Too Many Cooks vs. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: Decoding the Disturbing – Wisecrack Edition

Too Many Cooks vs. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: Decoding the Disturbing – Wisecrack Edition


Hey Wisecrack, disembodied Jared again, here
to ask you a question: why are a repetitive sitcom intro and an ode to British children’s
television two of the most disturbing things on YouTube? Besides the obvious, is there a reason that
this; or this; is more unsettling than say, a dude who murders you in your dreams? Instead of cheap jumpscares, Too Many Cooks
and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared induce a kind of existential horror, but to different ends. So, if you’ve ever pondered the eternal
question of whether you’d rather be stuck in a song that never ends or acid-induced
muppet nightmare, then this is the video for you. Welcome to this Wisecrack Edition on Too Many
Cooks vs Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared. And I guess spoilers ahead… For those of you who don’t know – here’s
a quick recap. Too Many Cooks begins like the opening credits
of most 80s sitcoms, like Full House, Different Strokes or My Two Dads, and then just… keeps…
going. As the jingle repeats, the opening credits
mutate and begin to resemble things ranging from GI Joe to Battlestar Galactica. And it keeps going. And going. And going. And then a serial killer shows up and… look
if you haven’t seen it, go watch it. It’s so good. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, is a 6-episode
web series that resembles British children’s television shows like the Teletubbies. Buuuut each episode quickly descends into
terrifying psychological torture, complete with cultist bees, disembowelment, and uncomfortable
amounts of raw meat. Although they don’t seem terribly similar,
both utilize a special nightmare sauce that really gets under our skin: That sauce? f**king with nostalgia. In Too Many Cooks, the aesthetic of the comforting
TV families of the 80s and 90s are quite literally murdered. While in Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, our
childhood mentors are inverted into Orwellian despots. But what makes this worse, than say, watching
Nightmare on Elm Street? Y’see, nostalgia offers three psychological
benefits: it acts as a repository for positive feelings, a contributor to self-esteem, and
as a method of social connectivity. Because who hasn’t read all 52 ways you
know you’re a 90s kid? Since nostalgia makes us feel so good, disrupting
it can really mess with your head. According to one school of thought called
Terror Management Theory, nostalgia can be a handy way to combat the terror of our mortal
existence. No longer able to take comfort in God or an
afterlife, our secular age has put more emphasis on other kinds of immortality: like having
kids, making your mark on the world, having a national identity, or having your dick cast
in plaster. This is where nostalgia comes in. A 2006 study found that nostalgia helps to
provide meaning in our lives by allowing us to relive idealized memories of our past in
order to feel better about the future. But unlike some media that shamelessly parrots
nostalgia to give us the warm and fuzzies, Too Many Cooks and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
use nostalgic references to draw us in and then give us a good ol’ fashioned mindf**k. Rather than dressing up like Ghostbusters,
Too Many Cooks and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared over-identify with these references to the
point of horrific absurdity. They use the sappy intro music, dated retro
graphics, and simple puppets with bright colors to pull you in to a nostalgic state, and then
undermine it. So, when everything goes to hell they’re
literally ruining your childhood. And not like ‘The Last Jedi’ did. The nostalgic feel-good memories that pacify
you on your meaningless trudge toward death are now being murdered, both metaphorically
and literally. But while both of these properties utilize
this subversion of nostalgia, it’s how and why they subvert it that sets them apart. To understand what sets Too Many Cooks Apart
from Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, we need to look at the early 20th century theater
practitioner Bertolt Brecht. Brecht rejected realism in theater, arguing
that because film was so much better at it, why even bother? Theater doesn’t have the endless takes,
multiple locations, camera angles, and perfectly mixed audio that puts you in the moment the
way cinema does. Theater requires a lot of suspension of disbelief
and audience imagination. So, Brecht developed what he called “epic
theater”. Epic Theater sought to disrupt the audience-performer
relationship. Where traditional drama expected an audience
to be sad when the protagonist is sad, frightened when he or she is frightened, and so on, Brecht
wanted an audience to view the performance more critically and dispassionately. To do that, he used a technique called ‘Distantiation’
or ‘the Alienation Effect’. For instance, he would show the workings of
the performance on stage to reveal its falseness. In his play ‘Mother Courage and Her Children,’
costume changes happen on stage, props and scenery are brought on and off during dialogue
and placards are held up to explain the action; all so the audiences can’t escape the awareness
that they were watching a play, and thus are able to judge the characters more critically. Ol’ Bertie basically patented our culture’s
favorite thing: breaking the fourth wall. Like Brecht, Too Many Cooks draws our attention
to its own falseness. Characters run between sets, they’re stalked
by their chyrons, the audio and video are disrupted, and whatever this is. Another characteristic Too Many Cooks shares
with Brecht is repetition. In almost every Brecht play there is form
of repeated dance movement, gesture or phrase, even in the music. Consider “The Alabama Song,” which you
might recognize as an awesome song by The Doors. Well, Brecht wrote it. The lyrics, rhythm, and instrumentation are
highly repetitive, and the harmony uses a lot dissonance to achieve the general feeling
of creepiness this song bestows upon the listener. And if you, too, are creeped out by this song,
then congrats — Brecht’s alienation effect worked. The more you repeat something, the more likely
you are to look at, or listen to, it critically, seeing it a different way. Like, have you ever repeated a word until
it sounds like gibberish? Just like saying “pigeon,” “pigeon,”
“pigeon,” pigeon” for a minute straight will make the word “pigeon” sound extremely
weird, hearing the phrase Too Many Cooks, over and over throughout a 11 minute video
will remove any and all meaning the phrase “Too Many Cooks” ever had. But where Brecht would often use this distancing
effect to explain an injustice or challenge a prejudice, Too Many Cooks has a much more
nihilistic view of the whole thing. Every component of popular entertainment is
distanced and robbed of meaning. For instance, the repetitiveness of the phrase
“Too Many Cooks spoils the Broth” seems to parallel the repetition of other Sitcom
catchphases like — “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” “Ayyyyy.” “Did I do that?” Even as more and more unsettling elements
are introduced, the repetition renders it all meaningless, and uses this opportunity
to show how interchangeable it all is. As our characters get murdered, our greasy
serial killer begins to inhabit the generic and interchangeable tropes and aesthetics
of television. By deconstructing these old shows in this
graphic way, Too Many Cooks upends any attempt at Terror Management through our nostalgic
love of He-Man, Married With Children or Buck Rogers by revealing them to be empty, easily-replicated
junk, all for a joke — and a great one at that. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared uses a lot of
these same techniques of Distantiation too, like breaking the fourth wall by rotating
a digital image of their set and repeating camera moves and dialogue over and over — “I
wonder what will happen.” “I wonder what will happen.” — but Don’t Hug Me has more in common
with a different type of pop culture deconstruction. Whereas Too Many Cooks is deconstruction for
its own sake, Don’t Hug Me subverts nostalgia to not only to criticize children’s television,
but to offer a way forward. But how exactly? Well, first we need to talk about something
that sounds really boring — the British Television act of 1954 — which allowed commercial
television networks to compete with the publically-owned BBC. Following the television act, a new commercial
channel, Independent Television, was created in 1955, a fact not lost on Don’t Hug Me
I’m Scared. In the eerie fundraising campaign trailers,
a violent bear-monster demands money from the audience — “Money! Money! Money!” — using a ransom video conspicuously
time stamped as 1955. With this in mind, the reason for deconstructing
children’s television becomes a bit clearer. Subtle clues take jabs at the very idea of
children’s television for profit, or even profit in general. Throughout its six episodes, the three main
characters, Red Guy, Duck, and Yellow Guy, are terrorized by different guest ‘teachers’,
like a notebook that explains creativity — “What’s your favorite idea? Mine is being creative!” — a clock that
explains time — “Time is a tool you can put on the wall, or wear it on your wrist. The past is far behind us. The future doesn’t exist!” — and a bee
that explains love… for some reason — “Together, we can understand about love…” On the surface, this seems like any episode
of Barney – or whatever kids watch these days – but as the fourth wall starts to dissolve,
everything gets weird, murderous, trippy, and even profound. One could argue that this batsh*t insanity in the unexpected
guise of a kids show is meant to expose the authoritarian and consumerist messages, using a method known
as Culture Jamming. Culture Jamming is a tactic used by anti-consumerist
groups to subvert the dominant narrative and iconography of our era: mainstream media,
advertisement, and so on. This means revealing the message that is “really
behind” popular media and advertising, and injecting their own meaning to serve their
agenda . Think of the Coke billboard that says ‘Love’ but someone sprayed ‘Profit’
underneath it, or a McDonald’s billboard modified to read “I’m Loving Diabetes”,
or anything Banksy’s ever done, or Vermin Supreme, a man who wears a boot on his head
and wants to mandate brushing your teeth by law – all to mock our political process. “This election year, vote early. Vote often. And remember, a vote for me, Vermin Supreme,
is a vote completely thrown away.” This method of deconstructing a well-known
institution, like children’s television, by ‘jamming’ it with another, more graphic,
image highlights the disparity between wholesome, edutainment for kids and the excesses of profit-driven
media that the Television Act introduced. Throughout the series, the ‘teachers’
in every episode explain what something is or means but start to suggest ‘better’
ways of doing things — “I don’t see what you mean.” “‘Cause you’re not thinking creatively!”
— correct the main characters — “It’s easy to be a clever, smart boy like me, if
you just do it all digitally!” — and punish them if they do or say what the teachers see
as the wrong thing. Wanna be creative? Don’t use green, that’s not a creative
color. Wanna eat fancy foods? Sorry, they’ll clog up your body. “The bad, not healthy foods are very rude,
and must leave through the cat flap.” While these choices, of excluding green, or
choosing a computer over a globe to learn, may seem inane and meaningless at first, they
slowly begin to reveal what is at stake. The saccharine notion of a child’s TV mentor
is “jammed” to reveal the dangers of letting media teach your child in the harsh realities
of the commercial age, and the touch of authoritarianism that is inherent to it all. Attempts to question their teachers are always
shut down. “That doesn’t make sense!” “Uh duh, duh, duh, duh!” “I mean, time’s just a construct of human
perception, an illusion created by —“ “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah!!” Furthermore, the danger of empty platitudes
about love devolve into a cult. “His name is Malcolm.” “Our king!” “He the king of love!” Optimism about technology is juxtaposed with
some Clockwork Orange sh*t. In the same episode, what you can “do”
with a computer seems to be dancing, graphs, and more importantly, style – as in, you know,
buying clothes. “Hey, this is fun!” “Wow, look a line graph!” “Digital style!” “Do a digital dance… Hey, this is fun!” The last few episodes even seems to drop hints
that this is all a plan to sell oats to kids. Our computer teacher asks the puppets a series
of questions like it’s for a focus group and, on the question of “what do you like
to eat,” our beloved computer shows us another picture of oats. In the next episode, our teacher tells us
the merits of “plain foods” and more oats are seen next to the healthy juice. This gives Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared a much
more moral message than Too Many Cooks. While Too Many Cooks literally self-destructs,
the message of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared hints as alternate methods of childhood education. Try managing your terror with that. Just like almost everything else in pop culture
right now, Too Many Cooks and Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared recognize how we use nostalgia
as a safety blanket and then soak that blanket in blood and rip a few holes in it. But while Too Many Cooks says that’s because
this kind of nostalgia is a lie and ultimately useless, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared ruins
our childhood because it loves us. It wants you to challenge the lessons you’ve
learned instead of blindly obeying that comforting kids show voice. So, do me a favor, don’t listen to the smooth voice of video hosts, and think for yourself, alright? Peace.

100 thoughts on “Too Many Cooks vs. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: Decoding the Disturbing – Wisecrack Edition”

  1. This episode was written by Leo COOKman. We, too, have Too Many Cooks! Join WisecrackPLUS to download the script, join our Discord server, and get exclusive access to our research and team at http://wscrk.com/WisecrackPlus

  2. The other thing Too Many Cooks does is reverse the fantasy of a show by making it emulate the "reality" (fear-mongering) your parents were shoving down your throat while growing up. When growing up, you have the nostalgia of watching wholesome shows with good clean fun. Meanwhile, your parents wanted you home by a certain time, and to know where you were at all hours of the day, because they'd tell you weirdos were out in the world kidnapping kids and murdering people. So, Too Many Cooks takes that fear-mongering that parents do to kids and has it invade the wholesome fantasy land that shows provided. But, if you think about it.. both are extremes. The extreme wholesome fantasy land on TV vs the extreme horror fantasy your parents painted about reality. Real life falls some where in between those extremes, but Too Many Cooks decides to shift the pendulum from one direction (wholesome) to the exact opposite (horrifying) as if to say "see, everything yuor parents were worried about is true."

  3. Too Many Cooks isn't actually taking a dump on nostalgia. It's talking about the dangers of producers in the creative process of making network television.
    The murderer who kills off the characters is the producer. It's why the killer is in the background for most of the video and then takes a front and center position towards the end when the show disintegrates into nonsense until the cat (the creator) who is the only character who fights the murderer, pushes the reset button (signifying the final blowout between the writer and the producer). That’s why the last scene where the cast picture is taken ends up having the murderer in the end result. The producer always gets the last laugh.
    Too Many Cooks abstractly explains that most of network television is regurgitated garbage and the original content of writers/creators is warped by producers. That's why characters are added, killed off, and the themes of the shows are twisted and changed despite the cat fighting back.
    The analysis that Too Many Cooks isn't portraying a larger picture than what is stated in this video is lazy and disgraceful. I expected much more from Wisecrack.

  4. It's nice to be able to feel how you're right, I don't feel scared or even anxious watching too many cooks, I focused more on the comedy, because I don't watch sitcoms really, never have. But, don't hug me I'm scared disturbs the shit outta me

  5. ok how can these two things be scaryier than SALAD FINGERS!?!??! too any people how to dont know what salad fingers is i recommend it its a scary thing about a dude who likes rusty spoons but in 5 or 7 minnutes it scares you with jumpscares out of no where , where you least saw them happing its ol so a little brutal and has alot of gross imedry so people who see tish comments would you rather be in a song that never ends , be in a scary muppet choas or be in the middle of no where with a tall man? comment down below

  6. Lmao when I saw too many cooks I thought it was a commercial for an upcoming show, and I'm like why doesn't it end? Or is this a real show? But then why is it not starting? Very entertaining.

  7. So Damage by Despair.
    Thats half my answer, the other i need is how to reverse this against itself.
    There lies the glory of the hunt

  8. I think an important thing that isn’t mentioned here about Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is that the creators refuse to explain anything about the series. Every question asked or theory suggested is answered with a simple, chilling answer: “yes”. Which means that all of this disturbing stuff is either meaningless or the meaning is so deeply hidden beneath references and Easter eggs and winks and nods that any effort to find the true meaning of DHIS will be far too much for any answer to be satisfying for the seeker.

    Maybe it’s a rebuke against Quaker ideology? Maybe it’s a portrayal of the Absurd as Camus explained it? Maybe it’s a portrayal in the futility of trying to define a complex world through terms a child could explain and how that ultimately is harming us than helping us. All of these theories are correct according to the creators, and that is so much more terrifying than any answer they could ever give.

  9. I felt that Too Many Cooks was too funny and cheesy to be scary or unsettling. DHMIS legitimately plays on contrast to invoke a sense of unease, but Too Many Cooks has such good comedic timing that it's hard to take seriously or seem disturbing.

  10. I want everybody to know that Bertolt Brecht was a massive fraud. Most of his work was stolen from his Collective.
    Also the "Alienation effect" is more properly known as the Verfremdungseffekt

  11. youre just like nostalgia chick. Autistic analysis. ITs about a dude stuck in a endless loop of sitcoms and wants end the cycle by killing everyone only to become part of those sitcoms for all eternity. Fuck all that other shit you fucking nerd…..NEEEEEERRRRD

  12. 🎒💭🦊⚖️🦋

    We are all God and we should be fucking ashamed ..well y'all are god, I just work here

  13. So based on what you're saying here (that the source of horror for TMC and DHMIS is nostalgia), how would these videos affect someone who didn't have the experiences necessary to be nostalgic about? (E.g., a Gen Z kid who didn't grow up with 80s sitcoms)

    To me it's not the removal of terror mangement via nostalgia that makes these videos creepy, it's just the eeriness of inverting something we associate as being happy and harmless with vaguely threatening and/or disturbing imagery… It's unsettling. It's like a video version of the game Eversion.

    Appreciate the knowledge you dropped in this one anyway, even if I disagree.

  14. Ok but I find Don't Hug Me I'm Scared super uneasy and horrifying and I never watched any kids shows with felt or otherwise live-action puppets. I also never watched old sitcoms. So I don't think we can say nostalgia is the main ingredient. I think contrast is the key – contrast between something innocuous, like cute puppets or a family comedy, and incredibly creepy dialogue and graphic imagery.

  15. The irony of how the philosophy of 'dont touch me I'm scared' is followed by a lesson, then an ad that paid for the whole thing is probably the best part of this whole thing.

  16. Anyone seen Look Around You? It did a similar thing, where familiar things from one's childhood were made strange and uncanny. Series 1 is a frighteningly accurate pastiche of British education for schools videos of the '80s, and series 2 is a looser parody of the programme Tomorrow's World which ran from the '60s to the '90s.

  17. It's ironic to push a hair treatment by forcing a beauty standard ("Here's what I would look like bald") right after praising DHMIS for it's message about questioning media

  18. 2:53 Is…is that a thing?

    I would think too many people would have self-esteem issues about size to want something like that as a permanent reminder to…what? Mount on your wall?

  19. The comments on nostalgia really help explain why people act so personally offended that I like reboots better than the originals of things like She-Ra, My Little Pony, or Ducktales.

  20. It was obvious to me that over-intellectualising this was a bad idea, we're not going to learn anything and it's gonna be boring as fuck like most "analyse exercices" (if it make sense in english lol) on u tube …. But i guess i'm not a murican and i actually received a good (free) education (cinematic narration technics included) and i also read books so….. Does this makes me less easily impressed by pseudo intellectualism ? YES. No hate guys but come on, you know what i mean….

  21. Your "breakdown" of DHMIS was too Film-Theory MatPatty for me to believe. I'm sorry, but DHMIS is about Red Guy not wanting to grow up, trying to be a kid forever, and the consequences of making your own "Neverland" so you can avoid facing the reality of being an adult. The creators of DHMIS have even made a trailer called "Wakey Wakey"for their new DHMIS show and partnered up wIth Cartoon Network (of all channels) to give it a platform. Not to mention, they know the creators of The Amazing World of Gumball also threw in some DHMIS-inspired animation for one of their episodes. MatPat got it all wrong and oh boy, so did you Wisecrack.

  22. The theory of DHMIS is correct but it's also focused, in my opinion, about growing up and moving on from the nostalgia.

  23. Lollll these two can’t even begin to be compared. Dhmis is just something so much more powerful than the gag of too many cooks.

  24. What if

    Someone got nostalgia from this type of content how would someone go about scaring them in that soak the blanket with blood way

  25. Does that mean people who don't even know these types of kids shoes exist will be unfazed by DHMIS?

  26. DHMIS scared the shit out of me when I first watched it but now it’s one of my favorite webseries of all time

  27. This is a far better deconstruction of DHMIS than game theory did. Its pretty obvious that DHMIS doesn't actually have a coherent story

  28. Although I agree with most of this, I don’t think nostalgia is a leading factor as I watched both videos and absolutely loved them and the extremely unsettling feeling they provided, yet I’m not a 90s kid and had/have a lack of nostalgia when it comes to sitcoms and puppets.

  29. Too many 80's shows to where the networks, represented by the serial killer, had to kill off the shows in order for new sources to come aboard

  30. The problem in my mind is, I find I have too much of the alienation effect in my mind when it comes to media, even when its trying to be serious.

  31. It is nice to see that you learned something when you start to critically analyze the merchandise in the end of the video.

  32. "- a bee, for some reason" birds and the bees man. The talk. Come one that's surface level. Wisecrack? More like Wise Crap. Haha.

    Loved the video 10/10

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