You know how in 2020 you’ll just be living your life, stressed about money and your job and stuff, then all of a sudden you’re trapped in an alternate dimension ’90s sitcom that you thought was just some wholesome escapism you could enjoy for, like, one goddamn second?
OK, so maybe that’s not your exact experience. But it is close enough, and also the plot of one episode from HBO Max’s new animated comedy show, Close Enough (heh see what I did there?). What it’s really emblematic of, though, is the show’s perfect balance of very relatable everyday problems, which always dovetail into the chaotic, absurdist surreality of existence in the year of our lord 2020.
For many Millennials (and other generations, to be fair), there’s really no way to accurately portray day-to-day modern life in a grounded way — unless there is also a sudden shift into the utter collapse of reality. It’s the cognitive dissonance we all swim in, dealing with your average daily hardships while coping with the ever-present existential threat of a world perpetually on the brink of apocalyptic destruction.
You know, just the whole-ass vibe of going about your business as a person, while simultaneously suspecting this whole “human race” thing will implode on itself at any minute. It’s waking up everyday to a to-do list that vacillates between “do the laundry” and “stare into the black hole of climate-based global annihilation.” The show gets eerily close to home, for example, with a grocery list that includes “earthquake ham,” which needs no further explanation for Los Angelenos like myself who recently experienced a 4.2 magnitude that sent us all to Twitter for a collective meltdown first, then to panic buying earthquake kits on Amazon, then back to bed cause *shrug*.
Created by J.G. Quintel, best known for his Cartoon Network hit Regular Show, you could cynically read Close Enough as just the “adulting” version of a show geared towards kids. As we know, “adulting” is the deeply millennial term and phenomenon Zoomers have recently started (appropriately) roasting us for, as a generation defined by the struggle to know what it means to grow the hell up in a socio-economic moment that has robbed us of any chance at financial independence.
Josh and Gabrielle are two young parents living on the east side of Los Angeles, trying to mature past the perma-adolescence of coming into adulthood in the midst of a recession and after getting saddled with astronomical student loan debts. Alongside their daughter Candice, the couple shares their too-small apartment with a divorced couple — since being able to afford your housing isn’t really a thing young people get to have right now either.
Everyone is woefully underemployed, which is another contradictory struggle Millennials face. It comes with the privilege of being employed at all, but at a job you’re woefully overqualified for that doesn’t begin to cover the costs of what it took to earn those qualifications everyone said you’d need to get a good job.
So when Josh quits his tech support gig after a big company offers to buy his indie game for millions, it’s only natural that the “execs” call him after he’s spent it all only to admit that they themselves are glorified, underemployed personal assistants with no real power to make good on that deal. Then there’s their roommate Bridgette, chowing down on some bulk-buy End Of The World Brand hummus in an attempt to stay on a budget after getting cut off by her parents.
But like many Millennials, Close Enough escapes your worst expectations by leaning into being a hot mess, with a charming self-awareness that somehow also escapes the traps of being too meta or narcissistic. Like Zoomers (and Millennials themselves), Close Enough isn’t afraid to laugh at the eye-rolling immaturity of being grown-ass adults who don’t know how to deal with life coming at us too damn fast.
The heart of Close Enough is the need to find humor amid soul-crushing disillusionment
I think I can speak for most Millennials when I say we’re acutely aware of and accept the fact that we’re a laughing stock generation losing relevance by the day. After all, we’re the ones who first defined the internet with ball-busting absurdist humor. Millennials Tumblred so Zoomers could TikTok.
The show succeeds because of all its specificity. Especially as one of the most accurate depictions of Los Angeles, portraying the city as more than just a stomping ground for rich celebrities. Yet what makes Close Enough truly great is how its specificity serves a much more universal relatability.
The heart of Close Enough is the need to find humor amid soul-crushing disillusionment. And isn’t that all of us in 2020? Everyone’s reckoning with the horrifying realization that absolutely no one knows what the hell they’re doing. That doesn’t just magically change after you get married or have a kid or even own a house — all those American dreams we were told to aspire toward but that seem like such impossible goals to younger generations.
The struggle — as Millennials also annoyingly like to say all the time — is real. But the realness of those struggles goes hand-in-hand with the glitching Matrix of a world we’re all trying to escape.