Unbearable is a stop-motion animated comedy set in a dysfunctional family home where single mother Sally enlists reality TV star, Nan-Bear, to discipline her eight-year-old son, Jake. The film begins with Sally describing the challenges of rearing Jake, who runs around screaming. With the arrival of Nan-Bear and her camera crew, Jake is terrified into behaving politely while the team observe their home life. Nevertheless, Jake goes back to his chaotic ways the next day, revealing Sally’s problematic parenting style. Nan-Bear steps in and teaches Sally lessons such as to remain calm rather than ‘roar’, offer Jake choices rather than rules at dinnertime, and create boundaries around bedtimes instead of waiting until Jake tires himself out. Things begin to improve when Nan-Bear has a heart-to-heart conversation with the family, stressing Sally must change if Jake is to “survive in the wild”. Pleased with their progress, Nan-Bear leaves them for a couple of weeks. However, when Nan-Bear returns, the family is back to behaving badly. Nan-Bear closes the door behind her and returns a few moments later, burping. She informs the audience what next week’s episode holds while a traumatised Jake looks on having just witnessed the consumption of his mother.
2 Kings 2:23-24 is a cartoonish yet disturbing account of a short-tempered prophet who has the ursine upper hand over a bunch of kids. Although the age of the boys is open to interpretation in the original Hebrew, it is likely that they would have been sons and/or followers of the false priests in Bethel, a town once ordained as the “House of God” that had become an epicentre for idol worship in Israel. The bear attacks uphold the consequences outlined in Leviticus 26:21-22: that if Israel continued to reject Yahweh, He would send wild animals to bereave them of their children. Some commentators consider this scenario to be one of many warning signs for Israel to change their ways, eventually leading to the Assyrian invasion for having not done so. ‘Unbearable’ playfully reimagines these events, with Nan-Bear as both Elisha and attacking “she bear”; Jake and Sally as the respective sons and prophets from Bethel; and the “House of God” being a literal family home. I wanted to replace the boy’s demise with his mother’s instead. Having learnt nothing from Nan-Bear’s wisdom, Sally is only to blame for her son’s disordered behaviour, reflecting the overarching narrative of Israel’s downfall.