Mike Tyson Mysteries: The Absurdist Masterpiece You Need Right Now
Warning: Spoilers for a show where Oscar Winning Screenwriter Jim Rash voices a pompous ghost, Norm MacDonald voices an addict pigeon, and it constantly forces you to ask yourself is Mike Tyson in on the joke?
Somehow we, as a society, have been sleeping on a cartoon gem that stars Mike Tyson as an eightiesque cartoon leader of a crime solving mystery team. The world has been crumbling, we were stuck inside for 3 months, and yet we missed out on scenes where Mike Tyson has an existential crisis because he keeps inadvertently killing astronauts.
I recently watched through the series on a binge cycle after my partner and I moved into our new apartment in Brooklyn were there are entirely too few dog parks. I had seen the first season when it came out, but as life has kept me busy the last couple years, I hadn’t seen the later seasons, so I got to see much of the series with fresh eyes.
As we watched I noticed recurring themes in the show, an almost subversion of the Twilight Zone/Ray Bradbury horror variety, only instead of people lamenting in their own ironic torment, the show throws in an absurdist wrench that would rival Monty Python themselves.
For an example I have chosen to review episode 2 in season 4 “Make a Wish and Blow”, because it does not matter what order you watch the series and that is the point.
The episode begins regularly enough, with the main cast sitting in the living room of Mike Tyson’s McMansion in Las Vegas. After looking through their delivery food, Tyson realizes the order is incorrect. He runs after the deliver person, who, distracted by the yelling Mike Tyson in his rear view mirror, has a head on collision with a gas tanker, which subsequently explodes, leaving both drivers dead. Mike Tyson shrugs it off, and then it’s off to the next mystery.
This is a staple of the Mike Tyson mysteries as at least one person dies per episode, which by the fourth season has become so blasé for the characters that two deaths before breakfast is just the banality of daily life. This doesn’t merit a reaction, as is in the universe, their deaths are but just a moment in an infinite series of moments throughout time.
These themes are further explored, like in episode 9 of season 4, “The Yung and The Restless”. In that episode, Mike Tyson’s adopted daughter loses her passion for solving mysteries, so she gets a job at a clothing store. Suffice to say the clothing store was boring for her, and she regains her passion after killing a sadistic old woman that had the rest of her gang held captive. She finally sees the joy of her existence after the importance of her first kill.
As episode 2 continues, they solve the mystery of why a little girl’s wish didn’t come true, a seemingly innocent mystery until they arrive at the trailer in which the little girl lives. They ask they girl what her wish was for, which she said her mom had told her that stating your wish would nullify its ability to come true. Her mother replied, “I probably told you that so you’d shut up.” This is but one instance of foreshadowing showing that this poor girl’s innocence is at peril because of her unfounded belief that her parents are decent.
After an unnecessarily complicated set of rules to get to the Wishing Well, in which a baby deer dies by getting hit by the mystery van in front of its parents (foreshadowing), the gang clears out the Wishing Well, and the girls wish, that her father came home, is granted.
Her father magically appears in a prison uniform, and immediately starts cooking meth, which then explodes the trailer. The girl survives, and is adopted by the deer couple that had lost their deer child earlier in the episode – showing that the girl was better off abandoning the structures and systems that placed her in that situation in the first place.
This may all seem like too much thought for a show that where an anthropomorphic pigeon mentions its bird dick in every episode. I would argue that is reductive. There are plenty of episodes that were clearly written by well read, or at least clever, writers that genuinely tried to deliver something truly unique and entertaining. And I believe that is something that needs to be noticed, especially now.