NEW YORK – They arrive every year in their black and white tuxedos, causing traffic jams and clamoring for quality real estate.
Endangered African penguins have long been a source of delight to visitors of the South African community of Simon's Town, mixing with humans as they go about their tasks, which includes the important one of finding a nest and breeding.
Now these critters are the stars of a new eight-part series on Netflix called “Penguin Town,” which follows several of the birds and reveals their personalities, from a middle-aged pair nicknamed “the poster penguins for monogamy” to a young bachelor looking for his first mate.
“It became very clear very quickly that this was like watching a reality show like 'Love Island' or 'Big Brother,'” said Cayley Christos, a field producer on “Penguin Town” and co-owner at Red Rock Films.
“I know people don't love anthropomorphizing all the time, but it's hard not to do when they so clearly have these personalities,” she added. “And so we didn't really have a choice but to make it really personal.”
The show is narrated by comedian Patton Oswalt, a veteran at voiceover work. “I jumped at the chance because I watched a lot of the raw footage and I was just kind of bowled over how enchanting and sweet it was.”
Among the some 1,000 breeding pairs that arrive each mating season, the filmmakers capture relatable characters, including a whimsical misfit they call “Junior.”