“Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared,” more commonly known as “DHMIS,” is described by its creators Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling as a show about three best friends who go on an adventure to find a magical pirate ship. From their description to multiple interviews surrounding the show, “DHMIS” seems like nothing more than a silly and simple series aimed at young audiences.
But as soon as you start watching, it becomes abundantly clear the YouTube series is nothing like Sloan and Pelling described, and it’s no different in the new television adaptation of the same name.
“DHMIS” is a horror/comedy show featuring three puppets who learn something new about the world each episode. The series started all the way back on YouTube on July 29, 2011, with its first episode named “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared.” The video started off as what one would call regular children’s programming featuring a lesson taught in song. Three unnamed characters are taught creativity from a singing notebook.
However, as the show progressed, the song got more and more distorted and the visuals became erratic and disturbing. This disturbing content, of course, blew up overnight on YouTube.
The channel would go on to upload five more episodes following a similar format to the original. Each episode would cover a new topic following a simple formula where our main characters would be taught something by someone, and eventually, it would take a dark turn. Throughout this series, the episodes seemed linked but disconnected at the same time. Easter eggs in each episode threw the community surrounding it into a frenzy cooking up new theories every episode. Fans loved the series because of just how special it was compared to other things being produced. The show had catchy music, comedy, horror and episodes packed with visual Easter eggs in every frame.
Due to the love of this series, fans were over the moon when in September of 2018 it was announced something new was coming from the “DHMIS” duo. A new episode called “Wakey Wakey” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. What fans didn’t know was this would begin a long wait for the promised “DHMIS” television show. After getting picked up at Sundance by Channel 4 and Blink Industries, the show would enter development for four years. Eventually, we come to the present day where on Sept. 22, 2022, six new episodes dropped all at once for all to enjoy.
As a longtime “DHMIS” fan myself, I watched all the episodes the first day they were released. These new episodes adapt the fast-paced formula used on YouTube into a slower episode packed with jokes and horror to keep the “DHMIS” charm. Along with this slower pace, each episode now features multiple songs instead of just one.
The one thing this new series really improves on is the relationship between our trio of unnamed characters. In the original series, the main cast barely had any lines with each other aside from some basic conversation before someone would burst into song. Now, with the 22-minute run time, our three guys have tons of time to interact and talk with each other. These interactions really turn what was a horror/comedy into a comedy/horror. From things like jealousy over death to characters breaking bottles over each other’s heads, the comedy of “DHMIS” is dense and offbeat.
This also changes how the stories of the episodes play out. Instead of the quick and almost nonexistent story of old, now there are payoffs, twists and misdirection. As for the overarching story in these six episodes, Sloan and Pelling have used a very different approach compared to other shows. “DHMIS” has so much room for theorizing that you can make a story whatever you want, which they quite literally want you to do. Symbols and numbers are scattered all through the show, leaving the viewer to connect them and come up with their own interpretation of the story.
This new series improved on the originals of “DHMIS” and stayed true to them at the same time. Without a doubt, it is one of the most interesting and creative things to release this year.