone in the Valley has tried.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Hofschneider.
  • Dumb Blonde: The Debbies.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Creepy Susie.
  • The Eeyore: Creepy Susie.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Bob's lack of limbs.
  • Evil Inc.: Globocide, Bob's employer.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Girl Posse: The Debbies.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Bob and Pickles. It's what keeps their marriage together, and it helps Milo sleep.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Bob Oblong, constantly.
  • Goth: Creepy Susie seems to be a parody of the Gloomy Goth subtrope.
    • More like Existentialist French i.e. Sartre.
  • Groin Attack: Bob went to a strip club to celebrate a co-worker's Bachelor Party, and wound up on stage with a dancer. Despite warnings that "My boys are on the ground floor"...well, It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Happily Married: Bob and Pickles.
  • Has Two Daddies: Peggy.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bob in the first episode.
    Pickles: Beth, honey, nobody likes a tattletale.
    Bob: I do. They're an essential part of any family. You keep right on tattling, sweetie pie.
    Bob: Ehh, criminy.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Helga's parents were forced to eat the other passengers of their plane after it crashed and the food ran out. Her mom even made Helga a necklace from their teeth. Helga gets noticeably freaked out when her dad mentions she "looks good enough to eat".
  • Informed Attractiveness:
    Helga: "I'm here to have tea with my friends, the Debbies." [beat] "I'm beautiful and popular."
    Mrs. Klimer: "Come in, come in!"
    • Not to mention the Hill people in general. If it weren't for Valley people being mutants with obvious deformities, you would not be able to tell.
  • Jerkass: Pretty much everyone from the Hills.
  • Jerk Jock: Jared Klimer, and his little friend Blaine.
  • Karma Houdini: Due to the show's short run, we never really see those stuck-up Hill people get what they deserve, which may have been the point.
    • Though, in "Disfigured Debbie," one of the Debbies got shredded up in the thresher after beating Milo in student council elections. She did get what she deserved (even though she later got plastic surgery to fix her face, returned to her circle of friends, and learned nothing from the experience).
    • Another episode has a Debbie mauled by a bear during a nature hike through the city.
  • Lady Drunk: Pickles.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Beth is this on occasion.
  • Logic Bomb: In the first episode, we get this fun exchange.
    Jared: Stay away from Yvette, or we'll beat you crapless! Comprende?
    Milo: Everything but "comprende".
    Jared: *beat* If you don't know what... aw, screw it, push him down!
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Billy West (of course).
  • Maurice Lamarche: Recurring guest voice.
  • May Contain Evil: Milo's Manic energy drink was popular because it contained morphine from discarded medicine bottles found outside a hospital.
  • Meaningful Name: Hill Valley, which has the "hills" section and the "valley" section.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: Bob for the Beach Episode "My Name Is Robbie", then a shark.
  • Multiboobage: The Nurse. No, it's not sexy at all. Conversely, Peggy. It's still not sexy.
  • The Napoleon: Sometimes Beth.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Creepy Susie.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Willy the exercise instructor in "Heroine Addict" is an obvious stand-in for Billy Blanks, founder of the then-trendy Tae Bo.
  • No Mouth: Beth has no visible mouth, except when she's talking.
  • Noodle Incident: Milo was suspended from school for doing something "unspeakable" with a fish stick. Pickles was about to spank him, but somehow it turned into a Hawaiian lu'au.
    • Milo's story involving panda bears getting into a Dairy Queen and Milo needing a lawyer.
  • The Noseless: Fitting with Angus Oblong's art style, none of the characters have noses.
    • Helga Phugly notably has nostrils while still lacking a nose.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: One of the Debbies plays one like Phantom of the Opera
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with all six of the Debbies.
  • OnlySaneWoman: Beth is the most normal of the Oblongs, both in personality and appearance.
  • Opening Theme: By They Might Be Giants.
  • Our Slogan Is Terrible: "The Restaurant That's Too Cool For a Sign." <—- "That sign doesn't count."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: All you need to do to infiltrate the Debbies is dress exactly like them. Helga is short, fat and ugly and she had them fooled completely — until Helga scarfed down a platter of tea cakes and belched her wig clean off her head.
    • Same with Yvette, the alien girl, who was able to completely hide the fact that she was a Grey by wearing sunglasses.
  • Parental Abandonment: Helga's parents went on vacation and were stranded on an ice floe for a year (until Milo rescued them to save Helga from being adopted by Mrs. Hubbard).
  • Punny Name: Anita Bidet.
  • Quiet Cry for Help: In the episode "Milo Interrupted", when Helga is discovered to be living without parents, she is given to Ms. Hubbard to care for. She then appears at the Oblongs' door with Ms. Hubbard shilling bibles and acts outwardly upbeat and cheerful but when she blinks, she has "HELP ME" written on her eyelids.
  • Running Gag: At least Once per Episode Milo's friend Mikey ends up getting into a horrible accident.
  • Sadist Show
  • Sadist Teacher: Principal Davis.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The credo of everyone living in the Hills.
  • Shout-Out: The Debbies
  • Show Within a Show: Velva the Warrior, a very Merchandise-Driven parody of Xena: Warrior Princess. With very... interesting names. ("Placentor, no!")
  • Stepford Smiler: Pristine Klimer.
  • Tag Team Twins: Biff and Chip compete in the same sports at school.
    • Although one episode had one of them competing in a wrestling tournament one-armed while another was bandaged up from injuries he incurred earlier in the episode (remember, they're conjoined...)
  • Take That: Mayor Johnny "The Mayor" Bledsoe, a dig at pro-wrestlers-turned-elected-officials.
    • A few subtle ones are done toward The Simpsons (the scene in "Heroine Addict" with the family getting their picture taken at the mall has them dressed as The Simpsons [with Pickles as Marge, Biff and Chip as Homer, Bob as Maggie, Milo as Bart, and Beth as Lisa) and the WB frog (the scene in "Flush, Flush Sweet Helga" where Helga sees a spider advancing on a frog in a top hat that's trapped in a spider web).
  • Thick-Line Animation
  • Toxic, Inc.: Globocide is one. Their legitimate products are poisonous with the nasty byproducts thereof, including the chemical spill mentioned in the theme tune, being responsible for the deformities of the people down in the Valley.
    • This is to such a degree that, in the episode where Milo makes his energy drink, Mr. Klimer and the other executives need to have it explained that they can't keep selling it as-is because morphine's a controlled substance.
  • Urban Segregation: Enforced at just about every corner.
  • Valley Girl: The Debbies. All six of them.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Plumbing issues leave the entire city save the Oblongs' house without water. In order to cut down on bathroom lines, a hundred-dollar cash slot is installed on the door. When Bob's boss tries to use it and his bill is rejected, another character quips "the great equalizer".
  • Visual Pun: Pickles escalating "Oh god, oh god, oh GOD!" as she and Bob have immodest sex next to Milo's room is visualized in his dream as his mother selling tickets to a screening of Oh, God!.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In "Disfigured Debbie" when the kids walk in on the disfigured Debbie making herself puke after binging on candy.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Beth.
  • Workaholic: Bob Oblong.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In "Father of the Bribe", Biff and Chip get in a drag race with the bullies Jared and Blaine. Biff and Chip manage to stop their car just before it careens off a cliff, and breathe a sigh of relief when they exit the car safely and the car's okay. But immediately after that, Jared and Blaine drive up and kick Biff and Chip's car off the cliff.
  • You Are the New Trend: The family's lack of funds force Milo to go to school on a rainy day wearing a bucket on his head and a trash bag as a raincoat. The hill kids make fun of him, until the Fonzie stand in says he likes his bucket. Milo shows up at school the next day to find all of the hill kids wearing buckets and accusing him of copying them. The rest of the plot focuses on his mother helping him stay one step ahead of them.