What’s the trigger word that you absolutely should not say around Futurama fans? It’s got to be “canceled”, right?

When Futurama first premiered in 1999, perhaps even the biggest of The Simpsons lovers couldn’t have predicted how tremendous the sci-fi sitcom would be. It was a fast introduction to the Planet Express crew, but after just a few episodes it was clear that Fry, Leela, Bender, and the cast of supporting characters were destined to become iconic.

(L to R) Lauren Tom as Amy Wong, Phil LaMarr as Hermes, John DiMaggio as Bender, Billy West as Zoidberg, Katey Sagal as Leela all standing in an open doorway in Futurama
Futurama | Official Trailer | New Season July 24 | cr. Hulu YouTube

Over the years, it gradually became thousands of people’s favorite show—every new episode unmissable.

Tragically, it was canceled after season 4, with audiences bidding farewell with The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings in 2003. Fortunately, on the other hand, it was resurrected for feature-length films in 2008 that were followed up for another season in 2010. And yet, 2013 marked the second time that the series was canceled, capped off with season 10’s Meanwhile.

“We just can’t have nice things,” thought the fandom upon suffering yet another heartbreak. Fast forward a decade later, to the present, and we’ve arrived at season 11, with Hulu and Disney+ delivering the revival that we’ve all been waiting for.

The first episode of the return is called The Impossible Stream and premiered on Monday, July 24th 2023. It directly follows up the events of Meanwhile, reuniting us with the Professor as he finds an aged Fry and Leela. The lovers agree to go another round and time unfreezes with everything resuming as it was before things stopped in Meanwhile.

“Did someone switch the universe off and on?” asks Amy. “It feels like we got rebooted,” Hermes chimes in, delivering a sly meta joke about Hulu rebooting the series.

“Why is my beer stale?” Bender asks, which can be interpreted as yet another meta-joke, with the writers playfully making the tongue-in-cheek gag that Futurama has grown stale after reaching seasons of double digits.

“Well,” Bender begins, “whatever happened, the important thing is it will never ever happen agai—” he continues before his body goes limp and he’s shut off. It’s the writers alluding to the fact that Futurama fans feel seasoned when it comes to cancelation, and making the joke that it’s inevitably going to be canceled at the drop of the hat, at the flick of a switch. It’s a terrific and meta way to give a nod and a wink to the hardcore fans and say “Yes, we know, we feel your frustration.”

However, not wanting to open the season on a down note and instead feel celebratory, Bender comes to and says “I’m just yanking your ass, we’re back baby”, before puffing on his cigar. It’s an open letter to the fans: We were canceled, and again, we were canceled… but don’t fear, Futurama is back, and you have a guaranteed 20 episodes to look forward to and treasure.

With the Planet Express crew’s cheers transitioning into the classic title card reveal with a twist—it reads Hulurama instead—the hardcore fans will experience the installment’s opening as a big win and wish to cheer along with them.

It was a fantastic first episode, and Bender was right, they really are back. Here to stay? We don’t know, and that’s why the joke’s the perfect way to kick open the doors again.

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