Gary doing his very best homage to Sailor Moon.
Image: VRV

Into every generation in the world of VRV’s Gary and His Demons, a demon slayer is born who—well, is responsible for ridding the world of its demons. But as much fun as being a chosen slayer might sound, Gary rightfully hates his calling.

Gary and His Demons is an animated show that’s equal parts Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Office, if the latter only ever focused on an aging Jim Halpern struggling to deal with the fact that he’s an aging demon fighter who’s disillusioned with his place in the world. After a lifetime of saving humanity, all Gary’s got to show for it is a receding hairline, an epic transformation sequence, and a justified disdain for his fellow mortal meatbags.

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The thing that makes Gary and His Demons shine where similar shows tend not to is its level-headed depiction of what middle-aged depression looks like. Gary’s an alcoholic misanthrope who keenly understands that his tenure as the chosen one is soon to be over—and when he’s being honest with himself, the prospect of being decommissioned absolutely terrifies him. Though he hates to admit it to anyone.

There’s an aimlessness to Gary’s life that makes the show feel like an impressively sharp critique of its central conceit—and all of the other versions of the story we’ve seen in the past. Being chosen, one imagines, would give your life a purpose, but what really haunts Gary is the fact that after years of keeping the world safe, he doesn’t really have all that much in his personal life to show for it.

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Gary is single, bad at socializing, and not all that likable, and it’s all compounded by the fact that he’s given himself over to a greater good that most people will never be able to understand. When he eventually meets the next generation of slayers who are destined to pick up his ever-increasing amount of slack, he’s forced to reckon with the reality that he’s never quite managed to get his shit together. But at the same time, Gary’s meeting his successors acts as a none-too-subtle reminder that there was a point in his life when he, too, was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and full of promise about his future.

As much as Gary and His Demons is a show about self-owns, it’s also a somber reflection of just what it means to go through life unappreciated. It’s never explicitly made clear where Gary’s personal demons come from, but the implication is that his misanthropy and arrested development are natural outgrowths of being chosen and that it’s a fate that befalls all of his kind.

Gary and His Demons can be depressing, but there is a bit of hope shot through the series that makes its overwhelming darkness bearable. Scumbag that he is, Gary is trying to become a better person at the end of the day, something he verbalizes whenever he triggers his powers and goes through a decidedly Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequence.

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This hopeless mess never stops trying because he does want to be happy, and while he might not really understand it about himself, that’s what makes him a relatable hero. He’s got the same struggles as the rest of us.

Gary and His Demons is streaming now on VRV.

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