Feature Article

What It's Like Playing Strong Female Characters In Adult Swim's Latest Bizarre Animated Series

Even weirder than Rick and Morty

Adult Swim is known for their distinctive, offbeat humor and alternative programming, making their latest bizarre animated series, Hot Streets, a seemingly good fit among the likes of Rick and Morty and Robot Chicken. Creator Brian Wysol worked on both shows, and Hot Streets is also produced by Seth Green, Matt Senreich (Robot Chicken), and Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty), who also voices a dog in the new series.

Hot Streets focuses on the supernatural investigations of FBI Agent Mark Branski, who solves cases with help from his partner, his niece, and her cowardly talking dog. They’ve encountered the likes of brain monsters, mummies, and a snake cult, with each new episode becoming stranger than the one before it. The latest episode had Branksi stuck in a loop where he keeps waking up inside of an egg.

Hot Streets is Branski’s show, but the supporting characters are the series’ strongest assets. Chubbie Webbers, the worrisome dog, is a stand out, thanks to Justin Roiland’s hilarious voice work. He gets mixed up in solving Branski’s Hot Streets cases along with his owner, Jen, played by actress Chelsea Kane (Baby Daddy, Rick and Morty). Like Penny and Brain in Inspector Gadget before them, Jen and Chubbie Webbers are the unsung heroes who often solve the cases without getting the credit.

Notably, Hot Streets features two strong female characters. In addition to Jen, there’s Soo Park, Assistant Director of the FBI, played by Agents of SHIELD star Ming-Na Wen. We talked with the voices behind both characters about what attracted them to their strangest project yet.

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GameSpot: How did you get involved with Hot Streets?

Ming-Na Wen (Soo Park): It’s one of those things where you’re friends with Seth (Green) and Matt (Senreich), they say come on in, we’ve got this cool project, and I read it--I really didn’t understand it, and I was like “Perfect! Let me do it.” I love a good challenge.

Chelsea Kane (Jen Sanders): It kind of fell into my lap in such an interesting way. I had worked with Justin Roiland years ago on our Disney Channel show, Fish Hooks, and throughout that whole time he was working on Rick and Morty.

I ended up getting an audition to do a voice on Rick and Morty...for Arthricia. And I really wanted to do it, and it was the first time I ever got to drop an F bomb in my acting career. And I got the part.

And then through that, Brian Wysol had actually seen an animatic of the Purge episode and Brian was in the process of putting together his cast for Hot Streets, and said, "Oh my god, that's the voice I would want for Jen."

What attracted you to the project?

Ming-Na Wen: It’s working with friends and meeting new people, the same kind of folks that share your madness or strange creativity and I knew I was going to have a great time.

Chelsea Kane: What really attracted me to Hot Streets is that Jen is kind of the only recurring female role that's really grounded. And I love that she's intelligent and smart and ends up solving most of these Hot Street cases even though she may not get the credit all the time. But at the same time, she's still very much flawed like me. Her dating life isn't really her strong point at this point in her life, which I can totally relate to. So, I love that she's kind of a real girl and a real strong leading female voice on the show. That makes me feel excited to be a part of it and kind of lending that tone to the show.

Tell us more about your characters.

Ming-Na Wen: [Soo Park] is no nonsense, and very to the point. As smart as she is, she’s also a bit oblivious of, I think, certain realities. And she has this vulnerable side I think the guys kind of bring out in her every so often. She just kind of calls the shots.

At first I was a little concerned, like, is this going to be stereotypical? Are they going to want me to do an accent? And they were like “No, no!” and I’m like “Oh, perfect, good. Thank you.”

Chelsea Kane: You've seen the first episode that [Jen] lost her mother, and that's why she's living with her uncle. She's at this kind of crossroads in her young adult life, which I think where we've all been, where she's just kind of trying to figure out who she is, and who she loves, and who loves her. She already takes off and kind of elopes with a mummy in the first episode, so you know she's still kind of figuring things out.

I love that she's super smart and I love that she's able to kind of hold her own with the boys whether it's going on missions, or solving the crime. She really knows what she's doing, and she's a tough cookie, and I love playing those type of girls. That's the type of girl I hope to be like.

How much input did you have on crafting the character?

Ming-Na Wen: The writers, Brian and them, they already have a clear idea about what they’re going for. And so they’re really crucial in the initial phase of creating an animated character and understanding her level of emotions, where she’s at, and where the humor would be based on it. And not working with other actors, you’re flying solo. It’s great to have their input in the beginning.

Chelsea Kane: I think it kind of slowly develops, but I love Brian's work and Brian's brain, and I don't tend to really go into the booth and ad-lib a bunch of stuff. I love what's on the page and most of the time I'm also confused by what's on the page just story wise. I'm like, "I feel like I have to say these words because I'm not quite sure what a flesh potato is, so I'm just going with it." But I think as the show went on we all kind of realized that Jen can oftentimes be like a throughline in the story to kind of pull you into the next scene, or ground some of the scenes.

Ming-Na, how does your experience working on Hot Streets compare to doing past voice over work?

Ming-Na Wen: It’s very similar to my process with all the other animations, except a lot of times I’ll be like “Why is she saying this, I don’t understand what this means.” And they’re like “Just go with it! Don’t worry about it, it’s good, it’s good. You’re doing great.” I’m like, “OK! Is it funny? Is it funny?” And they’re like “Yes. Very funny.” I’m like “OK.” I trust.

Chelsea, what makes Hot Streets stand out among other Adult Swim shows?

Chelsea Kane: I think the animation itself is ...it's a different style. You kind of have to get used to it in a way, I mean, even the opening credits. I just feel like it has a very specific look to it. And on top of that, I love the music. It's that cool kind of like '80s electro vibe. I love the opening sequence music, and Brian Wysol, our creator, does all of the music as well. So whenever he's finished recording with us in the booth he's off to the studio to record all the music for the show. So, I think it just adds that extra element to it that makes it really cool.

What would you like to see happen in future episodes of Hot Streets?

Chelsea Kane: So Brian does all the music. I think we should totally do a musical episode. I think it would be hilarious, and I just want to see Justin (Roiland) sing a whole show in the dog voice.

Hot Streets airs Sundays at midnight on Adult Swim.

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Chastity Vicencio

Senior Producer, Custom Content and Entertainment at GameSpot. Pop culture maven and karaoke MVP.
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