Fall used to be clearer — a shift in the wind, a turn of the leaves, inescapable pumpkin spice bullshit. Now those ecological markers are often askew, and the crisp autumn air might not make its way until school is already well in session. But one sure way to invoke fall, with all its rustic and rust-colored pleasures, is to watch Over the Garden Wall.
Until the end of August, you can stream Over the Garden Wall on Max and Hulu. Starting Sept. 1, you’ll only be able to stream it on Hulu. Who knows why the gods of streaming saw fit to shuffle this one off a platform just at the time we need it most, but it’s as good a reason as any to ring fall in early, weather be damned.
You need only spend a few minutes with Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean) to understand why these two brothers are the perfect companions to ring in the season. Lost in some woods — dubbed “the Unknown” — they happen upon one conundrum after the next, each one more alternately spooky or spoopy than the last, as they struggle to make their way home.
Over the Garden Wall excels at flitting back and forth between a fantastical world and one far more like our own. It doesn’t take long for Wirt and Greg to feel like your own travel companions, with everyone in awe of the vividly drawn world in their own way (Greg, for instance, completely jibes with it). You stumble upon a town where all the people have pumpkin heads and sing a harvest song while dancing around an autumnal maypole structure. Maybe it is “some kind of weird cult where they wear vegetable costumes and dance around a big thing,” but who cares! They seem nice enough. But maybe Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey), the talking bird you’ve arrived with, is right, and it’s something far darker and more mystical.
Where other shows might feel the need to rush to define the world, Over the Garden Wall simply is, jumping rope with that line as it bounds through its Unknown. It’s a charming liminal space, and if audiences are game to indulge it, they’ll find the unraveling of the mysteries Greg, Wirt, and Beatrice encounter rewarding.
With Wirt’s worry and Greg’s easy delight, Over the Garden Wall elegantly balances the dual feelings of changing seasons. Like any claymation Christmas special, it is true seasonal programming, and Max should know better than to let it exit when the cool winds of fall are just around the corner (hopefully). While it lives on elsewhere, no one should have to subscribe to every streaming channel just to keep up with the fruit of the season. But, as Over the Garden Wall teaches us, sometimes it’s worth undergoing some hardship to find the sweet reward at the end. So mark your calendars: It’s Autumn August now. Happy harvest, all.
Over the Garden Wall is now streaming on Max and Hulu. After Sept. 1, it will only be streaming on Hulu.