Sometimes, the Internet takes you to some interesting places. It was a Tumblr post that brought my attention to an amateur animated show on YouTube called No Evil. It’s a show about a group of anthropomorphic animal spirits that live just outside the rival villages of Hatfield and McCoy. The show is also steeped in American folklore, tradition, and mythology. It incorporates it into the characters and plot– almost everything can be traced back to these stories.
The closest comparisons that I can make to how this works is to the shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time, aired on NBC and ABC respectively. Grimm and Once Upon a Time rely on the audience knowing the fairy tales and Disney films that they’re based on so that the writers can get to the police procedural/MMO crossover story that they actually want to write. No Evil does something different– it doesn’t assume that you know the characters and stories, but it doesn’t (necessarily) spell it all out either. Instead, it introduces characters and story elements that support the main plot, and makes that the compelling force behind the show. The only exception to that I can think of is a retelling of the story of Mahtigwess and Lusifee which reveals some backstory for those characters.
The main difference is the source material, and actually using the main characters of the folktales as the main characters of the show. Perhaps because of this, No Evil seems to have a bit more focus than the other shows, especially once the plot starts. Structuring the show like that might also be a product of a general audience’s unfamiliarity with the stories.