Despite how much time I spend banging pots and pans about animation not being just for children, I love what animated storytelling can do for children, particularly when it comes to genre storytelling. Science fiction media can offer a lot for all ages, and in the case of My Dad The Bounty Hunter, that’s an adventure and great family exploration.
From Everett Downing Jr. and Patrick Harpin, My Dad the Bounty Hunter is an animated action-comedy series following close-knit siblings Lisa (Priah Ferguson) and Sean (JeCobi Swain), who stow away on their dad’s latest work trip, hoping to finally get some quality time together—only he’s an intergalactic bounty hunter. Launched into the surprise space adventure of a lifetime, Lisa and Sean discover that their seemingly average dad’s job is anything but boring. Dodging dangerous aliens, robots, and laser fights, the sci-fi action serves as a fertile foundation for a story all about family bonding.
The strongest element of My Dad the Bounty Hunter is that it embraces originality while also paying homage to some amazing moments in movie history. There are elements of the series that pull from across different genres while still feeling inventive. Beyond that, the series manages to forge its own path with incredible characters. With outlandish action elements and alien designs that range from adorable to weird, My Dad the Bounty Hunter manages to be thrilling and heartfelt in equal measure. Lisa and Sean have a sibling relationship that goes deeper than just surface-level elements, but the star relationship of the series has to be Lisa and her dad.
There isn’t a single character that is underused. Instead, all of the characters work to push each other in the story. With interesting discussions on balancing family and work (and fighting capitalism), there is no shortage of narrative weight no matter how exciting the laser fights get. The series manages to always pull itself back to the center and never lose its core.
Terry (Laz Alonso) may be a bounty hunter to the intergalactic world, but to his kids, he’s just dad. Even if his work has made him miss many important elements of their lives, the series takes the time to show both sides. We get to see why Terry was trying so hard to provide but more importantly, viewers see it from Terry’s perspective. She doesn’t want anything fancy or new, she just wants her dad. The way the two connect and meet each other across the gap that’s formed in their relationship is sweet, vulnerable, and doesn’t mince words.
On the other hand, we also get to see Sean grow up and find self-confidence in a way that doesn’t leave behind his quirks but shows his strength because of them. The dynamic relationships also allow the young actors to showcase their talents for both the emotional moments and the fun ones. While everything is wonderfully animated, chemistry between the voice-acting cast is what makes the series work completely.
While the score doesn’t always match the pace of the action, the series has one of the best scores in Netflix animation. Truth is, my only real issue is that My Dad The Bounty Hunter is that it is only ten episodes. While I want more from the story, the amount of reveals crammed into the last episode could have easily been spread across two or more. Adding a couple of more episodes would allow the revelations to have a deeper impact both for the audience and the kids at the center of the story. While the abrupt reveals do make great ground for season two, Netflix’s extremely spotty track record with allowing series to get more seasons makes the season’s finale seem too rushed. But one episode can’t spoil the fantastic nine before it.
Ultimately, My Dad The Bounty Hunter showcases how fun and fantastic original storytelling can be when you let it thrive. The series manages to use inventive creature design and sci-fi storytelling to tell a relatable family story. There is action, adventure, and aliens, but at its heart, My Dad The Bounty Hunter is about a dad just trying his hardest to do something for his family. It’s about learning how to talk to your parents but, more importantly, the importance of parents listening to their kids. With a little something to offer for nearly every age group, this is a series I hope gets the chance to continue.
My Dad the Bounty Hunter is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.
My Dad The Bounty Hunter
My Dad The Bounty Hunter showcases how fun and fantastic original storytelling can be when you let it thrive. The series manages to use inventive creature design and sci-fi storytelling to tell a relatable family story.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.