Arlo the Alligator Boy stole the hearts of many fans and critics alike in his song-filled debut in mid-2021. It only seemed natural to bring that same spirit back when creating I Heart Arlo, the continuation series of the award-winning film centered around finding yourself and playing off the “gator out of the swamp” trope. Its story, while contrived and noticeably formulaic — protagonist finds out he’s adopted, meets friends along the way that help him tackle challenges, finds out their parent isn’t interested in him, and finds himself in the middle of a conflict that changes the heart of their parent — did lead to some heartfelt moments. The songs also helped, but when it comes to I Heart Arlo, it’s more of an undertaking.
Welcome To Seaside By The Seashore
The series follows the direct events after the film with Arlo and co living in Seaside by the Seashore while rebuilding it to officially make the seaside community inhabitable and even alluring for New York folks to move in. To do this, not only have the group found positions to make their livelihood within the community more positive, like Tony giving up the crime biz in favor of the pizza business or Furlecia opening up her own salon, but also remodeling everything.
In this 19-episode romp of mostly 15 minute episodes with the exception of its finale, fans get to see the build up to the ”uncondemning” of the neighborhood, filled with little slice of life episodes and some genuinely heartwarming moments. Songs are also a big part of the series, with many episodes having at least a mini-song sung by any one of the myriad of returning characters from the film.
You Will Heart Arlo
Per Netflix norms, the show does capture a good portion of what Arlo’s continuation should be, fans get to witness the relationship between everyone’s favorite gator boy and his father flourish as well as getting to know the friends even further that he met during his trip to find Ansel. The show really shines more of a light on the side protagonists in an almost equal way, if any character’s the focal point of more than one episode in a row, it tends to be Arlo himself.
Each episode is its own thing, which helps break up the pace while retaining some level of momentum that keeps the show moving forward in a natural way. While by the end of it, an overarching story is established, at the start, it was a show that relied heavily on small daily challenges ramped up to 11. Some of the conflicts stem from character traits like Alia’s easily distractible nature, Arlo’s overly sociable demeanor, Furlecia’s insistence to put her customers ahead of her own well-being, and Ansel’s desire to become the father that Arlo’s missed for so long while also retaining a rich person’s lifestyle.
The show’s overarching plot only really starts in the middle of the show and is only heavily implied in one scene early on. This plot point is the Bog Lady, a swamp goddess who couldn’t stand that Arlo left the swamp, so she makes it her goal to bring him back home and keep him there forever, making her the real antagonist behind the show.
An Optional Continuation
I Heart Arlo is a show that is an optional continuation of the movie. While it certainly exists and isn’t a terrible show, it didn’t have to be made for the film to feel complete. At the very least, the show does end the season with a nifty tied-up bow that doesn’t — at all — need to be expanded on without feeling like it will drag the show through the proverbial swamp.
I Heart Arlo is available on Netflix right now.