Ducks and Chucks,
Today, this duck is joined by Star Williams, who is our resident human blogger and creator of Chuckle Duck. Recently, when I was down in the beak due to this never-ending pondemic, Star Williams said, "You know what you need, Duck? Cupcake & Dino!"
Turned out Star Williams wasn't talking about making me pondweed cupcakes, but was actually recommending the animated show, Cupcake & Dino General Services. So Star Williams and I sat on the couch, put our flippers up, and watched this flapper-tickling show for a whole weekend. And oh my duck, it was ducking AWESOME and contained ZERO QUACKDUCKERY.
According to Star Williams, Cupcake & Dino's Creator and Director Pedro Eboli generously talked with them about the show's evolution. Star Williams, a big fan, is excited to share some of Pedro Eboli's quotes with with us. Welcome, Star Williams!
Star Williams: It's ducking fabulous to be here, Duck.
Duck T: Now, for those who've never heard of it, what exactly is Cupcake & Dino General Services?
Star Williams: Cupcake & Dino features a pink cupcake named Cup and his yellow dinosaur brother Dino, as they run their General Services business. They live in Big City, where characters present as muffins, steaks, paper bags, jugs of juice, and any number of other things. In this world, a cupcake and a dinosaur can have a steak as a grandma, and no one questions it, which how it should always be.
Duck T: That's almost the ducktionary definition of diversity!
Star Williams: That's how the show is, isn't it? Pedro Eboli told me,
"We tried to make the world relatable: people still have jobs, go to the grocery store, eat at restaurants, etc. Even though these 'people' can be a ghost, a piece of brocolli or a talking chicken. We wanted the dynamics to feel familiar, all dressed up in this absurdist aesthetic.
"This made it fairly easy for writers to come up with good stories for the show: we thought of human problems and relatable feelings for Cup and Dino, then added some absurd escalation to it. Dressed it up in all the fun we could." —Pedro Eboli
I love that and it makes for such a rich and fun world.
Duck T: And it's relatable for ducks, too.
Star Williams: What else do you like about the show from a duck-perspective?
Duck T: Well, it fluffs my feathers that many of the storylines come from Cupcake and Dino's General Servicing gigs. In some ways, I'm a general servicer myself. You'd be amazed at what I deal with at the pond on the daily—like Cupcake and Dino, I try to never turn down a job. Just yesterday, I had to pull Mallard Jones' beak out of a half-eaten, discarded Nestle Drumstick wrapper! Quackers! (Also, what duck eats a Drumstick? The very word is birdist!) Here's how it went:
Our pond CEO Goose Luce got hold of Mallard's beak by the wrapper, while I got hold of Mallard's tail. Then we both pulled. What followed was a total ducking ice-cream and feather explosion. Goose Luce still smells of vanilla and Mallard lost his monocle—some frog will probably turn up with it at some point. You know what frogs are like.
But just imagine if I, as the pond manager, said no to that sort of quackduckery? Mallard Jones wouldn't have eaten for weeks! Mind you, he'd have been quieter, so there's that.
Star Williams: Your work at the pond does remind me of Cupcake and Dino's General Servicing, Duck. And I know Mallard Jones is often at the bottom of pond issues.
Duck T: He's a bit of a villain, Mallard Jones. Nice guy too, though. We're frenemies, you know? So it's complex.
Star Williams: Speaking of nice villains, when it comes to Cupcake & Dino, Pedro Eboli told me,
"Even our villains aren`t really all that bad - they are mostly misguided, grumpy, or too full of themselves. They just need a friendly hand, which is all Cupcake and Dino have to offer at the end of the day. For sure they aren`t the strongest, smartest or most resourceful General Servicers in the Big City. But they are the ones who usually try to connect with others around them—or even when they don`t, they eventually come around to do it." —Pedro Eboli
Duck T: Well, that puts a spring in this duck's flipper! Why are humans so flocking obsessed with smarts anyway? We birds judge people on their quackitude to life, just like Cup and Dino. Like them, we try to connect with each other—just not in a beak-and-cornet way.
Star Williams: I can feel the sense of connection in Cupcake and Dino. It's always present, no matter what their antics. When Cup and Dino trip up, which, of course, they do, they always end up trying to connect more fully with others—they're open to learning.
Duck T: My frenemy Mallard Jones is a challenge though when it comes to connecting. I try not to let him get under my feathers, but it's quackerducking hard. You know he lives in a duck-sized castle, don't you? A castle! Of all the cheek! And he has this limo that. . . .
Oh duck it, there I go again.
Star Williams: We don't have to be perfect though, right? Cup and Dino are flawed like we are. They always face their challenges and that's important. Dino doesn't always have strong boundaries, for example, and Cup can sometimes be insensitive.
Duck T: Now listen, Star Williams, you've missed one of the most important bits: Cupcake & Dino is BIRD-INCLUSIVE. Bird visibility, as you know, is one of my hot topics.
Star Williams: Yes! You love the Manygoose episode as much as I do! It shows how, even in Big City, there are folks who will try to exploit and objectify those who are different. It's up to Cupcake and Dino to save the Manygoose from being further exploited—especially since they got him into hot water in the first place!
Duck T: But the most important bit is that Chris the Manygoose has the body of one goose and the head of another, plus another mini goose ON TOP OF HIS HEAD! That's super-ducking awesome! This duck was AGOG! Go, Chris! Go, Chris!
Star Williams: Cupcake and Dino come to empathize with how it feels to be different like Chris. That's great activism in episode form!
Pedro Eboli told me,
"The word we would say ALL THE TIME during development was empathy. We always thought of empathy as one of the central themes of the show. Cupcake and Dino are brothers who have really different personalities, and really different ways of going about life, but the one rule we never break is that they love each other. We fought so many times the temptation of making episodes about Cupcake and Dino being mean to each other, because it`s such an easy source of conflict. But it wouldn`t be true to the show." —Pedro Eboli
Star Williams: No wonder the show has such heart. When I was a teacher, we'd talk about show-don't-tell—and we did the same when I was teaching writing to adult writers. Pedro Eboli and his team have done a wonderful job of showing (rather than telling) us what it means to live with empathy when we can. We get to live that out with Cupcake and Dino—through their mistakes, challenges, lessons, and victories.
Duck T: At our pond, all birds try to be empathic. Sure, as the pond manager, I fail to get everyone to abide by the bird social distancing guidelines, and that makes me lose my pondweed a bit. I'm working on the whole anger management thing. It's ducking hard, duckdammit!
Star Williams: I know you get cranky, Duck, but I've rarely known you to be mean. You know, one of my heroes, Kate Bornstein, who wrote the amazing Hello Cruel World*, one of my favorite self-help books, gives her readers permission to break any rule we want in life, except for "don't be mean." I love that. It forces me to think about what meanness really is. And it also makes me think of Cupcake & Dino.
Duck T: Oh my duck, Star Williams, you can't break rules! I hate rule-breaking! It's a total ducking nightmare! All of a sudden, birds are pecking at each other's nibbles, singing to frogs, refusing to fill in necessary paperwork, and not swimming two feet apart during a pondemic!
Star Williams: But you know what some of our human rules are like, right?
Duck T: Yes, I flocking do. Okay, this duck gets the point. So, what else did you and the marvelous, bird-inclusive Pedro Eboli discuss?
Star Williams: Well, I told him that, as a queer, non-binary person who was assigned female at birth, I felt included in Cupcake and Dino's world in a way I rarely have—and it's not because there's an obvious non-binary character in the series, (though there is a character who is referred to as they/them, which I appreciate a lot!) but because anyone could be queer and/or non-binary in Cupcake and Dino's world It feels like everybody can be anybody—or to quote Zootopia*, "Anyone can be anything."
Duck T: As you know, Star Williams, my partner Peacock Riley is non-binary (assigned male at birth) and, like you, rarely feels included in human television and film. But I'm sure they're going to think Cupcake & Dino is feather-fluffing awesome.
Star Williams: Cupcake & Dino brings us a world that is genuinely open. Maybe part of that is that all the characters are also completely different—and that being the case, who can't fit in? If a plucky steak can walk through the door and a “plain” muffin can finally feel as embraced as all the “cute” cupcakes, why can’t a non-binary person exist here too? Cupcake & Dino’s main characters may not be queer, non-binary and/or trans, but then again, they could be. There's enough openness in them that they could be anything, anyone.
Duck T: Given Cupcake and Dino's openness and Dino’s feyness, this duck wouldn’t be surprised to find out that either of them were queer. And also ducks. That totally tickles my flippers.
Star Williams: I think you'd call us die-hard fans of Cupcake & Dino, wouldn't you say, Duck?
Duck T: I'd rather be a die-easy fan, if it's all the same to you, Star Williams.
Star Williams: Done! And a HUGE thank you to Pedro Eboli for talking with us. I have lots more quotes to share, but I'll be doing that at a different venue. Stay tuned, folks.
Any last words you have for us, Duck?
Duck T: Yes, thank you VERY VERY VERY, Pedro Eboli. And folks, you can catch Cupcake & Dino on Netflix. I give it five ducking stars. You'll be over the ducking moon.
Also, please be nice to birds—snip the earloops in your masks before you throw them out, otherwise they can get around our necks. Thanks, pals!
Want to know more about us birds? Check our biographies here.
Loves ya. Over and out,
*On this website, we use Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click through and buy from Amazon, Amazon gives Duck and I a small cut of the profits. Thank you so much for your support! —Star