Everyone thinks South Park was the first TV-MA-rated cartoon series to be created for American television; they are also wrong.
The first was the forgotten show that is Spicy City, from animation mastermind Ralph Bakshi, a Tales from the Crypt-style anthology series, only the genre is noir-erotica-sci-fi rather than horror, hosted by a woman named Raven who spends her time at a futuristic lounge, telling the stories of the characters that reside in the eponymous city.
After having a major case of creative differences/Executive Meddling with certain projects, HBO contracted Bakshi to develop a cartoon for them after hearing that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were developing South Park. Spicy City managed to beat South Park to the run, but unfortunately proved to not be as popular as its competitor.
Needless to say, Spicy City has developed a cult following. As of 2022, the show still has not received any kind of home video release and it's currently up in the air whether or not the series will be released on HBO Max.
Tropes that have to do with Spicy City:
- Air-Vent Passageway: Nisa crawls through an air vent in pursuit of Virus in "Sex Drive". It's even depicted as gross enough to have roaches scuttling around inside.
- Art Shift:
- In the episode "Love is a Download", everyone's virtual reality avatars resemble video game characters, and the environment is far more colourful (and lower-framerate) than the real world.
- In "Mano's Hands", everyone has three fingers and a thumb. This is the only episode to do this, as every other episode has four fingers plus a thumb.
- Bittersweet Ending: Every ending other than "Tears of a Clone" and "Sex Drive".
- "Love is a Download": Lem gets Alice away from her Bastard Boyfriend, but Jake never gets any comeuppance and starts looking for another girl.
- "Mano's Hands": Stevie finds his rhythm and a new friendship with Mano's surviving hand, but they are now on the run from Big Vinnie.
- "An Eye for an Eye": Ernie finally brings Margo to justice, but during their fight, she kills Ernie's wife.
- "Raven's Revenge": Raven escapes, but the man who saved her life dies in the process.
- Blackmail: Margo has dirt on many powerful people, which is why her boss is powerless to stop her.
- Brain Uploading:
- Otaku from "Sex Drive" is a computer genius who has been creating lifelike AI prostitutes, except he's really kidnapping living prostitutes and forcibly turning them into cyborgs.
- The private investigator in "Love is a Download" developed a means to upload one's consciousness onto the internet.
- Corrupt Cop: A few of the police officers in the setting show blatant disregard for the laws they are supposed to uphold:
- In "An Eye for an Eye" Margo abuses her position as a police officer to commit murder and blackmail.
- In "Sex Drive", a pair of detectives extract payments from prostitutes.
- Cyberpunk: The series features a neo-noir dystopia with crime, advanced technology, and corrupt cops.
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: Virus has platinum hair and a tan.
- Death by Cameo: Bakshi provides the voice of one of the goons in the episode "Sex Drive". He is later killed off by being given the Kiss of Death.
- Depraved Bisexual: Margo from "An Eye for an Eye" is a Dirty Cop who has a thing for both men and women.
- The Dog Bites Back: In "An Eye for an Eye", the informant Margo screws over and the judge she humiliates and blackmails each has the satisfaction of her getting her comeuppance.
- Downer Ending: "Tears of a Clone" ends with the Detective returning a clone of the Old Man's daughter instead of the real one. He passes off the near-brain dead clone as her by claiming she's been brain-damaged by the experiments. The old man takes her back, and the Detective goes to Raven's bar, unnerved because he couldn't save the real daughter and lost his informant to the ordeal. The episode closes with the real daughter still trapped in the lab, crying and begging her father to rescue her.
- Fanservice: Exaggerated. Nearly every single female character is a Ms. Fanservice, especially the hostess of the show, Raven. The female cast often find themselves in sexually suggestive situations.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Otaku uses his technological skills to extract the consciousness of prostitutes, and program them into being complacent as virtual sex programs.
- Human Trafficking: Otaku is a computer technician who abducts prostitutes, extracts their consciousness, then programs them to be complacent as virtual prostitutes.
- Happily Ever After: "Sex Drive" is the closest any of the stories get to an unambiguously happy ending. Nisa Lolita and Virus are now a couple and have new jobs as police officers, Otaku was killed by the prostitutes he kidnapped, and the two Dirty Cops got their "brains screwed out".
- Interactive Narrator: Raven mostly sets up the plot, but in "Tears of a Clone" she refers the main character's services to the Old Man, warns Mano about chasing after a mob boss's girl in "Mano's Hands", and is the main character of "Raven's Revenge".
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- "Sex Drive": After being freed, Virus frees all the Prostitutes Otaku kidnapped, and then they all attack and kill him when he returns to his hideout.
- "An Eye For An Eye."Raven: Margo wanted a piece of everybody. Now everybody's got a piece of Margo.
- Lipstick Lesbian and Robosexual: Implied for Nisa Lolita in Sex Drive.
- After the rogue sex robot Virus tackles Nisa and pins her to the ground to steal her cassette tape, she taunts and distracts her by asking if she "wants some". Nisa softly replies "I don't know". Virus then proceeds to firmly massage Nisa's breasts. After Virus escapes, Nisa remarks "That was better than Disneyland!"
- After Virus loses her evil programming and becomes a cop with Nisa, she questions whether or not a human could truly love a robot, sorrowfully stating "The metal inside me feels so cold". Nisa reassures her and responds with "Just wait till things heat up around here!" while touching her shoulders. They both silently stare at each other and then start giggling, and the episode proceeds to end with an implied romance.
- Little Black Dress: Raven wears a classy, form fitting black dress, which is supposed to blend in with the Neo-Noir setting.
- Narrator: Raven tells the stories. In the last episode, she's the main character.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the episode "Sex Drive", Stern's character design is based on Ralph Bakshi himself. Matthew Flint voices the character, while Bakshi voices another character in the same episode.
- Powerful People Are Subs: The judge from "An Eye for an Eye", Margo uses it as blackmail material.
- Professional Sex Ed: Bruja from "Mano's Hands" helps Stevie track down the hands, but notices that he suffers from a serious lack of confidence, which she fixes. She apparently did the same for Mano, saying that all the music lessons in the world couldn't produce a pair of hands the way she did.
- Shout-Out: "Mano's Hands", at least in name, to Manos: The Hands of Fate.
- Sisterhood Eliminates Creep: The Mad Scientist Otaku abducts sex workers, drains their consciousnesses, reworks them to be obedient, and then sells them as VR sex programs. One, Virus, is turned into a cyborg because Otaku needs someone to run a few errands for him. She gets restored to her old self by rookie cop Nisa and in turn returns all her colleagues' minds to their bodies. Armed to the teeth, they wait for Otaku, who doesn't yet know that he's been thwarted, to come back.
- Spiritual Successor: It is speculated that Spicy City is actually an adaptation for Frank Millers Sin City series. There are a few similarities between the two.
- Unwilling Roboticisation: Virus is forcibly reprogrammed as a Honey Trap in "Sex Drive".
- Virtual Ghost: Lem and Alice by the end of "Love is a Download"; while their real bodies are destroyed in the process, they get to live on in cyberspace.