Created by Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano and produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, Animals focused on the downtrodden creatures native to New York City, including rats, pigeons, and bedbugs. Matarese and Luciano wrote and directed all episodes, and voiced many of the characters. The series drew a high-profile and lengthy list of guests stars throughout its three seasons, including Jessica Chastain, Jonah Hill, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Marlon Wayans and Emilia Clarke, among others.
Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass executive produced Animals, whose third season finale aired earlier this month, drawing 200,000 linear viewers in Live+same day. The animation for the show was created with Dan Harmon’s Starburns Industries, the studio behind Rick & Morty. Both Animals and Rick & Morty are in the adult animation genre, which is pretty hot at the moment.
Animals had an unconventional path to the screen.
Matarese and Luciano met while working together at a New York City advertising production company, where they discovered a pair of pigeons across from their office and began speaking from their point of view. Matarese, an illustrator in his free time, proposed animating a scene based off their pigeon-riffing to screen at Luciano’s live variety show. The result was “Pigeons…” the first in a series of animated shorts that they dubbed “Animals.” It quickly became a full-time passion project, which they screened at venues throughout New York City, leading to appearances at South by Southwest and Palm Springs International ShortFest. Their quarter-hour installment – a revamped “Pigeons” – won Best Comedy honors at the 2013 New York Television Festival.
A complete first season of an Animals animated TV series, produced by Duplass Brothers TV, was financed with private equity money. It was in post-production when the completed first two episodes were screened in the Special Events section at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in January. That led to a two-season order from HBO, which was later followed by a Season 3 renewal.