Common ground between a dinosaur tale and a modern love story? You bet

Meadow and Jabari embrace in the animated "Entergalactic."
Netflix’s 92-minute “Entergalactic” follows Jabari, a street artist-turned-comic book professional, his love interest and their artistic circle of friends.
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Two of this year’s nominees in the animated program race are not your typical lovable family-themed contenders. Netflix’s 92-minute special “Entergalactic” tells the story of an urban love affair set against the backdrop of New York’s trendy streetwear “hypebeast” culture, while “Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal” on Adult Swim charts the friendship between a Neanderthal man and a Tryannosaurus rex in an anachronistic prehistoric world. They share a bold style and vision unique to each.


The brainchild of hip-hop artist Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris and Ian Edelman, “Entergalactic” is directed by Fletcher Moules, a music-video veteran who is also co-executive producer on the Netflix series “Agent Elvis.” The project follows Jabari, a street artist-turned-comic book professional (voiced by Mescudi), his love interest (voiced by Jessica Williams) and their artistic circle of friends. The voice cast also includes Timothée Chalamet, Ty Dolla Sign, Keith David and Vanessa Hudgens.

“The project started when Kid Cudi, Kenya Barris and Mike Moon (who was head of adult animation at Netflix at the time) decided to use animation to accompany Cudi’s latest concept album,” recalls Moules. “It was so unique to have the music upfront. We were talking about certain scenes while we were playing the songs, and we could instantly visualize the emotions.”

A couple stroll on a lantern-lit New York street in the animated "Entergalactic."
Jabari and Carmen stroll the streets of New York City.

The animation, which was produced by Netflix, DNEG and Titmouse, took three years to complete by a team of about 330 people spread across 18 countries. “We were pretty specific on the art style of the show, because we wanted to make something that felt like a moving painting and captured the emotional vulnerability of our main characters,” notes the director. “I wanted the imperfections to be reflected in this graphic, painterly technique we used.

The director says he and his team have been thrilled by the positive audience response. “We knew when we were making this show through the early days of COVID that everyone would relate to this modern love story,” he says. “Western animation doesn’t really do rom-coms, and you don’t see a Black love story represented like this very often. In addition, our depiction of the city was grounded in realism, which enabled us to express that world in a very graphic style and make people feel like they were floating in a warm bath of color.”

Two T. rexes square off over the fallen human before them in the animated "Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal."
Fang defends the fallen Spear from her new friend and fellow T. rex, Red, in “Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal.”
(Warner Bros. Discovery)

‘Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal’

“Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal” also incorporates a bold and graphic animation style to explore its unusual subject matter. The acclaimed 2-D-animated series, which has won five Emmys to date, is nominated this year for an episode titled “Shadow of Fate” from its second season. In the powerful episode, our Neanderthal hero (Spear) and his dinosaur friend (Fang) find themselves separated and forming new bonds with their own kind.

“We felt that we had come up with a really interesting love triangle of sorts that was quite complicated to do because there is no dialogue involved,” says Tartakovsky, an animation icon who is best known for creating shows such as “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Samurai Jack,” “Star Wars: Clone Wars” and “Unicorn: Warriors Eternal,” and directing the first three “Hotel Transylvania” movies. “We needed to create a relationship between two animals. We’ve seen animals exhibit love, and we wanted to show that bond realistically. Then we also had to bring Spear into that dynamic as well.”

The director points out that the episode highlights man’s relationship with the beasts around him. “Fang is protecting Spear, but she still has feelings for the other dinosaur [Red], so it was exciting to pull that dynamic off,” he says. “In addition to all the action, we also had to create our most heightened emotional episode.”

Two dinosaurs peacefully feed beneath a tree in the animated "Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal."
Separated from her human, Spear, Fang bonds with Red, a T. rex like her.
(Warner Bros. Discovery)

The original idea for the series came to Tartakovsky many years ago. “It all started with this image of a little kid on a dinosaur, but that never went anywhere,” he recalls. “After we finished ‘Samurai Jack’ for Adult Swim, everyone seemed to love all the dialogue-free scenes, so I started to think about doing a show just made up of visual sequences. We aged the concept up, and the pieces just started to come together.”

Tartakovsky was initially surprised when the show, which features animation produced by Paris-based Studio La Cachette, began to develop such a wide following. “We have animation lovers and action lovers, as well as dinosaur and fantasy fans, so it became a bigger show than we anticipated,” he notes. “Our biggest challenge is that we have to produce a lot of drawings to tell the story because everything is visual.”