Downtown, or MTV's Downtown, was an animated series on MTV on urban life, based on interviews with real people. The show followed an ethnically diverse cast who live in New York City, and presents their everyday lives through quirky, humorous, and imaginative perspectives from the characters. It was created by Chris Prynoski, a former animator on Beavis And Butthead and Daria who went on to form Titmouse, and produced by David McGrath. In 2000, Downtown was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Animated Program.
Like many of MTV's other cartoons, it lasted only one season of 13 episodes. All released between August and November, 1999. There has been an outcry for a DVD release of the series. The use of an original score rather than licensed music would make such a DVD release easier. Prynoski sublimated the lack of an official Paramount DVD release by way of offering a promotional DVD via his blog, which includes all episodes of the series in DVD quality.
The creators of the series would go on to do Megas XLR, in which Goat is a recurring character, complete with the same voice actor.
Downtown features examples of:
- All Women Are Lustful: All the female characters apply, though for Chaka and Mecca, it's just implied since they're still teenagers. Jen is frustrated by her own lack of sex, while her roommate Leah Really Gets Around. However, Leah is an interesting example, as she admits to not liking sex all that much while still indulging in a ton of it. A few scenes imply she sees it as a prerequisite for an active social life, while others have her sleep around even when there's no advantage in it.
- Alpha Bitch: Chaka, though more to Alex than her classmates.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Chaka often gets on her brother Alex's nerves.
- As Himself: WWE's The Undertaker once "appeared" as himself when the gang went to a comic book convention. He ends up helping Fruity fight a group of anime nerds over a comic book.
- Auto Erotica: Subverted in "Limo". When it at first looks like Alex and Jen are having sex in the limo Jen rented, it then turns out that they're just bouncing the limo around and feigning orgasmic exclamations to mess with the chauffeur.
- In the same episode, the chaffeur talks about a client he had who also seemed to be setting up for this trope when he brought a couple of hookers on board. Turns out he just wanted them to partake in some bizarre religious confession with him, for which he paid their fee, and then happily let them off afterwards.
- Beneath the Earth: In "Graffiti", Fruity, Matt and Chaka venture into the subway tunnels in New York so Matt can tag the trains. While they wander around, they talk about all the crazy inhabitants of whom they've heard tell. Suggestions include survivalists, mole people, giant electric eels and transit cops who stage fights. And then there's the abandoned yet functional station they really DO stumble across...
- Big Applesauce: The show takes place in New York City.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Alex is a National Merit Scholar and went to engineering school for two years, but doesn't like engineering. He seems content to work at a copy shop until he knows what he wants to do.
- Butt-Monkey: No one in the series is particularly lucky, but Alex and Fruity get it the worst.
- Cannibal Clan: The Cropsies from episode 12. It's an urban legend about inbred hillfolk living in the Jersey Pine Barrens, who allegedly kidnap travellers and either eat them or use them for breeding if they're women. The Cropsies turn out to be real, but are none of the things mentioned above, they're just the inhabitants living in the secluded parts of the Barrens.
- Casanova Wannabe: Fruity. Oh dear lord, Fruity. He's not completely unsuccessful with the ladies, but the few people he manages to attract are either Axe-Crazy or not quite as pretty as the Halloween makeup and nighttime lighting made it seem.
- Catholic School Girls Rule: Fruity first dated Patty, the meanest Catholic school-girl in town, because of how promiscuous she was in "Limo".
- Character Overlap: Scot Rienecker when on to voice Goat again in Megas XLR.
- Coolest Club Ever:
- Episode 3 featured the local dive under Alex's apartment being turned into a massively trendy, popular club. Chaka is thrilled, especially since she can sneak in through the back from within the apartment building. Alex, who has to sleep above the pounding techno music, is less thrilled.
- In Episode 4 Alex wanders upon the location where the Goth event was taking place (that appears to be a rented former meat packing store), that Alex was hired to copy the promotional posters in the opening scene, where Serena is preparing the venue for the club night. The end result is displayed in the credits where there is graffiti art of candles on the wall as well as other art, actual lit candles in the club attached to tall, floor stand candelabras near the walls, everyone apparently is dancing to Serena's zither playing despite it appears not to be hooked up to any speakers, Goat is chasing a girl who's trying to get away from him, Alex's usually popular club savvy sister is surprisingly dancing with a Goth guy, and Alex is sleeping under one of the posters he made.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Goat. His theory involves Pigmen and turning New York City into Toronto.
- Creative Closing Credits: the credits always roll over a short, dialogue-free scene which may or may not be canon. Possible subjects include urban legends or rumours the characters brought up during the episode, what another character did offscreen, or possible post-episode happenings.
- Creepy Crossdresser: The anime cosplayers in episode 5.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jen tends to make sarcastic comments.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The show has a six-minute pilot episode that is noticeably very different from the series.
- Fruity, Matt, Chaka, and Mecca are the central characters of the pilot, with no sign of Alex, Jen, or Goat whatsoever.
- Fruity has a younger brother, when in the series there is no indication that he has any siblings.
- Chaka's surname is given as Zuberman rather than Hensen.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Serena, being a goth and all.
- When she changes from goth to "normal" look in the final episode, her skin isn't pale anymore, so it was probably just makeup.
- Fake-Out Make-Out: Alex and Jen pretend to be intimate to fool their limo driver in "The Limo."
- Flipping the Bird: Mecca gives Fruity the finger in "Before and After".
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Chaka denies she and Lizzie are friends, though Lizzie seems to be under the impression that they are. Mecca says Lizzie is "not that bad."
- Friend to All Living Things: Mecca is very affectionate towards any animal she comes across.
- Friends with Benefits: Alex and Jen discuss this in "The Limo."
- Garage Sale:Mecca: Oh, I love yards sales. You can get clothes so cheap.Chaka: Mecca, They have other people's sweat in them.Jen: Chaka, where do you think this stuff comes from, a time capsule? No, I buy it off people who think it's worthless, dry clean it and mark it up 1000%.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: In "Trip or Treat", Goat is talking to Alex about whether or not the fact that Serena is no longer dressing like a goth means that Alex should no longer be interested in her. Good Angel Goat starts with a point about how clothing doesn't make the person. Bad Angel Goat says that the clothing will just come off anyway.
- G-Rated Sex: Alex and Jen's recovery from their board game session seems very post-coital, with them lying on his bed and cooing at each other.Alex: Girl, I like the way you spin.
Jen: Mm, thank you. Well, I've never been with a guy who rolls doubles the way you can, over and over. Oh...
Alex: Well, you know I save that for you, right?
Jen: I know. It was...unbelievable. You think you could do it again, big boy?
Alex: I don't know. Can you handle it?
Jen: I think so.
Alex: Are you ready? Are you ready for some more?
Jen: I could really go for some Uncle Wiggily.
Alex: Oof, I think I need 10 minutes.
Jen: No problem. [Beat] I'm hungry.
- Gold Digger: Leah is this, exemplified in "Hotel Bar", but that doesn't stop her from having sex with lower class men like the TV repairman.
- Groin Attack: Goat delivers a kick to the groin to Jen in "Night Shift" under the belief that she was a man stalking Serena. Jen is unfazed and retaliates with one of her own. Apparently Goat's mother told him to always "go for the balls".
- Halloween Episode: The last episode "Trip or Treat" takes place on Halloween.
- Horrible Housing: Alex's first apartment on his own is a real shithole, and they even talk about how he had to jump at the opportunity to get it without checking it out first because of how difficult it is to find affordable housing in New York. Jen's apartment isnt much better, and she still has to have a roommate. The less said about Goats apartment, the better.
- Imagine Spot: Descriptive depictions of the subject at hand frequently occur mid-conversation.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Goat appears to be in his mid-30's at the very least, yet is still friends with the 20-somethings and teenagers of the rest of the cast.
- Just Train Wrong: In "Train Pain" Chaka and Fruity argue with each other with which train is faster arriving to Coney Island. Chaka states you take the "B Train" while Fruity argues you take the "R" because it's faster. It may be In-Universe though to show how clueless each character is. The B train ends at Brighton Beach and not at Coney Island, the R Train stops at Bay Ridge 95th Street. Matt is able to show Fruity that the N Train is the one you take to get to Coney Island using the subway map, and at W 4th Station Chaka and Mecca board an F Train because Chaka was impatient with the B not arriving (both Fruity and Chaka complaining to their companions how arrogant the other is!). Chaka should have stayed on the F train because that is one of the lines that goes directly to Coney Island!
- Kick the Dog: Chaka stealing Halloween candy from a little girl in "Trip Or Treat". She claims she's got a right to do it because it happened to her as a kid. Then it turns out that some of the candy she took had been drugged, leading to her suffering hallucinations and ending up in the hospital. The Stinger for the episode also shows the girl she stole from showing up in her room for revenge.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: Jen disguises herself with just a hat and coat to follow Serena in "Night Shift". Even the cops who stop and frisk Jen think she's a guy.
- The Load: Matt never let Fruity join in on his tagging ruins because he felt that Fruity would be this. He's pretty much right when he does take him and Chaka along, as Fruity quickly gets jealous over Matt's street cred and popularity among graffiti fans and almost gets them caught by the transit cops. He redeems himself by the end.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Leah persistently assumes Jen and Alex are dating, prompting Jen to break and crack wise about how they other day they were having sex in the elevator of the World Trade Center. Leah interrupts Jen to gush about how amazing that spot was.
- Mooning: The episode "Train Pain" has Chaka and Mecca moon a man in retaliation for not keeping the door on a train open long enough for them to catch up.
- Ms. Fanservice: Jen's roommate Leah is very attractive and is often seen topless.
- Mushroom Samba: In "Trip or Treat", Chaka eats some "funny" candy and starts tripping... in the middle of a Halloween parade in Greenwich Village.
- Nature Tinkling: Chaka ends up peeing outside in "Cropsey Clanners" when she can't bear to hold it in any longer while waiting in the car with Mecca for Alex and Jen to get back.
- Nerd Hoard: Alex and his geek friends all collect action figures. When Jen tells one of the friends that he should get laid, he assumes "Laid" is a rare Star Wars figure. The Nerd Hoard becomes a plot point later in the same episode when Alex realizes he doesn't want to end up being a middle-aged guy still obsessing over toys.
- Nerds Are Virgins: Alex's friends (one of them thinks "Laid" is a Star Wars character). Whether Alex himself is a virgin is nebulous.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Alex and Serena at one point look at a book of nude robot women with breasts in "The Con".
- The Not-Love Interest: Jen and Alex. In one episode they're so horny they do consider going beyond friendship, but then come to the conclusion it wouldn't make any sense.
- Once More, with Clarity: When Jen follows Serena, she goes to various places: to a shady back alley, an upscale apartment building, and a strip club. Jen assumes the worst. When Serena goes to Alex's copy store, Serena explains what she was doing at each place. She went to pick up some herbal medicines (the shady back alley), watered her aunt's plants (the apartment building), and retrieved some concert tickets (the strip club).
- Only Known By His Nickname: Goat and Fruity never revealed their actual names. Goat's first or last name *might* be Scott. He does respond with, "How do you know my real name?". However, Desmond may also be one of his names.
- ...Or So I Heard: In "Night Shift", the friend of Alex's who becomes attracted to Jen says something about strip clubs that he insists he doesn't know firsthand."And not an upscale strip club like Scores, but one where the girls have nasty implant scars... not that I've been there or anything."
- Perky Goth: Serena. To some, her exotic goth style can seem off-putting, but she's a very likable, positive person.
- Properly Paranoid: In Testing, Goat goes off his rocker after mistaking a psych student teacher assistant's hammy attempt to relate with the group of young adults he found to sign up for a paid research experiment, as a brainwashing code saying "That's cool, man". He stares at cameras claiming that the recorded footage goes into a government central database to track people as well as other paranoia (like a numerical ordered check number being used to track people). Later during a job interview, Alex learns from the store manager of a large corporate copy shop that they use cameras in the store not to stop shoplifters, but to track employee productivity along with other invasive measures that invades privacy.
- Race Lift: Leah appears to be Caucasian in her first appearance and Latina and/or African American in her subsequent appearances.
- "Rashomon"-Style: The second episode features one when Chaka and Mecca remember when they first met Matt and Fruity, and vice versa. All we really know for sure is that they were all in the park and Chaka was dancing in the fountain:
- Chaka remembers herself as a voluptuous dancer that had the attention of every guy in the park, and that Matt and Fruity were lanky nerds.
- Fruity remembers himself as a fit, confident skater, and Chaka as a plain, flat girl.
- Really Gets Around:
- Leah is very promiscuous, to the point where she interrupts sex with one guy to hook up with another one right in the middle.
- Goat as well. He has a "quantity over quality" approach to hooking up, making him far more successful in romance than most of the gang, but the quality of conquests is questionable.
- Relationship Upgrade: Of a sort: Serena comes to accept Alex for who he is as a real friend in the final episode, and of course the show was cancelled before another upgrade could happen.
- Right Through the Wall: Jen's roommate Leah often has sex loud enough that Jen can hear it, to Jen's annoyance.
- Scenery Censor: When Chaka and Mecca moon a man in retaliation to him deliberately preventing them from making it onboard a train in time, the man's body covers up their asses when we see the mooning from his perspective.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: A lot of the dialogue between the characters leads to this in one way or another.
- Shameless Fanservice Girl: Leah has no problem changing in front of her roommate Jen, Alex, the guy creeping on her from across the street...
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Alex has to explain this about Jen fairly often. Not to mention the Gender reversed version that Jen has to point out as well.
- Stealth Pun: In the episode "Graffiti", when Chaka makes a remark at Matt's expense.(Fruity, Matt and Chaka search the subway tunnels for the right spot for Matt to "tag" with graffiti.)Fruity: Get it over with already!Matt: Gotta find the right spot, B.Chaka: If only all guys were like you.
- Subways Suck: In Episode 2, a battle-of-the-sexes train race of Chaka and Mecca vs. Matt and Fruity to get to Coney Island. Chaka acts impulsively and takes random trains while Mecca is too spineless to stop her. Matt looks at the maps, makes a plan and firmly sticks to it despite Fruity's complaints, but it was all for nothing when their train line ends abruptly due to construction. (They managed to walk the remaining 20 blocks.)
- Small Name, Big Ego: Again, Fruity, and to a lesser extent, Chaka.
- Those Two Guys: Matt and Fruity.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: Matt is the sarcastic straight man to Fruity's girl-crazy wise guy.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Inverted with the relationship between Jen and Alex. Various characters assume that the two of them are or should be sleeping together, despite their vehement protests to the contrary. Although after a conversation about how desperately horny they both are, they attempt to hook up. It's a miserable failure.
- Urine Trouble: In the episode "Testing", Fruity considers adopting a dog so he can use it to attract women. By the end of the episode, he gets a dog, only to get peed on by it.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Pretty much all of the main characters, but especially Alex and Jen.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Played With in "Hotel Bar", Jen's drunken antics culminate in her vomiting, her puke is shown on-screen, but only for a split-second before she ducks off-camera.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Chaka is seen vomiting onscreen in "Trip or Treat" when she recovers from her trip induced by consuming drugged candy.
- You Need to Get Laid: Mentioned by Jen to one of Alex's friends in "Night Shift". He thinks "Laid" is a Star Wars Expanded Universe action figure he hasn't heard of.