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Western Animation / Close Enough

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Close Enough is an animated comedy series created by J.G Quintel, best known for Cartoon Network's Regular Show. Bill Oakley of The Simpsons and Mission Hill fame serves as a writing consultant.

A surreal take on transitioning from an irresponsible twenty-something to a somewhat responsible thirty-something, the series revolves around a married couple, Josh (an aspiring video game developer who works at a Best Buy-style electronics store) and Emily (an aspiring musical comedian), who live in a Los Angeles apartment alongside their five-year-old daughter, Candice; their two divorced best friends, Alex (a community college professor) and Bridgette (a social media influencer who doesn't have a regular 9-to-5 job because she's from a wealthy family); their landlord, an elderly black former policewoman named Pearle, and her white, adopted son Randy, employed as the apartment's handyman.

Each day, Josh and Emily find themselves juggling such everyday challenges as parenthood, friendship, growing older in a society that worships youth, ham theft, stripper clowns, conservative Christian dinosaurs, talking dogs who are fans of Jim Carrey, and choosing the right daycare.

Originally scheduled to air in 2018 as part of a new adult animation block on TBS, it fell into limbo after production on companion show The Cops was cancelled due to its co-creator Louis C.K. being outed for sexual misconductnote . Close Enough would premiere two years later through HBO Max on July 9, 2020. Season two released on February 25th, 2021, following the announcement that HBO has ordered a third and fourth season. The third season premiered on April 7, 2022. International distribution via Netflix began on September 14, 2020. As of October 25, 2021, the show has premiered on TBS and TNT via their shared Front Row block. In July 2022, it was announced that the series had been canceled.

On August 19th, 2022, HBO Max decided to terminate streaming rights for the show alongside a plethora of many others. Now the only way to watch is through purchase via Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play Movies & TV, Vudu, and YouTube.

The HBO Max series trailer can be viewed here, and the original pitch trailer here.

This show provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The season 3 episode "Venice Vengance" reveals the show takes place in 2026, as a flashback to Pearle's childhood says 1963 was 63 years ago.
    • However, Season 1 took place in 2017, as it was the year the season was produced. Season Two also appears to take place around 2017 or 2018 as well note .
  • An Aesop: A few to name.
    • "Logan's Run'd" offers one: Growing old isn't all bad, and part of being an adult is having your tastes shift and not having to keep up with the crowd as you would in your youth.
    • "Snailin' It": Don't be afraid of establishing boundaries with your boss, especially when their demands are unreasonable or fall outside of your scope of responsibility.
    • "So Long Boys" shows how there's nothing inherently wrong having or not having kids. Any good parent would tell you that raising kids can be just as rewarding as it is difficult, but parenting isn't for everyone and that's okay.
    • "Haunted Couch": Be upfront about what you want and what you don't want from a relationship. If you're not interested in taking the same steps as your partner, it is better to be honest and end things maturely than ghosting them (although Bridget makes a valid point that women should prioritize their safety since they're more likely to get hurt by a relationship gone wrong).
    • "Birthdaze" is about thinking about your child's birthday then your own amusement and being there for them.
    • "Men Rock" has the rather timely aesop that creating products that cater to the tastes of oppressive regimes is wrong and only reinforces their status quo, and that creators have a responsibility to speak out against it.
  • Animal Anthropomorphism Tropes: Dog Guy and his fellow mutants in "The Canine Guy".
  • Author Avatar: The main family is based on J.G. Quintel's own family, with Josh even being a self-voiced caricature of J.G. himself.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "100% No Stress Day", Josh and Alex regains consciousness after being knocked out by the Ham Stealer and realizes that Candice is missing. When Josh asks the Ham Stealer where his daughter is, he is horrified when he answers, "She's in a better place now". Thankfully, that just turns out to be the name of the Ham Stealer's highly-rated daycare.
  • Battle Couple: Josh and Emily, especially if it involves Candice.
  • Big "NO!": In "Prank War", Josh yells this after seeing his wife seemingly killed.
  • Body Surf: In "Never Meet Your Heroes," amateur writer Alex meets his favorite author, Jack Cleghorn. Turns out Jack is thousands of years old, and regularly uses a meteorite to swap bodies with talented people to remain popular, and now wants to swap with Alex.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Bridgette hooks up with the ghost of a French aristocrat who haunts a sofa Josh and Alex found on the sidewalk.
  • Brain Bleach: In-Universe, everyone reacts with revulsion if Alex is so much as associated with anything sexual after he tries showing off his new erotic novel. A publisher who loved the book proceeds to vomit after meeting Alex in person, and refuses to publish it, claiming that her readers won't accept an author who looks like "a werewolf who got stuck halfway through transforming".
  • Brick Joke: Subverted due to executive interference. The broken thermostat in the Cold Open of "Quilty Pleasures" is built up to have later plot significance, but due to the 22-minute plot being cut in half and the B-plot all but removed, the payoff is only alluded to briefly in the final episode.
  • The Cameo: David Hasselhoff and "Weird Al" Yankovic voice themselves in different episodes.
  • Celebrity Casualty: The episode "The Canine Guy" has "Weird Al" Yankovic being mauled to death by a bear.
  • Censorship by Spelling: While driving home after picking up Candice from school, Josh and Emily try to use this to obscure their swears, but Candice figures out what they spell right away. The parents grudgingly admit Candice's education must be pretty good.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Josh in the spiritual sense to Rigby. Where Rigby was kind of a jerk who spent most of his time trying to get out of work so he could play, Josh on the other hand is a very nice - if only a little lazy and naïve - who doesn't mind adding to his workload if he thinks it's for a good reason. It probably helps that Josh is older with a wife and kid where Rigby was young and full of insecurities. Emily, likewise, is similar for Mordecai, being in a stable relationship, while Mordecai was always trying to find a girl, and less willing to put up with Josh's antics than Mordecai was for Rigby.
    • Heck, even the way they cause wacky adventures is completely opposite, for Mordecai and Rigby their troubles were because they were constantly trying to get out of work or slacking off, where as Josh and Emily's troubles tend to be because they take on more work then they can handle.
  • Cool Car: Josh and Emily's red mid-90s Corolla is a mundane sight, especially in a car-centric climate like Southern California, but it's pushed to its limits, more often than not by Emily, and remains faithful to its owners without missing a beat. Not to mention, for a single-child 30-something married couple living in a shared apartment, very appropriate.
  • invokedContractual Purity: In "The Perfect House", Emily tries to escape from the sitcom she's trapped in. At one point she presumes she can break the simulation by deliberately being raunchier than the Full House-esque tone, which she does by swearing, baring her boobs, and Flipping the Bird. Unfortunately, this just causes the audience watching her to react poorly.
  • Creepy Child: The street urchins in "Quilty Pleasure" turn out to be psychotic (adult) murderers.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Parodied in "Sauceface," where Candice runs an illicit hot sauce racket in her preschool.
  • Death by Cameo: In "The Canine Guy", "Weird Al" Yankovic appears in the middle of the woods, says a few lines, explains his ritual to be able to balance writing comedy songs with having a family, and proceeds to get mauled by a bear. He even appears at the end of the episode as a ghost. Only to get mauled by a ghost bear.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title Close Enough refers to both the proximity Josh and Emily have with their roommates and neighbors, as well as the idea that their current lives aren't perfect, but "close enough" to what they wanted. J.G. Quintel also happily accepted the third fanon explanation of "it's not Regular Show, but it's close enough" (meaning that the show may not be exactly like Regular Show, but it's "close enough" in humor and art style).
  • Downer Ending: Cyber Matrix ends with everyone trapped in Matrix-like tubes run by an evil smartphone for eternity. Not that it matters on this show.
  • Dustbin School: Implied to be the reason for why Josh and Emily are so intent on keeping Candice in her new school, despite the annoying teacher and frustrating obligations. We see a cutaway of a horde of near-feral children tipping over a school bus and setting it on fire. And the driver begs them to stop because he had to pay for the bus out of his own pocket!
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Emily's reaction to Josh getting shredded in "Josh Gets Shredded".
    Candice: But we were playing.
    Emily: I know sweetie, but it's important for us to support him now that he's hot.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Though she may be sex-crazed, Bridgette freaks out over going to jail for making out with a YouTube star who's only 26 months old on "Logan's Run'd".
    • The Ham Stealer from "100% No Stress Day" has no problem murdering people, but he seems to draw the line at children. While he plans to kill Josh and Alex, he drops Candice off at a daycare.
      • Also, the stripper clowns (unlike the ham thieves) respect the honor of a bet and back down after losing.
  • Epic Fail: Josh's attempt at impressing Candice and teaching her how to skate in "Skate Dad", which ends with him falling off the board and hitting himself in the crotch at the first move.
  • Fan Disservice: Two words: stripper clowns.
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Randy's biological father in "Meet the Frackers" is a career criminal turned Corrupt Corporate Executive who fits all the hallmarks of this trope: he's a Fat Bastard who wears a white suit, speaks with a rural drawl, and his balding head is glistening with sweat.
  • Faux Horrific: When Alex reveals his true age to save Josh and Emily in "Logan's Run'd", he does so by revealing that he still has a Blockbuster membership card, owns singles on cassette tapes and is old enough to have used AOL, much to the horror of the 20-somethings in the nightclub.
  • Fitness Nut: Josh becomes this in the episode "Josh Gets Shredded". He initially joined a gym so he could play with his daughter Candice without throwing his back out, but over time, he started to neglect his family and prioritized getting stronger. He momentarily broke out of this mindset after completing the ultimate workout and becoming an "Absolute Unit", making his top priority playing "King Kong" with Candice. However, this only lasted until his watch told him to go back to the gym, until Candice was able to convince him that time spent together is what's really important, breaking Josh from this habit for good. Well, that, and losing all his gains from missing out on his workouts while tranquilized.
  • Fountain of Youth: In "The Weird Kid," Emily wishes on a magic pendant to be closer to Candice. The next morning she wakes up in the body of a five year old, closer to Candice in size.
  • Framing Device: "Halloween Enough" sees the cast stuck indoors on Halloween and telling each other scary stories in an intentional homage to the Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror."
  • Gag Penis: In "100% No Stress Day", the red-haired clown was able to tie up his penis like a balloon animal and make it resemble a giraffe, complete with stretching. Another clown at the end of the episode offers to make a brontosaurus (with everyone objecting after Candice innocently says she wants to see it).
  • Gas Siphoning: Randy's biological parents were criminals who were experts at siphoning gas out of vehicles before getting caught and sent to prison. Their son is shown to have inherited their skills, as he was able to siphon gas out of a moving tanker truck, while riding in a car parallel to it.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: An in-universe example. In "Men Rock!", Emily and Bridgette learn that their songs are popular in a country called Cromania.
  • G-Rated Drug:
    • In "Sauceface", Candice's classmates treat hot sauce packets like cocaine, with Candice running an illicit smuggling market.
    • In "Where'd You Go, Bridgette?", Bridgette's attachment to her cellphone is treated like a full-blown addiction, complete with painful withdrawal after going for an hour withour texting. Pearl talks her through her detox by telling her about her own struggle with addicition... to Six Flags.
  • Hollywood New England: The vasectomy robots from "So Long Boys" are said to be from Boston; as such, they speak with Kennedy-esque accents and make random references to Boston sports teams.
  • Hulk Speak: Josh briefly degenerates to this after becoming a muscle-bound monster in "Josh Gets Shredded".
  • Hunk: Josh briefly turns into one in "Josh Gets Shredded."
  • Hypocrite: The nightclub owner from "Logan's Run'd", who has anyone over 30 in his club ritually sacrificed for the crime of being old, is actually by far the oldest person there, and has been hiding the fact that he's pushing 50 with a wig.
  • Incendiary Exponent: If something doesn't explode during a dramatic moment, it'll burst into flames.
  • It's All About Me: Becca, Emily's old friend and college roommate who appears in "Houseguest from Hell." She's so self-absorbed, she doesn't even realize that Emily has a husband and child, even though she attended both Emily's wedding and Candice's birth.
  • Made of Explodium: Just like its predecessor, anything - from an alleged orphan hitting a mailbox, to skateboards - will explode or burst into flames if it's sufficiently funny or dramatic enough.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: Emily sharing a joint with Bridgette causes them both to start experiencing colorful hallucinations.
  • Murderous Mannequin: The Forever 23 store mannequins of "Clap Like This" act like regular mannequins by day and party all night when the store's closed. For them there's only the carefree life, which sounds great to the miserable new store employee Bridgette. Being forcibly turned into a mannequin in the store that doubles as an operating theater is a little less up her alley. Worse, because she's uncooperative, the mannequins threaten to use her for spare parts after turning her into one.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Happens on occasion, such as the stripper clowns in "No Stress Day", one of the drunken moms in "Birthdaze" appearing nude on the rafters, and Emily caught in her birthday suit in "Secret Horse" as well as winding up without pants when returning to her normal age in "The Weird Kid".
  • Parental Abandonment: Randy's biological parents were fuel thieves who abandoned him as an infant... by throwing him at Pearl so they could escape. Then they did it again when she brought Randy to the prison in an attempt to not separate a baby from his parents.
  • Parental Neglect: Josh and Emily are both specifically trying not to do this to Candice and try their dearest to be there for her, but the plot of many episodes explore how hard it can be to juggle parenting with their personal aspirations.
  • Parents as People: Both Josh and Emily fall into this category. They are both flawed individuals, but there is no denying that they really are trying to do their best for Candice, who appreciates their efforts.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Implied to be Josh and Emily's money situation. "100% No Stress Day" had Emily freaking out over the ham being stolen because that means no food in the house (as well as the montage of stressful moments in Emily's life, one of which includes an absurdly long student loan bill) and the reason they can afford the condo in Southern California is because they share it with a divorced couple (Alex and Bridgette, the latter of whom comes from a wealthy family) who still live together. This is also the reason why the freak out over Emily's pregnancy scare in "So Long, Boys"
  • Pink Is Erotic:
    • In Where'd You Go, Bridgette?, Pearle decides to help Bridgette lose her addiction to her phone but Alex, Emily, and Josh assume she's gone missing because of her lack of phone activity. According to Emily, Bridgette has a very specific photo to use if she ever went missing and the photo is of Bridgette posing seductively while wearing pink and red lingerie.
    • In The Erotic Awakening of A.P. LaPearle, Alex makes an erotic novel set in the Viking era and the use of pink is predominant. Lady Saveria wears pink lipstick and goes to a pink bed with Rothgar to have sex but Alex is cut off before he read out the sex scene.
  • Pregnancy Scare: After having a close call, Josh decides to get a vasectomy due to the fact he and Emily can barely afford one child. He decides against it though when he gets pissed off at how the clinic treats having kids as the worst.
  • Production Throwback: There are numerous references to Quintel's previous series Regular Show: for example, the park house is put up for sale on "The Perfect House", Josh and Emily's kitchen wallpaper have silhouettes of Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man, Benson, and Pops; there's a backmasked message in "Skate Dad" urging the viewer to buy Regular Show DVDs (on the shot of the demonic skateboard), "Cool Moms" has one of the little girls in the arm wrestling gym wearing an "I'm Eggscellent" trucker cap, and a set of condoms seen in "The Canine Guy" have Mordecai's face on them. In season 2, "Sauceface" repeatedly shows a lunchbox with a picture of Mordecai, Rigby, Skips, Pops and Benson. "Cyber Matrix" starts out at the Park.
  • Primal Scene: Alex, Bridgette, and Candice catch Josh and Emily "Doing their taxes" in the car, leading to the above Pregnancy Scare.
  • Real-World Episode: In "Halloween Enough", Candice has a nightmare where she stumbles into Cartoon Network Studios and freaks out upon seeing the crew in the middle of making the show she stars in. She even runs into J.G. Quintel, briefly mistaking him for Josh.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Close Enough is raunchier than Regular Show. Justified, since Close Enough is an actual adult cartoon rather than a kids' cartoon with questionable jokes meant for adults.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "The Perfect House", the park house is being sold by realtors named Kim & Thurston, complete with drawn likenesses.
    • In "100% No Stress Day", a bunch of clown strippers are giving the Death Glare to Josh and Alex because Alex owes them money, and Alex mutters "They found me. I don't know how, but they found me."
      • While stoned, Emily and Bridgette visit a pet shop called "Pet Shop Boyz".
    • "The Canine Guy" is basically a game of how many Jim Carrey movie references you can make in eleven minutes.
    • The entirety of "Logan's Run'd" is a reference to Logan's Run, which is brought up in the episode itself and is a hint that the owner of the nightclub is actually much older than he's pretending to be.
    • The stash of drugs Alex has packed in the beginning of "Skate Dad" is said to include "uppers, downers, laughers, and screamers".
    • A Gremlin appears as one of the inmates in "Prank War".
    • In "Robot Tutor", Alex tries to convincing Bridgette to get off of her phone by asking her "Why don't you put your phone down and get in the shell? There's a pearl in here!" A Pearl in a shell sounds pretty familiar.
    • "Golden Gamer", the stunt library has books called Firewalking with STDs and Eat Pray Die..
    • "Man Up" is an explicit Whole-Plot Reference to Die Hard.
    • In "Birth Daze", Sardini the magician throws a magic ball at Josh and Emily that briefly grows spikes just like the Phantasm series.
    • A.P. LaPearle, the name Pearle uses when she's presented as the author of Alex's Viking erotica novels, is a reference to J.T. LeRoy, the infamous '90s author who turned out to be the fabricated persona of Laura Albert, who had her sibling-in-law make public appearances as LeRoy.
    • "Candice Candice Revolution" has the students taking over and setting up the Chamomile Autonomous Zone, a reference to the real life Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ in Seattle.
    • Everyone's costumes in "Halloween Enough" is a Shout-Out:
  • Spiritual Successor: The show has the same creator and much of the same staff as Regular Show. Both series have a practically identical art style and carry the same Mundane Made Awesome set-up, but whereas Regular Show focused on anthropomorphic, 20-something slackers who slowly mature and figure out their identities over the course of the series, Close Enough follows a mostly human cast who are navigating their early 30s and dealing with married life, parenthood, and general adulthood. It's also a lot more frantic and less laid-back in tone compared to Regular Show.
  • Status Quo Is God: Any episode that ends with the protagonists in a worse-off place has no bearing on the next one. See Downer Ending above.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: A Running Gag of the show is that everything can explode for pretty much no reason. Some of the stuff that explodes includes a Street Urchin thrown against a mailbox, an old man that rolls against a water tank, and a skate that hits a drum.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The thing about muscles is that you can't just get them and stop. Once you have them you have to work to maintain them otherwise you lose them. Though it happens far quicker than in reality once Josh stops working to keep his muscles he loses his new mass.
    • Alex gets it into his head that he and Bridgette divorced over thinking she ate his sandwich, however it's over the course of the "Time Hooch" he realizes no single moment was the defining one caused their marriage to fall apart. Like any failing relationship it was a series of things over a long period, the sandwich was just the last straw on the camel's back.
  • Surreal Humor: Much like Regular Show, Close Enough mixes bizarre or even supernatural events with Josh and Emily's everyday life to generate its laughs. Sometimes, it crosses the line into Surreal Horror.
  • Tastes Like Purple: The "Hillbilly Mai Tai" (Mountain Dew and rum), which Randy claims tastes like "banging his head against a pole".
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Josh's massive muscular gains from "Josh Gets Shredded" are completely undone a few minutes before the end, because he didn't work out or eat for three hours due to being unconscious.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: The appropriately titled "Houseguest from Hell" centers around Emily's horrible college friend moving into the house, with her having to find the courage to tell her to leave.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: "Time Hooch" has Alex and Josh go on a trip through time using the eponymous hooch to try and keep Alex's relationship from falling apart. They successively visit various milestone arguments in their journey and bring the Alex's of those times back with them, all the way to their first meeting. In the end all the extra Alex's end up in prehistory, where they end up preserved in amber, leaving them to be discovered by a more recent but still in the past company that wants to clone a caveman, implied to be where Alex himself comes from in a Stable Time Loop.
  • Toilet Seat Divorce: Subverted, Alex realizes that the sandwich incident was just the final straw. His marriage really fell apart over a long time.
  • Totally Radical: Dude Man, the hero of Josh's abandoned video game.
  • Unusual Euphemism: On multiple occasions, Josh and Emily refer to having sex as "doing our taxes."
  • Vocal Dissonance: The YouTuber who Bridget tries to hit on ends up being a literal baby with a deep voice.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Happens a lot.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Occasionally.
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: In "The Erotic Awakening of A. P. La Pearle", this is everyone's reaction to finding out Alex wrote The Rigid Helmet. Or saying anything sexual in general.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Emily and Candace are understandably furious with Josh when he abandons them and runs away during an "alien invasion" (it turned out to be a promotional stunt for a bank). The rest of the episode revolves around Pearl training Josh to toughen up and not run away as his instinctive response.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Averted. Unlike Regular Show, Close Enough explicitly takes place in Los Angeles. The characters live in the central L.A. neighborhood of Silver Lake, and plots have them travel all over the city to places like the Travel Town Museum and Baxter Street.


Video Example(s):


Close Enough

Candice has a nightmare where she stumbles into Cartoon Network Studios and freaks out upon seeing the crew in the middle of making the show she stars in. She even runs into J.G. Quintel, briefly mistaking him for Josh.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

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