Centaurworld’s Subtle Jim Hensonisms

After a recent Netflix controversy and knowing boycotts do not work, I have ultimately decided against cancelling my subscription. Though not without first supporting the various criticisms of the discussion (transphobia, humour theory, intersectionality and employee walkout) and increasing my consumer consciousness.

There’s a lot of beautiful creations on Netflix, and a lot of them are by underrepresented groups. Rather than cancel my subscription over one person, I have resolved to support the productions by good talented people, especially queer✨ creations by queer✨ people, or ones that appeal to that sensibility.

So first up, I marathoned Centaurworld. It’s not a queer✨ show per se, but I would say it is very queer✨coded – like a lot. At least when it comes to Zulius the coding is on the nose. Personally I’m shipping Zulius x Ched. Just thought I’d put that out there.

Rather than talk about the plot, characters or themes other than generally, I instead just want to talk about why this show somehow reminded me of classic productions by The Jim Henson Company.

By complete coincidence, I have been rewatching The Muppet Show from the 70s’ on Disney Plus. And I did get to watch that show a few times when I was a kid. So as an adult, I’ve been shocked by how much of the adult humour flew over my head at the time. And Centaurworld certainly has a similar protective veil over its humour for adults to ensure it will pass over younger minds. I’m saying this is something you can watch with your kids. However, all ages can get from the show’s comedy (that The Muppet Show also utilises) zany characters and their interactions.

Once I made this connection, I realised that many of the characters in Centaurworld kind of look like muppets. And I would say many of them also have Muppet sounding names, just with zany turned up a bit more. I just could not stop imagining Wammawink, the show’s heart, puppetised from that point.

Another thing The Muppets have in common with Centaurworld is musicals. Centaurworld more or less sounds like a professional broadway show. And top tier in my opinion (though I’ve only ever seen Billy Elliot and Hamilton at the theatre, and listened to Wicked in the car). The Muppets are not so much that way inclined; in my opinion, their songs are just generally tolerable, with their strength being humour based rather than an emphasis on talent. But now and then, Centaurworld does pull off a Muppetesque sounding song. The one that clicked the most with this idea for me was the gangtaur’s number BOATS!

The more humorous songs, I would say, showcased a bit more talent than the average Muppet song. I Don’t Know Him comes to mind. Incidentally, that was my favourite song from the whole dayum series. Though, unlike the Muppets’ songs, the humour in Centaurworld’s songs tends to require context from the characters and story.

While I was watching Centaurworld, I was suddenly hit with a blast from my childhood past. Somehow, Centaurworld’s story structure reminded me heavily of the 1999 film Elmo’s Adventures in Grouchland. However, after finishing Centaurworld and critically thinking over why Centaurworld dug up my memory of watching this film, it dawned on me that Centaurworld’s structure is the same but also the inverse of Elmo’s movie.

So, for example, Elmo is from a pleasant neighbourhood who gets isekai’d to a garbage world, whereas Horse is from a war destroyed world who gets transported to a peaceful magical world.

They both have to go on a journey to a particular destination to get back home and their respective thing back. However, Elmo is given no other choice but to do his alone with his friends desperately trying to catch up to him, essentially a film for kids with independence as a theme taught through adventure. And Horse, on the other hand, is forced to complete his adventure with company, learning as an adult or adolescent to make friendships.

And part of Elmo’s story is about his best friend Zoe trying to save him, where in the end, they make amends. And while Horse is the protagonist of her story, it’s also about her and Wammawink resolving their conflict with each other and becoming friends too.

Obviously, the measurement of stakes in these properties is entirely different, as Elmo is trying to get his blanket back and Horse his Rider. However, the goal of getting back home is almost universal in these types of stories. Regardless of the stakes, the structure is certainly there.

Now obviously, Rider is meant to look like an anime character. But I also thought she looked like a Gelfling at times. The Dark Crystal is one of The Jim Henson Company’s darker properties, so it makes sense that Rider would come from the darker of the two worlds in this story. In terms of her world, though, it’s nothing like The Dark Crystal, really. It’s a bit more on the grimdark Game Throne’s side of fantasy which the show takes the piss out on, rather than the spiritually environmental approach The Dark Crystal took. But hey, maybe the Centaurworld and human realm will start to converge, and their aesthetics will begin to combine, resembling something like The Dark Crystal.

I know a lot of people will say the Nowhere King looks like a lich. And he does. But you know who else looked like a lich? SkekMal the Hunter.

Many people have compared Centaurworld to a lot of modern-day cartoons, which is honestly totally fair. I can’t say for sure whether or not Jim Henson IPs’ have been influences on Centaurworld; I just personally wanted to write about what this show brought to my mind why that was.

Centaurworld is very much its own beastaur and my just comparing it to other things is a bit reductionist. So if you haven’t watched Centaurworld yet and need convincing to watch it, I would highly recommend checking out Diregentleman’s review of the show and his character analysis of Wammawink. Those are what inspired me to seek out Centaurworld at least.

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Pop-culturalist historian. You can also find me on YouTube as jasonnebulaar where I’ll be uploading hopefully regularly.

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Jason Nordmark

Jason Nordmark

Pop-culturalist historian. You can also find me on YouTube as jasonnebulaar where I’ll be uploading hopefully regularly.

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