I’d seen bits and pieces of Moral Orel when it originally aired, and wasn’t too impressed. It seemed very formulaic: adults try to give Orel a religious message, he takes it literally and then does something horrible, then his father beats him. But I’d heard people speak incredibly highly of it, comparing it to the really dark turn that Bojack Horseman took, and the people behind it (Dino “Starburns from Community” Stamatopoulos, and Scott “Pete from 30 Rock” Adsit) are usually pretty good, so I thought I’d give it a more earnest shot. Conveniently, it’s on Adult Swim’s website (the special, even though it’s listed first, goes last).
The first 7 or 8 episodes are sticking with the formula, like a poor man’s South Park dedicated specifically to satirizing religious fundamentalism (and, to a lesser extent, the 50’s sitcom ideal that some Americans strive for). The end of the first season did deal with some larger stuff, which set up the second season that gets more and more into Orel’s family and the town and actual plot and character development. The second season finale and the third season are unbelievably dark. Everything is awful and everyone is miserable and it’s kind of amazing. Possibly the most depressing show I’ve ever seen, which for some reason I consider an endorsement.