Shushu Willis (Queen of the Willis)
|Queen of the Willis character|
|Created by||Ava Zinn|
|Voiced by||Ava Zinn|
|Full name||Sheryl Juanita Willis|
|Occupation||Supervillain (formerly), Preschool Student|
Shushu is an anthropomorphic Tabby cat. She can talk, generally walks on her hind legs (using her front legs as arms) and has opposable thumbs. Shushu, like Heather and Tabby acts in an adult way. In earlier seasons, Shushu was initially obsessed with violence.
Over the duration of the series, her violent aspects to some extent and personality have been toned down (most notably after Tabby's gender transition), and both Tabby and Shushu have evolved into an eccentric, friendly and flamboyant character. They also come to have a very close friendship with the family's anthropomorphic lobster, Heather. Shushu, along with Tabby, are considered to be the show's breakout character.
Development of Shushu
Shushu's voice is provided by Queen of the Willis creator Ava Zinn, who also provides the voices of Tabby Willis, Heather Willis, Ava Willis, and Anna Pamhouser as well as numerous other characters. Zinn based Shushu's voice was based on the voice of Cat Deeley,, as well as accent on Zinn's late cousin who was gay. Zinn has stated that her inspiration for the Shushu character was based on Garfield the cat character created by fellow Hoosier Jim Davis. Zinn has also linked Tabby and Shushu with Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith, respectively on more than one occasion, saying she wants Cartwright and Smith to respectively play Tabby and Shushu if a live action version of the show would ever be created.
Shushu's role in QOTW
Shushu is a 7-year-old female grey Tabby cat who is a pet prodigy who has a very sophisticated psyche and is able to speak very fluently in an upper-class English accent with quite advanced vocabulary. She is rescued by Rags (now Tabby) and Heather in Back Home Again in Indiana already 7, and like Tabby has not been referred to as being more than 7 years old since, despite being seen in many episodes attending Vivica A Fox Elementary School. Like Tabby, she highly literate and able to cite pop culture references that long predate her birth. She succumbs to other feline tendencies such as meowing, wagging her tail in distress, catching mice, birds, clawing people and has no idea how to use a litter box. Zinn has stated that Shushu is meant to represent the general helplessness of an cat through the eyes of an adult. Per cartoon physics, her ability to assist Tabby to move heavier objects of greater weight than themselves is not surprising to other characters, nor is her ability to retrieve chemicals from hammerspace, neither is her ability to talk.
She can talk, generally walks on her hind legs (using her front legs as arms), has opposable thumbs, drives a Oldsmobile Bravada (with the license plate "TABBYCAT"), and often acts more rationally than the other characters in the series. She is the pet cat and close friend of the Willis Family, and, although anthropomorphic animals are not a regular element of the show, Shushu's human attributes receive little acknowledgment and no explanation; she is largely treated as a human character, as much as Heather and Tabby. Shushu has a particularly close friendship with Heather and Tabby, and many of the show's sub-plots center around them. They are occasionally at the center of the plot, for instance in the "Back Home Again in..." episodes. Heather, Tabby and Shushu have a love–hate relationship in which they constantly argue and humiliate each other, and yet show appreciation for each other several times.
Shushu has helped Tabby construct robots, clones, as well as an assortment of guns and crossbows. Like Tabby, Shushu also employs these to cope with the stresses of feline life and to murder her owner, Angie, with mixed success at best depending on the objective. As made clear in "Back Home Again in Indiana", Shushu's matricidal tendencies are a result of Angie constantly (and unwittingly) thwarting her schemes, and so she desires to kill Angie to carry out her and Tabby's plans without their interference. In other, later episodes, Shushu and Tabby engages in other violent or criminal acts, including, aggravated assault ("Revenge of the Male Anchors 2") and killing off many minor characters (with knives, guns, and other assorted weaponry).
Like Tabby, Shushu also shows a complete disdain for most people, but does show affection and even rare instances of kindness to her family. Such moments include her support for Ava (whom she traditionally calls "Aeverine") despite generally thinks of Ava as an inferior – regarding her simply as "the tranny" and, at one point, harboring doubts that Ava could possibly be her biological father. In only one, such as "The former life of Sheryl Willis", it is shown that Shushu can love her owners. In that episode, after Ava recovers and repairs a lost Rupert and serves Shushu her favorite food lasagna (referencing to Garfield), she rethinks Ava and accepts her as a loving owner.
In the more recent seasons, Shushu has a larger amount of freedom from her pet parents, usually spending much of her time with Heather and Tabby.
Shushu's sexuality as a female cat and since Tabby's gender transition is ambiguous. When the writers began to incorporate Shushu's character since her first appearance in Back Home Again in Indiana, Zinn and the writers began to explore the female cat's sexuality with a series of one-off gags, which hinted in one episode is where Shushu's cellphone screensaver is of Tila Tequila. Another is where she has a picture of Karly Jameson in her wallet and she expresses her wishes to have sexual relations with Heather's daughter, Alexandra. Like Tabby, when she plays with a a male cat or female dog, husband and wife living in a little house in the garden, she discovers he has a girlfriend or a transgender boyfriend.
It is also shown in "Back Home Again in the Galaxy", it shows a part of the multiverse where there are many homosexuals, and Tabbby says "Love it," then Shushu says "Like it" and Heather says "Hate it," and they leave to another part of the multiverse. In "Unhappy Customers", Shushu (who plays the role of Angela Baker) sniffs the women's underwear after the male campers performed a panty raid in the girl's cabin until a transwoman (who plays the role of Mare) flashing her breasts. It turns out Mare is a muscular transman, whom Shushu does "lick", but not on the breatst nipple. The woman states "They're real-," and is interrupted by Shushu who replies, "I know." It is implied that Shushu is "lick" the transwoman's clitoris as a means of grasping, suggesting homosexual action on her behalf.
Zinn told CBS 11 in Indianapolis in 2008 "We had an episode that went all the way to the script phase in which Shushu does come out as bisexual. It had to do with the harassment she took from other pets at the kennel. Rags ends up going back in time to prevent a passage in Leviticus from being written: 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is an abomination.' But we decided it's better to keep it vague, which makes more sense because she's a five-year-old. Ultimately, Shushu will be a lesbian, transman or a very unhappy repressed heterosexual. It also explains why she's so hellbent on killing his owner, Angie and taking over the world: like Rags, she has a lot of aggression, which comes from confusion and uncertainty about her orientation."
Role in Queen of the Willis
Relationship with Heather
Despite their allegedly sociopathic nature, both Tabby and Shushu does seem to have a tender side. This is particularly evident through the growing close friendship they shares with Heather, the family lobster, whom they considers an intellectual peer and Heather is the only Willis family member who pays attention to what Tabby and Shushu say; treating then just like she would any other human adult on the show while other characters choose to mostly ignore the things Tabby and Shushu says. Originally, Tabby and Shushu enjoyed taunting Heather with curt remarks and abuse; but they have developed into best friends. In the "Back Home Again in..." episodes, Tabby and Shushu often goes on adventures with Heather, usually through difficult and sometimes surreal circumstances. These episodes are generally regarded by critics and fans to be the show's best episodes. They are usually at the center of the show's deepest and most sentimental episodes, one example being where Heather admits to Tabby and Shushu that she has considered suicide. In that episode, they also admit that they love each other, not as lovers, but as very close family/friends.
Both Tabby and Shushu have shown in a number of episodes that they are sexually attracted to Heather. These moments include a scene in the Queen of the Willis DTV film, RAGStory, where Heather tells who was then known as Rags that he is drunk, Tabby responds, "You're sexy." In the episode, "The Former Life of Heather", when Tabby and Shushu agrees to assist Heather in a magic show Shushu says, "You can split me in half" (quickly correcting it to "Saw me in half"). In "Heather's Song", after Heather's boyfriend leaves her and while the room is completely dark Tabby says to Heather, "Just to get back at him, you should have sex with the first person you see. No matter who it is," then she turns on the light while she is in Heather's face smiling.
Tabby and/or Shushu has made a strong effort to cheer Heather up on a couple of occasions. In one episode, after Melissa's rant leaves Heather in tears, Shushu cheers her up by saying she likes her and letting Heather spend the night in their room. Similarly, in "Lobstered", when Heather sinks into a deep drunken depression upon discovering that humanity, including the Willis family, has no regard for the lives of animals (including herself, Tabby or Shushu), Tabby steals her necklace and plants it on a stray cat, proceeding to fake Heather's death by sending it into a tobacco store and subsequently torching the store. Upon hearing of Heather's 'death', the other Willis' realize just how much Heather mattered to them and close a friend she is to the family. Seeing this reaction, Heather is uplifted.
Earlier in the series, before Shushu's arrival and Tabby's sex change, Tabby contemptuously referred to Heather as "Crab". She similarly referred to her pet father as "Ava" and Angie as "the fat girl" until accepting them as his pet parents, reverting to this form of address when frustrated or angry.
In "Crab Bites Tiger", Tabby and Heather have a falling-out when heather chews up Kevin in retaliation for Tabby always complaining about her to the tiger, as if Kevin were alive, but the two make amends when they spread Kevin's ashes at the St Joe River in Fort Wayne.
Merchandise and appearances in other media
Tabby and Shushu are one of the show's biggest merchandising icons, and they has been included on Queen of the Willis T-shirts and cardboard standups, refrigerator magnets, posters, and several other items.
Tabby and Shushu (along with other Ava Willis) appeared in promotions of Zinns for Relationship Choices (created by Samantha Zinn and Tiffani Zinn) on their YouTube channel criticizing Jessica's Policy, a longstanding family policy of creator Ava Zinn in 2011.
Understanding Tabby and Shushu
There is much debate over which characters in Queen of the Willis can understand both Tabby and Shushu. In an interview, Zinn said that everyone can basically understand them, but they ignore them or just think to themselves "oh how cute" when they talks. However at the 2018 panel, she compared this to Garfield and Odie in the cartoons. Zinn went on to say that Heather always hears Tabby and Shushu, and more recently so does Ava, Deanna, but the writers usually strive for Angie, the sextuplets, and Tom not to hear them. Once Tabby and Shushu leaves the house, the question of who can hear them depends very much on the story.
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