There's a spot unlike the rest
An actual oasis
It’s like New York, but undressed!
I'm talking 'bout a place where all the bustle seems to pass
What’s this place I speak of?
Why, I'm so glad you asked... " ♫
Central Park is an American musical Animated Sitcom created by Loren Bouchard, Nora Smith, and Josh Gad. The story revolves around the Tillerman family, who lives in the titular park of New York City, and they try to save the park from a business entrepreneur who wants to replace Central Park with a bunch of condos and retail space.
Originally created for Fox, the project was shelved, then bought by Apple TV+. The first season of the series made its debut on May 29, 2020. The first eight episodes of the second season premiered on June 25, 2021. The second half of the season aired between March 4 and April 8, 2022. A third season premiered on September 9, 2022. On December 3, 2023, it was announced that the show had been canceled.
Central Park provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion:
- In the song "Weehawken", Helen (played by Daveed Diggs) makes mention of the Hamilton-Burr duel that took place in said township.
- In "The Lyin' in Winter", Birdie mentions that he can usually always tell when it's going to snow, as part of his narrator abilities. Appropriate, considering his actor is famous for playing a snowman.
- All-Knowing Singing Narrator: Birdie. Although, it's implied that he is just crazy and has No Social Skills. Josh Gad even said in an interview that he's a bit more of an Unreliable Narrator than usual for this trope.
- The appearance of a second Narrator, Griffin, implies that there's some truth to Birdie's position as the narrator and there's some force assigning them the role.
- Art Shift: When the show switches to Molly's comic, it's in black and white and resembles her drawing.
- Additionally, certain Imagine Spots, like those seen in "Poops I'll Pick Up" and "Too Close", shift to a more simplified style.
- Creative Closing Credits: In the credits during Season 1, they would show images of different areas of the park. In the Season 2 credits, they would show images of events that occurred in their respective episodes through a kaleidoscope effect. And the Season 3 credits would show silhouette of characters dancing in from respective episode, with the exception of the first episode of Season 3 which shows previous dances from Season 1 and 2.
- Creator Cameo: The main songwriters of the show (Kate Anderson, Elyssa Samsel, and Brent Knopf) led their voices in background vocals in some of the songs.
- Cultural Translation:
- During Griffin's song "First Class Hands", he mentioned that he once met Fred Durst. In the Italian dub, they replaced Fred Durst with Michael Bublé, a Canadian singer who's an Italian descendent.
- In the Italian dub of "Live It Up Tonight", they used the Italian title version of the Home Alone franchise Mom, I Missed the Plane.
- In the Italian dub of "A Fish Called Snakehead", instead of the Tillermans wanting to eat spicy cheese bread, they changed it to wanting pecorino sandwich.
- In the European French dub of "Episode One", the hot lips turtlehead flowers is called gladiolus flowers instead, despite the fact Central Park doesn't have those flowers.
- Dark Reprise:
- In "Episode One":
- "Shampagne Was My Best Friend" is one for "Poops I'll Pick It Up", in which Cole mourns no longer being with Shampagne and is consoled by his father.
- "Central To My Plot" is Bitsy singing about their plot for Central Park, to the tune of "Central In My Heart".
- In "Dog Spray Afternoon", while "If There's A Will" already dealt with Helen's grievances and desire to kill Shampagne for the will, the reprise has Helen even angrier and more focused on killing Shampagne.
- In "Squirrel, Interrupted", Paige sings a reprise of "Can We Do Today Again?", after she felt horrible for allowing Molly to play against a chess master and losing to him. She thinks that Molly's loss will turn her off the game of chess for good.
- In "Mother's Daze", Helen sings a reprise to "This Is It". While the first song is celebrating her first day off in forever, the reprise shows that she can't really enjoy sitting around, doing nothing.
- In the Season 2 finale, it's Bitsy who sings a reprise to the "I Want" Song "Own It", about whether it's worth getting what they first wanted if it means losing something important.
- In "Episode One":
- Double Meaning: A lot of songs run on this.
- In "Hat Luncheon," when Helen meets a former maid named Lucy who inherited everything from her previous employer, Lucy gives Helen advice on waiting to inherit's Bitsy's fortune by telling her "Where there's a will, there's way", and then whispers to her to make sure she's in the will. The phrase means to have determination to overcome a difficult obstacle, which Helen is going to need if she continues to be Bitsy's assistant, and if Bitsy has a will then there's a way to inherit everything from her. The double meaning is used again in Helen's song "If There's a Will".
- The song "Own It" is, at various times, either about being incredibly self-confident or about literally owning things.
- The song "Show Up" is both about impressing people and about physically attending an event.
- The song "Up To Here" is about how high the snow is, how fed up the New Yorkers are with it, and, in Birdie's case, how he's lost his narrator's omniscience (he knows everything that will happen "up to here").
- The Villain Song "Time to Close" is both about how it's time to close a big business deal, and about how it's time for the park to close.
- Dub Name Change: Molly's superhero persona in her comic, "Fista Puff", is renamed in the European French dub as "Poings Touffus", meaning "Bushy Fists".
- Failed a Spot Check: The Tillermans still haven't noticed that Birdie is watching them from a distance, especially when he's watching them in their home through the windows. Even when he's talking loud enough for them to hear, like in "Dog Spray Afternoon" and "Caste Sweet Castle", they still haven't notice him. Birdie got caught one time by Owen in "Hot Oven" when Birdie was going to check on Owen's progress with the pizza but is Owen washing his hands and is already facing out the window. Owen questions what's he doing at his house, but Birdie changes the subject by asking what he's cooking and it's never brought up again.
- Foreshadowing: Brendan says "Aunt Bitsy?" during the brawl in the "Hat Luncheon" episode, alluding to his relationship that's later revealed in "Hot Oven."
- Giftedly Bad: Neither Ambrose nor Bitsy are coherent as writers. They rush to be the first to finish up a memoir, only to be rejected by the publisher as being entirely incoherent
- Hard Truth Aesop: In "Lunar Palaver", Owen witness Cole being treated like a threat by a racist lady and he would later have a talk with Cole about that incident, who had no idea the lady was being racist towards him. The episode makes it clear that there's still racism out there and it can happen to everyone, regardless of age, and it's unavoidable for some people. Owen even tells Cole that while he hopes it doesn't happen again, moments like that will definitely happen again and it's best to be prepared for it.
- "I Want" Song:
- In "Episode One", "Own It" has Owen singing about wanting the Turtleheads to be appreciated, Paige wanting to be an Intrepid Reporter, Molly singing about her crush, Cole & Bitsy about Shampagne, and Helen about inheriting the Brandenham Fortune.
- In "Skater's Circle", Molly, along with Cole, sings "Weirdos Make Great Superheroes", with Molly singing she wants to be a superhero while Cole sings about wanting to reunite with Shampagne.
- Intrepid Reporter: Paige wants to be this type of reporter instead of writing fluff piece for her newspaper.
- Is This Thing Still On?: In "Rival Busker", when Dmitry asks Bitsy if he could have his daughter's wedding at her hotel on the phone, Bitsy tells Helen to mute the call and then tells her she's going to pretend her hotel is fully booked so she can leverage with him, until Helen tells her she hasn't muted it yet. With the secret out, Bitsy tells Dmitry he could have his daughter's wedding in the secret ballroom in her hotel in exchange for talking business, until Helen reveals she muted the call, frustrating Bitsy.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Owen has a system to help keep Central Park trash-free, Birdie describes Owen's system as a "Garbage Ballet", which leads to the titular song where the park workers and garbagemen do ballet dancing while transporting the garbage.
- Musicalis Interruptus: Molly's song, "I'm the Worst", is interrupted by Hazel when she gets fed up with Molly not contributing to their science project.
- No Fourth Wall: For Birdie, the narrator, he is totally aware he is part of a show, and knows everything currently going, even events that haven't happened yet. He is even capable of knowing where the camera is focusing.
- Once per Episode: After "Episode One", every episode has three or four songs, some of them may be a reprise song, and at least one song is written by a guest songwriter.
- Perpetual Frowner: Even when the whole cast is singing, they're showing frowns on their faces.
- Pep-Talk Song:
- In "Hat Luncheon", after Paige tells Owen to not think about the failure and only think about the future, he sings "Don't Think About the Failure" to himself to focus on giving a good speech during the Hat Luncheon.
- In "Rival Busker", "Show Up" has Paige and Molly singing to Anya, who would later join in, to pep her up when she gets cold feet for her wedding, telling her she needs to trust her gut and take a chance.
- Prehensile Hair: Molly envisions her superhero persona, Fista-Puffs, with this power with her puffy pigtails acting like arms.
- Punny Name: Fista-Puffs, Molly's superhero alter-ego, is a play off the term "fisticuffs", only she uses her hair puffs to punch people. In Season 2, Episode 3, Fista-Puffs makes the character Feets-tapuffs, who fights with her feet.
- Quarreling Song:
- In "Hat Luncheon", "The Park is Mine" has Bitsy instigate an argument between the politicians and socialites at the Hat Luncheon over the park's funds being frozen.
- In "Rival Busker", Griffin and Birdie debate what is to be too close to someone physically or emotionally through a song called "Too Close".
- Saving the Orphanage: Bitsy, an extremely wealthy woman, decides that she's going to buy Central Park. She plans to replace the trees and gardens with condominiums.
- Shout-Out: In "Squirrel, Interruped", Cole's favorite book series, The Squirrel Quarrels, is clearly based on Redwall.
- Molly's Fista-Puffs character has her pigtails turning into muscular arms for smashing and grabbing, looking and acting very similar to Cerebella's hat-based Living Weapon.
- "I'm The Worst" is one comic-book/science-fiction reference after another, including Molly name-dropping Spider-Man, Batman and Thor directly, corresponding with Fista-Puffs recreating the famous comic cover where Peter Parker throws his suit away, Commissioner Gordon smashing the Batsignal at the end of The Dark Knight and the image from The Unworthy Thor of Thor on the Moon. There's also a parody of Lois Lane holding Superman, Sarah Connor's nuclear vision, Thanos' infamous "snap" and Doctor Manhattan on Mars.
- During Molly's "Good Will Hunting" fantasy, she hangs out at a restaurant with the exact same layout as Bob's Burgers, and her friends are voiced by H. Jon Benjamin (who voices Bob) and Larry Murphy (who voices Teddy). See Production Posse on the Trivia page.
- Special Guest: While Kate Anderson, Elyssa Samsel, and Brent Knopf write most of the songs, other known songwriters has written at least one song for each episodes:
- In "Skater's Circle", "Weirdos Make Great Superheroes" is written by Sara Bareilles.
- In "Hat Luncheon", "The Park is Mine" is written by Utkarsh Ambudkar and Rafael Casal.
- In "Garbage Ballet", Cyndi Lauper co-wrote "Garbage Ballet" with William Wittman and co-wrote "Rats" with Natalia Kills.
- In "Dog Spray Afternoon", "Spoiler Alert" is written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.
- In "Rival Busker", "First Class Hands" is written by Darren Criss.
- In "Squirrels, Interrupted", "Big Deal" is written by Aimee Mann.
- In "Hot Oven", "I'm in a Perfect Relationship" is written by Meghan Trainor.
- In "Live It Up Tonight", the titular song title is written by Anthony Hamilton and Charles Holloman Jr.
- In "A Fish Called Snakehead", "New York Doesn't Like Your Face" is written by Fiona Apple and David Lucky, and is sung by six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald.
- In "Central Dark:
- "Weehawken" is written by Supercommuter.
- "Come Into the Darkness" is written by Tim Dacey, Steven Davis, & Kelvin Yu.
- "In the Dark" is written by John Cameron Mitchell and sung by Jessica Childress.
- "Mother's Daze" is the first episode where all the songs are written by guest songwriters.
- "All About You" and "This Is It" and its reprise is written by Taura Stinson.
- "Pour Poor Me More Please" is written by They Might Be Giants
- "Promise" is written by Jess Furman & Alana Da Fonseca.
- In "Fista Puffs Mets Out Justice", "Pow Pow Boom Booms" is written by Josh Gad & Ben Romans.
- "Of Course You Realize This Means Ward", is another episode where all the songs are written by guest songwriters.
- "The Answer is Ward" and "Why Bother" is written by Patrick Dacey, Tim Dacey, & Jeff Drake.
- "Kite String" is written by Rufus Wainwright.
- In "Down to the Underwire", "I Have a Bra-blem" and "Bra-blem Solved" were written by Tank and the Bangas.
- In "A Decent Proposal":
- Spell My Name With An S: In this case, quite literally. Bitsy's dog is named "Shampagne", but is pronounced like the drink of the same name.
- Stalker with a Crush: Molly has a huge crush on Brendan, a boy who flies a kite in the park. However, before the series starts, she hasn't even talked to him but has done a huge amount of research so she could watch him again.
- Same can be said for Cole's interesting relationship with Shampagne.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In "Garbage Ballet", Cole pretends to be sick so he can stay home and stop his mom from killing any rats. But because Paige is actually sick, his exposure around her causes him to catch her cold and get sick for real since he didn't take any precautionary steps to keep himself healthy.
- Title-Only Opening: The series has a title card that says "Central Park" for a few seconds, with a leitmotif taken from the song "Central in My Heart" from the first episode. In episode 7, it's used after a Cold Open.
- Toy-Based Characterization: As a kid, the toy Owen wanted more than anything was a toy street sweeper "with real spinning brushes" so he could pretend to be the guy cleaning the streets of New York. He is introduced as the manager of Central Park, so this shows he always had the same selflessness and the same interest in boring things that nevertheless need doing that he starts the series with.
- Treated Worse than the Pet: Helen, Bitsy Brandenham's personal maid who has been with her for many years, despises her pampered pooch Shampagne, as she sees the dog as her only competition for Bitsy's inheritance when she dies. While Helen puts up with all of Bitsy's demands 24/7, Shampagne is regularly treated to spa days and fine food (though the dog himself would rather be a regular dog, living with young Cole Tillerman).
- Triumphant Reprise:
- In "Skater's Circle", Molly and Cole sings a reprise of "Weirdos Make Great Superheroes" after they discover that Shampagne still remembers Cole.
- In "Hat Luncheon", after Paige gets her quote and found her next clue, she triumphantly sings the reprise of "Momma's Got This".
- Varying Competency Alibi: In Season 3 "A Matter of Life and Boeuf", when a valuable steak is stolen at Bitsy's hotel restaurant, it becomes a whodunnit mystery and everyone is a suspect. Molly points out it can't be Cole because he's too bad at being bad. Cole tries to prove he can be bad by spilling over a pepper shaker and then instantly regretting it, proving Molly's point. When Shampagne is accused of eating the steak, Cole tries Taking the Heat to save Shampagne, but nobody buys it at all due to him being too innocent.
- Very Special Episode: While the show normally focuses on comedy and musicals, "Lunar Palavar" is the first episode to tackle a serious subject. Aside from the side plot with Bitsy following Helen, this episode deals with the subject of racism, and it is treated as appropriately serious by everyone involved, to the point that even Birdie tones down his usual narrator antics. And when Owen is discussing racism with Cole, there's absolutely no music playing in the background, emphasizing how serious the discussion is.
- Villain Song:
- In "Skater's Circle", Bitsy sings "Make 'em Pay", where she sings about how she'll make everyone pay for treating her badly and ignoring her.
- In "Dog Spray Afternoon", Helen sings "If There's a Will", a song about the struggles of being Bitsy's assistant and about playing the Long Game in order to gain Bitsy's fortune.
- In "Squirrel, Interrupted", Bitsy sings "Big Deal", where she sings about how she despises her brother and his extended family.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song:
- In "Episode One", Birdie sings "Heiress to a Fortune", explaining who Bitsy is and that she's the villain of the show before we even meet her.
- In "Garbage Ballet", "Rats" has Paige singing how awful rats are and wants them dead if they're in her home. Partially subverted in that Cole, on the other hand, tries to stop her from killing any rats and sings how they're not bad.
- In "A Fish Called Snakehead", likability coach Ashley gives one to Bitsy in "New York Doesn't Like Your Face", highlighting all the reasons New Yorkers think Bitsy is awful.
- In the same episode, Owen sings a song about the titular Snakeheads, and how they're an invasive species that will "gobble up the fauna / like a fishy Jeffrey Dahmer".
- Wealthy Philanthropist: Birdie explains the Park League are a group of nice rich people who formed the league in The '70s and they provide 90% of the Central Park money to improve the park.
- ♫ "Here at the midpoint
A park that's so central
The name’s not that clever
But screw it, whatever!
It's central in my heart…" ♫