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Best Netflix Animated Series, Cartoons, and TV Shows



Best Netflix Animated Series, Cartoons, and TV Shows

When it comes to streaming content on Netflix, you have a lot of choices. A lot. We’re here to help you narrow the vast library down to something a little more manageable. And if you’re looking for classic cartoons, world-famous anime series, or the latest in computer-generated animation, then you’ve come to the right place!

Each month, we’ll comb through Netflix’s collection of animated series, from traditional childhood favorites to the streaming provider’s own original series. If you’re an anime fan, there’s a lot here to be excited about, though Netflix does struggle with providing the entire run of some of the longer series, often offering up only the first season as a teaser. However, they’re also the only place to find current, ongoing series like the rebooted Voltron Legendary Defender and the Emmy-winning Trollhunters from Guillermo del Toro. And if you want to relive some of your favorite childhood moments, or share then with younger audiences, shows like The Magic School Bus are a great start!

As Netflix continues to add new shows, we’ll revisit Netflix’s new additions and updates to ongoing series to bring you the best of the best of their animated TV series offerings. Be sure to come back to see what’s changed, and let us know your favorites in the comments and we’ll make sure they get added to the list! In the meantime, check out the best available animated TV series below.


Editor’s note: This list was updated on January 6 to include “Aggretsuko.”

RELATED: The Best Kids & Family Movies on Netflix


Created by: Rarecho


Cast: Erica Mendez, Josh Petersdorf, Katelyn Gault, Ben Diskin, G.J. Bowes, Tara Platt, Todd Haberkorn, Debra Cardona, Misty Lee, Max Mittelman, Billy Kametz, Griffin Burns, Katlyn Robrok, SunWong Cho, Deva Marie Gregory, Abby Trott, Trevor Devall

There’s something incredibly charming yet equally cathartic about Aggretsuko, which first started out as a series of animated shorts before becoming an anime for Netflix. It might revolve around an anthropomorphic red panda, but said panda (Retsuko) is also stuck in a dead-end job dealing with so many relatable problems that face people of a certain generation. In order to cope with her stress, Retsuko heads to her local karaoke bar every night and leaves it all on the stage as she screams through some epic death metal tunes. Who hasn’t wanted to do exactly that before, am I right? But the show isn’t just about the benefits of releasing stress; it’s about getting in touch with your emotions and evolving how you face certain problems instead of instinctively running away from them — which, in the end, helps Retsuko find even more of her inner voice. – Carly Lane


Created by: Christian Linke and Alex Yee


Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Purnell, Kevin Alejandro, Katie Leung, Jason Spisak, Toks Olagundoye, JB Blanc, Harry Lloyd, Mia Sinclair Jenness

There might be no bigger surprise on the list in recent memory than Arcane, which premiered almost quietly in contrast to how it concluded — with an almost-immediate renewal for Season 2. It’s technically set in the realm of League of Legends, but for any newbies who are worried about whether the series will be too difficult to follow without lots of preceding lore in their back pocket, fear not: this is an example of a show that you can dive into without really even needing to know much of a backstory. The series thrives on characters over lore, and as Vi, lead Hailee Steinfeld solidifies her rule over the most honored season of television known as Hailee Steinfall (which consists of this, Dickinson, and Hawkeye). Treat yourself to some stunning visuals, an engrossing story, and the promise of more to come. – Carly Lane

Cowboy Bebop

Created by: Hajime Yatate (consisting of Shinichirō Watanabe, Keiko Nobumoto, Toshihiro Kawamoto, Kimitoshi Yamane, and Yoko Kanno)

Cast: Koichi Yamadera, Unsho Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara, Aoi Tada, Gara Takashima, Norio Wakamoto, Tsutomu Taruki, Miki Nagasawa

Albeit short-lived overall (only clocking in at a total of 26 episodes, which is admittedly brief for an anime series), Cowboy Bebop has earned plenty of critical and audience acclaim and with good reason. The series, which first premiered in 1998, is set to become a live-action adaptation on Netflix — and thanks to the streamer, you can also check out the anime’s only season beforehand if you want to find out exactly how closely the upcoming TV show nailed Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, and a Very Good Boy named Ein. (Plus, who can say no to composer Yoko Kanno’s legendary score?) Whether you prefer your anime subbed or dubbed, both versions are quality too. – Carly Lane


Inside Job

Created by: Shion Takeuchi

Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Christian Slater, Clark Duke, Tisha Campbell, Andy Daly, Chris Diamantopoulos, John DiMaggio, Bobby Lee, Brett Gelman

Delightfully demented, this animated series from Gravity Falls writer Shion Takeuchi takes its wild premise and keeps the energy escalating. Centered around Cognito, Inc, the nefarious corporation behind all of the conspiracy theories that you thought were fake but are actually far too real, the hilarious plotlines (including a riff on what really happened with the original moon landing that will totally change the way you think about Neil and Buzz) come with a fascinating rumination on whether it’s possible to fix a broken system from within. Plus, the voice cast is extraordinary, with Lizzy Caplan standing out as a nascent mad scientist whose heart is somewhere close to the right place. After only 10 episodes, Inside Job is a cult classic in the making. – Liz Shannon Miller

Neo Yokio

Created by: Ezra Koenig


Cast: Jaden Smith, Jude Law, Tavi Gevinson, Susan Sarandon, The Kid Mero, Desus Nice, Jason Schwartzman

A strange but lovely little series, Neo Yokio comes from unexpected television creator Ezra Koenig and features a wild voice cast, including Jaden Smith as a disaffected but wealthy demon fighter and Jude Law as his loyal robot butler. While it’s a short run (one season, plus a Christmas special), the series is a pop of wild imagination set in a very different world, with a very different vibe from more traditional anime. Yet nonetheless just as entertaining. – Liz Shannon Miller

Masters of the Universe: Revelation

Created by: Kevin Smith

Cast: Chris Wood, Mark Hamill, Liam Cunningham, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lena Headey, Diedrich Bader, Alicia Silverstone, Stephen Root, Griffin Newman, Susan Eisenberg, Kevin Michael Richardson, Kevin Conroy, Henry Rollins, Jason Mewes, Justin Long, Tony Todd, Phil LaMarr, Cree Summer, Harley Quinn Smith, Tiffany Smith, Dennis Haysbert


This animated series from, yes, nerd auteur Kevin Smith might have pissed off some fanboys when it premiered this summer, but that’s because they weren’t ready for this fresh, surprising, funny, and heart-wrenching take on the world of He-Man and Eternia. The series begins with a shocking twist, followed by serious apocalypse vibes as Teela (perfectly voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the one tasked to save the literal universe from ending. The voice cast is packed with both legends as well as unexpectedly great choices, with a special shout-out owed to Griffin Newman, whose voice work as Orko totally transforms the character from a one-time punchline to the heart of the series. – Liz Shannon Miller

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Created by: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko

Cast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, Jack DeSena, Dante Basco, Jessie Flower, Dee Bradley Baker, Mako, Greg Baldwin, Grey DeLisle, Mark Hamill

We’re adding Avatar: The Last Airbender to this list after an extended absence, since its availability has been in flux in recent years. But perhaps you’ve never heard of the wildly popular and influential animated series? Perhaps you want to watch it for the first time? Well you should do so! Charming, smart, emotional, and enthralling, Avatar stands out for the way in which it brought together so many sensibilities for, ostensibly, a children’s show — but one that transcends all levels to stand out as an epic achievement in television, across the board. Plus, it’s also quite cute and funny sometimes! (Appa freaking rules.) If you’ve never seen it before, give it a shot, and if it’s been a while, you might consider binge-ing again. – Liz Shannon Miller


F Is For Family

Created by: Bill Burr and Michael Price

Cast: Bill Burr, Laura Dern, Justin Long, Debi Derryberry, Haley Reinhart, Mo Collins, Trevor Devall, Kevin Michael Richardson, Sam Rockwell

Delivering Archie Bunker vibes in animated form, Bill Burr uses F Is For Family to take an unfiltered look at his childhood growing up in suburbia during the 1970s. The stacked voice cast, along with the grounded storytelling and eclectic characters, go a long way towards making this show stand out against similar series, with Burr’s distinctive rasp making up the rest of the distance. As of writing the fifth and final season is set to debut soon; it’ll be missed, but we’ll have plenty of memories to look back on (and because they’re not our memories, they’ll be hilarious to watch again). – Liz Shannon Miller


Tuca and Bertie

Created by: Lisa Hanawalt

Cast: Tiffany Haddish, Ali Wong, Steven Yeun

While only Season 1 is available on Netflix (Season 2 was picked up by Adult Swim), Tuca and Bertie is a weird and wonderful look at the world through the eyes of creator Lisa Hanawalt. Focusing on two very different but very close best friends, who both happen to be bird people, the series delivers a vibrantly animated and genuinely funny exploration of the many issues which Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) and Bertie (Ali Wong) face on a daily basis, including mental health issues, substance abuse issues, the #MeToo movement, and resurfacing trauma. The voice cast listed above is only the tip of the iceberg, with an extremely exciting collection of guest stars including Richard E. Grant and Nicole Byer making appearances, and there’s such depth and nuance to the storytelling that certain episodes will stick with you forever. This is a show to be savored and cherished. – Liz Shannon Miller

BoJack Horseman

Created by: Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Cast: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins, Aaron Paul


One of the saddest, most honest, and also hilarious animated series ever made, BoJack Horseman‘s premise (a washed-up sitcom star’s career gets a late-in-life chance at rejuvenation — if he doesn’t fuck it up) lends itself to an incredibly dense and nuanced series of jokes about Hollywood culture. But really the show examines personal responsibility, the ways our personal trauma leads us to help and hurt those around us, and whether or not redemption and forgiveness are possible, or even if they should be. It’s a profound examination of modern life and the eternal strive to be better, with the added bonus of a beautifully stylized world (as powered by the imagination of lead designer/executive producer Lisa Hanawalt) which imagines anthropomorphized animals coexisting with humans in increasingly imaginative ways. BoJack Horseman will change the way you look at life, and make you think about living the best possible version of it. Its legacy will hopefully live on for decades. – Liz Shannon Miller

Big Mouth

Created by: Andrew Goldberg, Nick Kroll, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett

Cast: Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Jessi Klein, Jason Mantzoukas, Jenny Slate, Fred Armisen, Maya Rudolph, Jordan Peele, Andrew Rannells, Ayo Edebiri

This Emmy-winning favorite offers up a skewed look at adolescence — very specifically the early stages of puberty — that may or may not be a show that kids of the age being depicted should watch. But should they manage to convince their parents that it’s a good idea, they’ll find the world of pre-teens Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nick (Nick Kroll) is not just extremely crude and funny, but also surprisingly heartfelt and relatable. The show’s primary hook — that each child has a “hormone monster” acting as the worst kind of guardian angel as they deal with their changing bodies, family drama, and crushes of the requited and unrequited kind — fuels so much of the comedy, with the stellar voice cast providing valuable backup. – Liz Shannon Miller


PJ Masks

Creator: Les Pyjamasques by Romuald Racioppo

Directors: Christian De Vita, Wilson Dos Santos

Cast: Kyle Breitkopf, Addison Holley, Jacob Ewaniuk, Alex Thorne

PJ Masks is a series that regularly appears on our Collider Kids segment, in part because it’s a perfect combination of imaginative, superheroic, kid-friendly action-adventure series and entertaining morality tale. The series follows three 6-year-olds–Connor, Amaya, and Greg–who become Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko at nighttime and fight crime as the title superhero team. Together they go on comic book-inspired adventures to defeat criminals, solve mysteries, and learn valuable lessons. PJ Masks is a great answer to the current superhero story trend and one that’s much more appropriate for younger viewers since it skews even younger than even Miraculous.

Spirit Riding Free

Creator: Aury Wallington


Cast: Amber Frank, Bailey Gambertoglio, Sydney Park, Nolan North, Andy Pessoa, Kari Wahlgren, Tiya Sircar

Here’s one for the kiddos, especially if they’re into horses and horse-riding. Spirit Riding Free is a follow-up series to the Oscar-nominated 2002 animated feature film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. This show follows Spirit’s son, Spirit Jr., who becomes the stead of a young girl named Lucky Prescott. Curiously, the series shies away from Spirit’s adventures in the Wild West and focuses instead on Lucky’s attempts to fit in and find friends in the town of Miradero, Oregon. Spirit Riding Free is not meant for everyone but it’s certainly accessible to anyone. Youngsters will find the main characters relatable and even admirable as they go about their chores, solve prickly problems, and make mistakes along the way. Parents who watch along with their young ones won’t be bored to tears either since Lucky and Spirit often join their human and horse friends for trail rides, riding competitions, and all sorts of Wild West hijinks. Check this one out if you haven’t yet!


Director: Donna Brockopp

Cast: Andrew Francis, Richard Ian Cox, Brian Drummond, Matt Hill, Ashleigh Ball, Cree Summer

Okay, stick with me on this one. Dinotrux might lose the majority of older viewers just by reading the title alone–I know it almost lost me–but the proof is in the prehistoric pudding for this DreamWorks Animation series. If it sounds like a mash-up, well, technically that’s because it is a mash-up, but it’s done well. There’s a Tyrannosaurus rex merged with a megaton excavator and wrecking ball, a little lizard meshed with a rotary drill for all sorts of detail work, and a half-Stegosaurus, half-garbage truck critter that’s tons of fun. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for these clever characters who are just as entertaining on the screen as they are in toy form. Dinotrux is a modern cartoon that feels like something that could have existed back in the dino-craze of the 80s and 90s, just with much better animation software. Like those morally aware toons, Dinotrux puts the focus on a disparate gathering of critters in the Mechazoic era working together to defend each other from predators and build up their community. It definitely skews younger, but it’s one of those series that kids will likely remember for decades to come. Update: The story continues with Dinotrux Supercharged.


Kulipari: An Army of Frogs

Creator: Trevor Pryce

Cast: Charles Adler, Lacey Chabert, Keith David, Josh Keaton, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, Mikey Kelley

Kulipari: An Army of Frogs is one of those original series you might have missed, but it’s a fun new entry into the realm of animated kids shows. This one comes, perhaps surprisingly, from the mind of former NFL star Trevor Pryce and is based on his novel series. The story itself is a great throwback to classic fantasy/action/adventure tales told through anthropomorphic animal pals, and though it does feature battles and a bit of violence, it’s pretty kid-friendly. Kulipari centers on Darel, the son of a famous Kulipari warrior (an elite group known for their martial skills, heightened abilities, and natural poison) who dreams of joining their ranks despite his lack of talent. But when the Amphibilands is threatened by the powerful alliance of the Scorpions and the mystical Spider Queen, Darel and his pals must step up if they hope to save their friends, family, and home. Kulipari is a cool new entry in the genre and it’s still early on, making now the perfect time to check it out! (Bonus: There’s a follow-up series titled Kulipari: Dream Walker if you want more fightin’ frogs!)

Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir

Creator: Thomas Astruc


Cast: Cristina Valenzuela, Bryce Papenbrook, Keith Silverstein, Mela Lee, Max Mittelman, Carrie Keranen, Selah Victor, Benjamin Diskin

The French CGI action/adventure series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is an instant eye-grabber thanks to the fantastic designs of Thomas Astruc and the animated stylings of Zagtoon and Method Animation. It’s a story about the titular superheroes, mild-mannered Parisian teenagers who transform into their supersuits in order to keep the city safe from supervillains. Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste somehow remain ignorant of each other’s true identities even as the sparks fly between them either in costume or as plain-clothes school students. Miraculous is a super-stylish series that, to me, is the modern equivalent of Sailor Moon. It’s catchy, it’s high-concept, it’s got a lot of action packed into each episode, and the Parisian, adolescent romance is at the heart of the whole story. This is one of the cooler titles available on Netflix so do yourself a favor and check it out before it becomes the next big thing.

All Hail King Julien

Executive Producers: Mitch Watson, Bret Haaland

Cast: Danny Jacobs, Andy Richter, Kevin Michael Richardson, India de Beaufort, Jeff Bennett

The multiple Emmy award-winning DreamWorks series All Hail King Julien is about to launch its fifth and final season on Netflix. That’s a remarkable feat, especially when you factor in the show’s 78 overall episodes and a spin-off season that tackled ambitious storytelling in the “Exiled” season. Fans of the show can expect a solid conclusion to the series, plus a few surprises along the way. If you’re a fan of the Madagascar movies, then you’ll already be familiar with the characters in this series. The story centers on Julien, the lemur from those movies, who finds himself as a reluctant king before the events of Madagascar. This all-out comedy has plenty of laughs for the little ones, but thanks to the show’s subversive and satirical humor pulled from the headlines, there’s an awful lot for older viewers to enjoy as well.


Buddy Thunderstruck

Creator: Ryan Wiesbrock

Cast: Brian Atkinson, Ted Raimi, Debi Derryberry, Philip Maurice Hayes, Leigh Kelly

This relatively new entry from stop-motion animation experts Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (Robot Chicken) is a more kid-friendly series than we’re used to seeing from them, but it’s also fun for the whole family. Buddy Thunderstruck centers on the title character, a rip-roaring, race-truck drivin’ dog and his ferret/mechanic pal. It’s one part Talladega Nights and one part Robot Chicken, all at a fast pace that never loses steam. If you’re looking for a different sort of comedy presented in the rarely seen stop-motion animation, Buddy Thunderstruck is your winner!

The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants

Creator: Dav Pilkey


Directors: Octavio E. Rodriguez, Seung Woo Cha, Todd Grimes, Kevin Peaty, John Harvatine IV

Cast: Nat Faxon, Jay Gragnani, Ramone Hamilton, Sean Astin, Peter Hastings The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants brings comics creator Dav Pilkey‘s hilarious adventures of George and Harold to life, even as the troublesome duo bring life to their own comic book creations in turn. Now streaming its second season, the animated series from DreamWorks and Titmouse is an absolute blast for kids of all ages. There are plenty of kid-friendly jokes from beginning to end, but there are also lots of more adult-oriented laughs to be found throughout. This is one series you won’t mind sitting down to watch as a family unit.

The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants follows George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two best friends who’ve bonded through their love of pranking, comic books and being the thorns in Principal Krupp’s side. In Season 2, George and Harold must try to keep their grades up in order to go to summer camp! But with Principal Krupp sent away, will they come out on top in a school run by Melvin and a Cyborg Melvin from the future?

Carmen Sandiego

Creator: Duane Capizzi

Directors: Kevin Dart, Jos Humphrey, Kenny Park


Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Liam O’Brien, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Kari Wahlgren Carmen Sandiego is the latest adaptation of the storied franchise that began as an educational computer game. Over the years, there have been live-action game shows, animated series, and more expansions than you can count for the title, but Netflix’s new animated series brings Carmen Sandiego into the 21st century and reinvents the title thief as a likeable antihero. Unfortunately, it pretty much leaves the educational aspects behind in favor of a fashionable action-adventure story, but it’s a fun watch otherwise.

Everybody asks “WHERE is Carmen Sandiego?”, but nobody asks “WHO is Carmen Sandiego?” The iconic woman in red returns for new international capers and a peek into her past.


TV News

After Driving Again And More, Britney Spears Shares Her Latest Taste Of Post-Conservatorship Freedom




After Driving Again And More, Britney Spears Shares Her Latest Taste Of Post-Conservatorship Freedom

They say it’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary, and that’s likely particularly true if you’ve been denied access to those things for an extended period of time. After Britney Spears was released from the conservatorship she’d been under, the singer has been reintroducing herself to some of life’s simple pleasures. Last summer Spears was super pumped about regaining the freedom to drive, and in January the “Toxic” singer documented drinking her first glass of wine in over a decade. The newlywed continued to celebrate the post-conservatorship life by sharing her first trip to a bar.

Fans of the former pop singer are accustomed to seeing Britney Spears dancing and twirling and modeling different outfits at her and Sam Asghari’s new home. However, the “Toxic” singer took her followers on an exciting field trip, in which she and her assistant patronized a local drinking establishment. She shared her trip — and a sarcastic remark — on Instagram:

(Image credit: Instagram)

As she and her assistant Victoria Asher apparently enjoyed a drink and an app, Britney Spears couldn’t help but throw a little shade at her family, remarking that she was “so so grateful” for not being allowed to have a cocktail for the 13 years after her father Jamie Spears took control of her life. In fact, the 40-year-old said in her post this is her first time to partake in such an adventure. In the video, she shared:

This is my first time at a bar. First time. I feel so fancy, and I feel so sophisticated.

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TV News

How ‘Yellowjackets’ Stars Survived Hollywood




How ‘Yellowjackets’ Stars Survived Hollywood

Sure, they may have eaten a person back in the day. But there are some things the grown women of Yellowjackets just wouldn’t do. On this, the actresses who play them — Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci — agree, as they gather in a backyard in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon in late July, just a few weeks before they start filming the second season of their breakout show.

The Showtime survival thriller, created and executive produced by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, earned seven Emmy nominations, including outstanding drama series and acting nominations for Lynskey and Ricci. The Yellowjackets storyline alternates between 1996 and the present day as it follows members of a high school girls soccer team whose plane crashes and strands them for 19 months in the wilderness, where they resort to cannibalism to survive.

Part of the show’s nostalgic appeal relies on its casting of these actresses, three of whom audiences knew as young women for their slyly offbeat roles in films like The Addams Family (Ricci), Cape Fear (Lewis) and Heavenly Creatures (Lynskey), to play the crash survivors as adults. In this conversation with THR, Cypress, Lewis, Lynskey and Ricci disclose their ’90s regrets, share what it means when you call an actress “quirky” and reveal how survival bonds women — including in the trenches of Hollywood.

Who here knew each other before the show?

MELANIE LYNSKEY (Points to Christina Ricci.) We knew each other a little bit. I went to a Nick Cave concert by myself, and Christina came up and —


CHRISTINA RICCI I was very excited to see you.

LYNSKEY So excited. We were having a lovely chat, and then she’s like, “Are you here by yourself?” She’s the coolest person of all time, and I was intimidated. I just felt embarrassed to say, “I’ve come to a concert by myself.” I was like 24 or something.

RICCI I was impressed because I couldn’t go anywhere by myself.

LYNSKEY I also went to see Clay Aiken by myself because nobody would come with me.

It’s surprising that none of you had worked together over the years.

JULIETTE LEWIS It’s wild when you’ve been around so long, and you sort of have a kindred connection to people. There’s certain actors you’re like, “Mmm, we’re not of the same tree,” and then there’s other actors you’re like, “Oh, yeah. We have some roots.”


Juliette, Melanie and Christina, all three of your Wikipedia entries say some version of, “Often plays quirky or offbeat characters.” What do those words mean to you?

LEWIS Real people, specific and unpredictable.

LYNSKEY I remember I got cast in a movie when I was like 21, and the description of the character before I auditioned was “Blah, blah, blah, the beautiful girl who sits next to him in school.” Then, at the table read, it had been changed to “Blah, blah, blah, cute and quirky.” I was like, “You don’t need to change it. Just keep it …” They’re like, “We better change this description or people will be like, wrong actress.” So, sometimes it feels … I don’t know. I never liked that word, “quirky.”

RICCI When you say that all of us had this description, that to me speaks to a past time, when, if you weren’t the leading-lady ingenue then you were quirky and offbeat. All right, so there’s two groups for actresses? In a way, I’m fine with being in the category I’m in because what it means to me is that I have made an effort in my career to do things that I feel like I haven’t seen before. So, in some ways, I like it. In other ways, I’m like, “Ugh.” It’s a little dismissive. A little cute and dismissive.

LEWIS We come from the ’90s where, when I had blond hair, I was the pretty airhead, and then I dyed my hair dark, and I was the wisecracking, sarcastic girl. But yeah, I think it’s really neat that we’ve all carved this path of range and specificity.

Isn’t another term for that “character actor”?


RICCI But “character actress” used to be something they used to describe an ugly woman.


RICCI Back in the late ’90s, my agents were always like, “We have to be so careful you don’t become a character actress. If we’re not careful, you’re going to end up just like Jennifer Jason Leigh.” I was like, “I like her.” They were so afraid of me not being a leading lady, of me not being sexually attractive to people. It was really the last thing I ever wanted, was for anyone to be attracted to me.

LEWIS My dad was a character actor. So to me, it was something that was super noble. It was a world of adventure and not limiting. I rebelled against the system, the PR system of being in some bizarre idea of beauty. I really revolted against that, for better or for worse. Crying in a bathroom at a photo shoot, like, “I won’t come out.” They want these doe-eyed looks. That’s for sure what I didn’t do in pictures, so I always looked slightly insane, which I prefer over, like, “Do you want to fuck me?”

Tawny, what was your sense of what the expectations were for you when you were starting out?

CYPRESS I’ve had a different row to hoe. I’ve spent my whole career doing shitty roles of the sassy one on the side. Honestly, growing up as an actor, I wanted to be an ingenue.


LEWIS Isn’t that funny? And I wanted to be sassy and opinionated.

CYPRESS I couldn’t be an ingenue. I just couldn’t. It’s just not in me, you know? I was never presented with those roles, ever, and I was like, “Oh, OK. That’s not who I am.” I sort of, growing older, have embraced my Jersey side, and I am who I am, and this is what you get.

LYNSKEY I started calling myself a character actor in interviews when I was really young because I think it was reclaiming the term or something. I think I just was like, “That’s what I am.” My agents had all that kind of intensity around it, too. I remember when I did Coyote Ugly

RICCI Oh my God, you got a piece in that? I went up for that, and I didn’t get it.

CYPRESS I did too.

LYNSKEY I played the best friend from Jersey. But the scrutiny that was on Piper [Perabo], who’s one of the coolest, smartest women, just the way people were talking about her body, talking about her appearance, focusing on what she was eating. All the girls had this regimen they had to go on. It was ridiculous. I was already starving myself and as thin as I could possibly be for this body, and I was still a [size] four. That was already people putting a lot of Spanx on me in wardrobe fittings and being very disappointed when they saw me, the costume designer being like, “Nobody told me there would be girls like you.” Really intense feedback about my physicality, my body, people doing my makeup and being like, “I’m just going to help you out by giving you a bit more of a jawline and stuff.” Just the feedback was constantly like, “You’re not beautiful. You’re not beautiful.” In your early 20s, so much of it is about beauty, and how people respond to you, and do people want to fuck you? Do people think you’re their best friend? Even the best friend thing, I started to be like, “I don’t want to do that too many times.”


Did you have to unlearn anything that people tried to teach you when you were starting out?

LEWIS I had developed such a survival mechanism to protect my autonomy, sort of, “You don’t own me. You don’t tell me my value. Only I do.” I was extremely self-critical — it still happens — of my work. It’s almost like a defense mechanism that no one could talk shit about me more than I can. There’s all these things that are wrapped up in how to survive a system. That’s what I’m unlearning today — to be softer. This is a really remarkable industry to be a part of. I feel honored to be a part of it and what it gave me, but I do still hold on to what it took from me in my youth.

Given what you all experienced coming into the industry, do you feel at all protective of the younger actresses who play the younger versions of your characters?

LYNSKEY (Begins to cry.) So much. I feel very protective. At the beginning of production, I sent them all an email, and I just was like, “Whatever you need, if you need a voice, if you need someone to go to the producers for you, whatever you need,” and they were kind of like, “Cool. Thanks.” They’re fine.

CYPRESS Totally fine. Jas [Jasmin Savoy Brown] was a boss on set. She’s like, “This is how we’re doing my hair. This is what we’re doing.”

RICCI They’re very much of a different generation.


CYPRESS I am protective of Jas in the fact that she is so sexually positive, which I love. She has taught me so much, just knowing her as a person. But I’m like a mama bear to her, or a big sister. I’m like, “What are you putting online right now?” She’s like, “Whatever. Whatever. This is life, man. I love myself.” I’m protective, but I’m also in awe of her, you know?

LEWIS But there is a thing I always want to say to young people: Cultivate other interests deeply so that you’re not getting all your life’s blood from this industry, or your self-worth.

Is there anything you miss about the ’90s?

LYNSKEY I have a lot of love letters from the ’90s.

RICCI Someone used to fax me love letters when he was on tour. I did not save them. I throw everything out. I had a specific thing when I was a child, that we would be punished by the things that we loved being destroyed. My husband, who is a much healthier individual, has gone back and found all my old magazine covers on Etsy because he thinks it’s horrible that I never saved them. As a child, I learned that this is going to be taken from me, so why save it anyway?

LYNSKEY That’s heartbreaking. Well, I saved everything because I’m basically an emotional hoarder. I have this literal suitcase, an old-fashioned suitcase.


RICCI This is very dark, but I would just like to go back to that age and do it over again and not make so many fucking mistakes. Honestly, I regret so much.

CYPRESS Me too. One thousand percent.

LEWIS Me too.

RICCI I’d like to go back to 1996 and be like, “All right … we had a practice run. It went OK, but it wasn’t really as great as we wanted it to be. We’re going to do this again.” People who are like, “I have no regrets.” What fucking magic life did you live?

LEWIS Where they go, “I don’t regret anything because that led up to this moment.” Really? The thing that could’ve put my dad in an early grave, I fucking regret it. Yes. I was very scary as a young teenage person.

CYPRESS Yeah. I hurt a lot of people growing up, and I wish that I didn’t. I was going through my memory box. It was my great-great-grandmother’s she brought over from Hungary. It’s huge, and it’s filled to the brim with everything from my life. I came across a note from high school. It was my first gay friend, and it broke my heart because he was like, “I want to thank you for not talking to me anymore and just cutting me off the way that you did. It made it hurt less.” I literally was crying, and I had to call him and be like, “I just came across this note, and I’m so sorry that I was that person to you.” When I think back, I think how wonderful our relationship was, but I was a shit, you know? I would definitely do so many things differently.


LEWIS I’ve had those moments where I turned into … Because I’ve been bullied, but when I was 11 and got in a fight with a girl, I was mean [the same way] how a girl was mean to me. I was really vicious.

LYNSKEY I think people without regrets are narcissists. I think they’re lying to themselves.

RICCI Denial is the only way to get up that river.

What did you all feel when you learned that Roe v. Wade was overturned?

RICCI It’s really horrible to be told so plainly what your value is.

LEWIS I wish the two factions can talk, like, “Hey, what do you do with a bad situation, poverty and drug addiction, and rape?” You have to have an option that is salvageable or is sustainable for the survival of a person, a woman who’s living.


CYPRESS I don’t really give a shit what your reason to have an abortion is. It’s your fucking body. I don’t really fucking care. You don’t want to be a mom, right? That’s your fucking decision. Look, we can put morals on it and say, “Well, only when you’re raped, or only if it’s …” It’s like no, dude. It’s either in or out. We’re either telling women what to do with their bodies or we let them have their own choice. I am of the mind, choice. I’m not going to judge you for making that decision.

LYNSKEY And there seems to be this general lack of compassion and empathy that’s just growing and growing. There’s so much hatred, and people are unable to look at another person’s life and go, “Oh, you know, that’s an untenable situation,” or even, “That’s a difficult situation.” There’s no grace given to anybody else. There’s no empathy. You don’t get to make decisions for somebody else. You don’t know what’s right for them.

Is there a place for TV and film in that conversation?

CYPRESS I mean, that’s what TV and film do. That’s what art is. On Yellowjackets, let’s talk about Shauna’s baby in the woods, you know? Yeah. I think we have a lot of room to speak on this subject, and I hope we do.

Did anybody have their kids on set for season one?

LYNSKEY (Points to Ricci.) We did.


RICCI And I was pregnant. I didn’t tell anyone but these ladies that I was pregnant for six months. When we started, I was six weeks pregnant. It was difficult. There were so many times where I was like, “Ooh, when they find out I’m pregnant, and they made me sit in this smoky room all day. When they realize that they made me stand for eight hours, and I’m pregnant, and I have this horrible sciatica, and it’s 100 degrees, oh, they’re going to feel so bad.” They didn’t feel bad at all. But anyway, it was fine. In fact, it would’ve been helpful if I was playing a more emotional character because I can give a real good performance when I’m pregnant, real emo.

How would you finish the sentence, “Yellowjackets is really about …”?



CYPRESS Friendship.

RICCI Haunting, the way trauma haunts you. The way you can never escape. The way it twists people in different ways.


LEWIS Aberrant survival tactics.

We know that these characters have done a bunch of aberrant things, as you say, including cannibalism. But do you have in your mind an idea that, “OK, she may have eaten another human being, but she would never do this“?

RICCI I know when they confront me because I’m like, “OK, she wouldn’t do that.” Misty wouldn’t drink that drink. Originally, in the script, she was drinking a Brandy Alexander, and I said, “No, Misty would drink a chocolate martini.” I have rules and stuff for her in my head, and they do conflict with the writers sometimes. I don’t think she actually is interested in men, at all. I think she does it because she’s bored, or because she thinks that’s what she’s supposed to do. Then, she’s also realized that she can have a lot of fun trying to trick them into having sex with her when they don’t want to. It’s like men will kind of know that you don’t want to have sex with them, but if they can get you to have sex with them, they won.

LEWIS It’s a power thing.

RICCI Misty’s way of doing it is through this really horrible manipulation, making him feel guilty and having sex with her while feeling guilty, which would be a terrible experience.

When you have a different perspective on your character than the writers, what do you do?


RICCI That’s part of the thing with TV that I’ve learned now, being involved in a production but not being one of the EPs, so you aren’t a part of creating what people do. “OK, they wrote this scene. I have to play this scene. If she was in this situation, how the fuck would she be in this situation, and why would she be?” Then, you don’t have to tell other people what you come up with. They can find out about it later when you do press.

Does anybody else have a line in their mind that their character wouldn’t cross?

LYNSKEY I had one. There was something written into a script where I was going on a date with my lover, and they had me going into my daughter’s bedroom and taking her underwear, which was just not practical because I wouldn’t fit it. She’s little. But also, ew. I think there was something, apparently, somewhere, people liked the thing in the pilot where I’m masturbating in my daughter’s bedroom. I was like, “Can that just be an isolated incident? I don’t want it to be a theme.” So I just was like, “I don’t want to do that.” They were great about it.

LEWIS It comes, I think, with experience and respect, that they appreciate if you have a point of view. I have an “anything goes” stamp on me, which they all know. But I have strong ideas, especially about my trajectory in midlife. I’ve looked at Natural Born Killers recently, and I’m like, “Jesus.” Thank goodness I had a partner like Woody Harrelson, but it is so sexual. No one forced me into that. I was a young nihilist who didn’t give a fuck, and I felt comfortable with Woody, and I liked the material. But nowadays, I’m very particular. So, they had written a sex scene, and I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know that she even gets off. I don’t know that she even can have orgasms.” That’s how deep I went. So it was more like, is she doing something to get something? At the end of the day, I just didn’t even think she fucks, sorry to be so graphic, at this juncture that you saw in season one. I think she might’ve had relationships with all of them in the wilderness. I don’t know if they’re going to write it, but that’s what I’d like to think of Natalie.

LYNSKEY That’s what I think too.

RICCI What? I never thought of that. Who would they be making out with? I guess each other.


The finale hints that there may be additional Yellowjackets who survived into adulthood. Have actors been cast for those roles?

LEWIS Wait, Melanie, didn’t you say that on our chain, that someone we like is cast to be … (At this point there is meaningful eye contact among the four women.)

RICCI We don’t know for sure. That’s what we’ve heard was close to happening.

LYNSKEY We don’t know anything.

On season one, you were making this show under the radar. Now there’s so much fan speculation. Does that change the way you approach the work?

RICCI There’s more pressure going into season two.


CYPRESS Have you guys also had that feeling of like, “Can I do this? Is it going to be good, the second season? Am I going to fuck this character up?”

LYNSKEY I have those fears.

RICCI Me too, but because TV is so fast, and you have so little time with the information, the process of talking about the show afterward helps you to evolve your take on your character. To understand things that were intended with the character that maybe weren’t clear originally because you get to hear the EPs talk about it. I’m going to make changes in the next season based on what I have come to realize through all this talking.

Like what?

RICCI Well, that’s a secret.

How much do you want to know about the path that your character is on?


CYPRESS Fuck, I want to know everything. I sit there, and when I think about the show, I think, “What the fuck are they going to do with this character?” There’s so many different parts to her right now. The dog thing. She’s now a senator. There may be an old love coming back, you know? I’m like, “How are they going to do this?” I just want to know.

LYNSKEY Now you’re a full-time dog killer.

RICCI I didn’t even know that you were supposed to be the one that killed the dog.


RICCI I thought, “Oh, well maybe somebody broke in.”

LYNSKEY That could still be, right?


CYPRESS Wait, give me more to think about.

So you don’t go to the writers and say, “To be clear, did I kill the dog?”

CYPRESS Oh, we do. They just say, “Mmm.”

RICCI “We don’t know.”

CYPRESS But they do know.

RICCI I don’t think they’re trying to control us with no information or anything. Sometimes, they don’t want to commit to something that hasn’t been necessarily set in stone. I do find it frustrating to not know, and we’re never able to know fully. I have decided to learn how to function with knowing nothing.


Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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James Gunn Addresses Peacemaker Future Amid Batgirl Cancelation




James Gunn Addresses Peacemaker Future Amid Batgirl Cancelation

Shockwaves from Warner Bros.’s cancelation of Batgirl have had many fans questioning the possibility of other DC-connected projects following suit. Amid outcries from fans of Batgirl, Michael Keaton, Brendan Fraser, and even Snyderverse fans who are always eager to picket Warner Bros., Peacemaker fans started asking James Gunn whether there was any possibility that his DC work was going to suffer amid the company’s cost-cutting exercise. Ironically, considering the history that led James Gunn to work with DCEU characters, it seems that the director and his shows are the only ones who are “safe.”

What seems like a lifetime ago, James Gunn was all set to start work on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for Disney and Marvel Studios when some old Twitter posts led to him being unceremoniously sacked. By the time Disney backtracked on their firing, Gunn was already committed to directing The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros., which is why Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has taken so long to arrive. Now, during all the chaos at Warner Bros., it appears that Gunn is not worried at all about the second season of Peacemaker getting the ax. When asked if the show was safe, Gunn simply replied:


“Yes, guys, calm down.”

That is a relief for fans of the small sub-universe Gunn is building inside the DCEU, which along with The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, is set to include at least another unannounced project and be linked to the Amanda Waller series that is in development. At least that side of the franchise doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Related: Peacemaker: Will More Suicide Squad Members Appear in Season 2?

Is Warner Bros. Still Planning on Rebooting The DCEU?

There have been rumors of a “soft-reboot” coming to the DCEU for a long time, and while it seems at times like Warner Bros. is heading in that direction, they have constantly denied any such intention. During San Diego Comic-Con, the entire focus of the Warner Bros. live-action DC panel was on Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Both of these movies have their small links to the wider DCEU, and once again, Warner Bros. seemed to be causing confusion by including a Justice League montage within the Shazam sequel while at the same time professing that they are not revisiting that particular DCEU set up in any way.

One thing clear from Dwayne Johnson’s appearance at SDCC is that he believes that Black Adam is setting the tone for a new DCEU, and based on everything else that is happening, he could be right. While there is no way of telling exactly where the franchise will be heading beyond The Flash in 2023, with new additional entries like Wonder Woman 3 constantly being stuck in limbo, it has been made clear that some big changes are being made in regards to the DCEU and fans will be hoping that those changes bring some kind of consistency to the franchise before it ends up crashing down around itself.


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