Give me two dozen entries on a list of tabletop RPGs and board games to option as an animated series, and I don’t think I would pick popular party game Exploding Kittens. Someone at Netflix disagrees because The Oatmeal’s card game of naughty cats is coming to the streaming platform in 2024.
Based on a card game of the same name created by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal, Exploding Kittens’ animated series recently debuted during Netflix’s Geeked Week with a short trailer. If you’re familiar with the game, you’ll know that there isn’t much of a narrative premise in the small box. It’s mostly different chunky cats mixed into a deck with a scant few defusing cards and the dreaded Exploding Kittens. If you draw one of those without anything to defuse it, you’re blasted right out of the game.
The Netflix series, which has Inman and Shane Kosakowski as showrunners, keeps those rotund felines and ribald, slightly childish sense of humour that permeates all of The Oatmeal’s creation but takes a drastically different approach with the story. Apparently both God and the Devil from the Christian tradition must fight their long-fated battle whilst trapped in the bodies of two well-fed house cats.
English actor Tom Ellis will voice God (as a cat) against his eternal foe, Satan, who is seemingly voiced by Lucy Liu. There’s also a third main character in the human who adopts the Godcat and tags along on the ensuing shenanigans. The animation fits squarely into the Rick & Morty, Solar Opposites and Koala Man genre of animated television, as does the general plot - hijinks and mayhem barely contained by a plot that feels like a workhorse framework for as much religion humour as possible.
Famed animation filmmaker Mike Judge, creator of Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill, joins Greg Daniels, Dustin Davis, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Elan Lee and Inman as executive producers. Other known cast members include Abraham Lim, Ally Maki, Mark Proksch and Sasheer Zamata. We don’t currently know how many episodes Netflix has ordered or when it will be released beyond a general 2024 estimation.
Exploding Kittens isn’t my first pick for an adaptation, and neither is it the first tabletop IP to garner interest from television and cinema developers. Beloved board game Terraforming Mars and social-deduction classic Werewolf are currently being optioned for a feature-length film, while both John Harper’s steampunk heist RPG Blades in the Dark and collaborative story game Alice is Missing have been pegged for silver screen adaptation.