What is it:
Making Fun is a show about the design and building of large and unusual props and devices, such as an animatronic T-Rex that vomits on command, a huge guitar large enough to row like a rowboat, and a giant rock-paper-scissors machine.
The show stars Jimmy DiResta, a New York-based designer, and his 5 or 6 friends/colleagues working in Jimmy’s workshop in upstate New York. Making Fun is set up like a design competition, with the friends split into two teams, racing to meet a challenge that has been chosen by a few guest children judges, who change each week.
Who is it for:
The show has elements for all ages. There is some gross-out stuff (like having people doused in rotten food) that can appeal to young kids, but older kids and adults can enjoy watching the design process.
What Kids Like:
The kids like the pacing and the competitive aspect. They like the gross-out aspects, and they like seeing huge, whimsical objects come to life.
What Parents Like:
It’s a show that I genuinely enjoy, so it’s one of the few programs that we can all watch together and talk about as a family.
The program covers the occasional mistakes the designers make, such as over- or underestimating the weight of something. And seeing how problems are dealt with is very educational.
And I like that there is a show that discusses the design process of large, complex projects. There is a small number of design shows, and they usually cover the design of small STEM projects that kids could potentially make themselves. This show is more like visiting your grouchy uncle who has a top-notch workshop in his barn. It’s a niche that no other show fills.
In a way it’s a reality tv show, because most of the people on camera are not trained actors, but that lack of tv know-how makes the interactions that much more sincere and authentic.
What the Critics Think:
The show plays up a conceit that the designers are a bunch of Duck Dynasty extras who happen to have access to power tools, when in reality, the crew are all artists. I’m sure the crew really does have beards and wear plaid overshirts, but it’s as though Netflix saw the need to ‘add more testosterone’ to a show that is really about creativity and art.
The conceit about the guest kid judges yelling at the crew is annoying.
Although we see the overview of the design process, we don’t see much of the details, for example, the measuring.
Who Made it:
All of whom are established artists who also have their own YouTube channels and/or other Internet presences and followings.
WWLP in Massachusetts tells the story of how the show got started. John Graziano, Derek Forestier, and Paul Jackman were friends living in Malden, MA and were approached about a show. Pat and Jimmy were contacted and joined in soon after.