No.128259141 ViewReplyOriginalReport
Smiling Friends has got to be the most perfect example of "mean-spirited" humor done right in a while. To be more specific, look no further than the pilot as that is the best example of what I'm talking about.

On one hand, Desmond's depression is portrayed completely seriously and sympathetically. They could have easily depicted him as a loser, had him break down crying numerous times and expect us to laugh, or even have him go through with killing himself in some over-the-top gory and undignified way. The main characters also don't take that obnoxious callousness towards human life that most adult cartoon protagonists do. While Charlie does come off as apathetic, it's more in the vein of realizing that curing someone's depression is out of his league rather than apathy as he still makes the effort to help out and is ultimately the one who gives Desmond a newfound purpose.

On the other hand, Desmond's suicidal tendencies are still used for jokes that are both hilarious and tasteful. He's a straight man rather than a punching bag as you can see in the family dinner scene. Him pointing the gun to his head throughout the entire episode is perfectly utilized comedic exaggeration rather than realistic suffering. The audience simultaneously laughs with him rather than at him and then feels guilty afterwards because he's such a sweet and likeable character.

Family Guy, American Dad, and even childrens cartoons like Spongebob and TTG could learn a thing or two from Smiling Friends. There's no joke in watching a character get genuinely upset at being verbally abused or seeing the setting contort itself just to manufacture a character's suffering even if it doesn't make sense or adds anything to the plot and I think everyone agrees with that but just pretends not to because they're bored and they enjoy shitposting.