Green Eggs and Ham as an animated show? It’s actually quite good, you know.
By Melissa Farthing, Copy Editor
Once upon a time, in April 2015, Netflix announced that it had picked up a thirteen-episode series order based on Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. Being in eighth grade at the time, I thought absolutely nothing of it.
“Dr. Seuss animated adaptations are never good,” I probably said aloud. I can’t entirely remember since this was seven years ago. “Besides, it will clearly be aimed at preschoolers. Pass!”
Flash forward four years later to when I was a wee freshman at Huntington University. Green Eggs and Ham finally dropped on Netflix, and I still had no interest in watching it. That is until I heard the internet start talking about the animation.
“It’s all hand-drawn!” random strangers online gushed. “That’s so rare nowadays. It’s so beautiful and spectacular and awesome!”
Having a deep appreciation for animation (it is my major, after all), I was curious to see what this so-called “amazing” hand-drawn animation looked like. So on a chilly fall night, I opened my Netflix app and turned on Green Eggs and Ham.
“It’s just to see how the animation looks,” I thought, remembering my preconceived disdain for the show in middle school. “I’ll only watch one episode, and then I’ll be done.”
That was a mistake because then I became hooked. Not only was the animation gorgeous, but the story was actually *gasp* interesting!
“Wait a minute, this show is supposed to be cheap toddler fodder!” I thought as the credits for episode one rolled. “Why do I want to watch more?”
I’ll tell my past self why, because the show is incredible! What many (including myself) believed to be another sub-par Dr. Seuss cartoon turned out to be a piece of art filled with deep, relatable characters and a fun, engaging plotline. Season one was its own self-contained story but ended on a cliffhanger that left fans on the edge of their seats.
That was November 2019, and just last month, the long-awaited second season of Green Eggs and Ham, adequately titled The Second Serving, finally arrived. I knew that the hiatus in-between seasons would be lengthy. Still, I waited patiently as I continued my college journey. As I’m wrapping up my junior year, I can now return to the show I remember loving so much.
Green Eggs and Ham follows two characters: Sam-I-Am, and Guy-Am-I (you know, the grumpy dude from the book who didn’t want to eat the green eggs and ham). In season one, the two unlikely friends are whisked off on an adventure to return a strange animal called the Chickeraffe (think a cross between a giraffe and Kevin from Up) to its natural habitat. There were multiple plot twists that left me feeling very confused but in the best way! The twists made the story exciting, which was part of the reason why I enjoyed season one so much. But perhaps the biggest twist occurred at the end of episode 13 when Sam gets a clue to where his mother lives (a plot point brought up in a bombshell revelation in episode 10). This scene is exactly where we start off in The Second Serving, and it gets crazy from there.
Green Eggs and Ham: The Second Serving is a little shorter than season one (10 episodes vs. 13) but still packs an emotional punch. The Second Serving is loosely based on another Dr. Seuss book, The Butter Battle Book. This is how Sam’s mother, Pam-I-Am, is roped into the plot. Turns out, she’s an international super spy on a mission to return a dangerous substance called the Moo-Lacka-Moo (it’s Dr. Seuss, just go with it). This highly explosive substance is sought after by two nations, Yookia and Zookia. Each wants it for a nuclear weapon that will destroy the other country. Sounds dark for a children’s cartoon, but the conflict never gets too scary. The reason why the lands are fighting? They can’t agree on how to butter their toast! See, I told you that the plot was lighthearted.
So, was the wait for Green Eggs and Ham: The Second Serving worth it? In my opinion, an astounding yes!
After watching episode one of season two, my first impressions were that the show is just as good as I remember. Many times, sequels suffer a dip in quality from their predecessors. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Green Eggs and Ham. The animation is just as expressive, and the writing just as strong. It doesn’t feel like there is a two-and-a-half-year gap in-between seasons at all.
Because the show takes so long to produce and has an extremely high budget (five to six million dollars per episode!), each season of Green Eggs and Ham is almost like an extended feature film. Every detail, from the character’s facial muscles to how the grass in each scene is shaded, is taken into account. Not to say that other animated shows don’t have excellent art direction, but Green Eggs and Ham takes it to another level.
Two of my favorite artistic choices in The Second Serving occurred towards the end of the season. In episode eight, a happy scene quickly shifts gears when Sam discovers a hidden motive behind returning the Moo-Lacka-Moo to Yookia. Upon this revelation, the scene’s color palette changes slightly to become less saturated, giving the room a sickly feel. Immediately, the audience understands exactly how dire the situation is. In the next episode, there’s a scene where E.B. and her new boyfriend, Looka, embrace. The camera performs a complete 360-degree turn around them, which is definitely a challenge to animate in 2D. Of course, it was flawless. At that point I thought, “Okay, now the animators are just showing off.”
Many of the characters from season one return, but there are new characters as well. I mentioned Looka in the previous paragraph, who is the son of Yookia’s leader, the Dooka of Yookia (again, it’s Dr. Suess, so just go with it). I’m not typically a fan of romance plots, but I didn’t find this one to be particularly painful because it meant we got to see more of E.B., a character I grew to love in season one. Another new addition this season is, obviously, Sam’s mother, Pam-I-Am. Pam was mentioned a few times in season one, but viewers had no idea who she actually was until episode one of The Second Serving. I honestly was afraid that the show might pull the “hidden villain” card with Pam, but that thankfully doesn’t happen. We find out why she left Sam years ago through a very somber but well-done flashback in episode eight. Again, lots of fabulous artistic choices were made!
Remember how I mentioned an emotional punch earlier? Yeah, season one had plenty of those, and season two follows suit. At first, it appears that Pam will not make amends with her son, but the two continue to grow closer as the season progresses. The culmination of their newfound relationship occurs in episode five, where Pam essentially relives Sam’s childhood that she initially missed. I won’t give away how this happens, but in my opinion, it was a brilliant and creative setup. There’s also a plot point involving Guy and his new step-daughter E.B. Guy makes a decision to protect E.B., but instead, he ends up hurting her further. The turmoil between the characters felt raw and authentic. I appreciated that the writers wanted to explore this messy step-daughter/step-father relationship, especially as a viewer with divorced parents. As this is a show aimed at families, thankfully, every character gets a happy ending.
Overall, I’m delighted with how Green Eggs and Ham: The Second Serving played out. I think season one will always have a special place in my heart as my favorite, but season two definitely hit the high bar that season one set. Unlike season one, The Second Serving doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, which means season three is probably off the table. However, I think season two left things off on a nice note, and while it would be cool to see more, it isn’t necessary.
So, go watch Green Eggs and Ham on Netflix! It’s certainly better than collecting…sticks. Oof, I guess rhyming isn’t one of my talents.