You probably know that Netflix and Amazon have started creating their own shows, but have you heard that YouTube is creating its own original content too? Enter Good Game, a show written by YouTubers, starring YouTubers, and executive produced by Dan Harmon (writer and producer of Community and Rick & Morty). This eSports comedy series has a few good jokes here and there but it is let down by some cringeworthy performances and flat writing.
Good Game is a comedy about a new group of gamers who want to enter a tournament for a MOBA called Killcore. Written by well-known player/podcaster Jesse Cox and host/actress Michele Morrow, Good Game does a great job at portraying the gaming culture with some unexpected (but funny) jabs on the current political climate and the eSports scene. The writing and the jokes can feel forced, but at the same time, it feels very current as it tackles racism, homophobia, and sexism all in one episode. The characters also speak to each other in a natural way than what you normally see on television–and it’s refreshing. The end of the second episode presents the promise of character progression that might tie the whole thing together.
But here’s the thing–the writing falls flat more often than not. There are a few zingers sprinkled in the first two episodes, such as a funny character name that a player is plagued with since he was a kid, or an incredibly random but humorous line. But most jokes don’t land, some of the plot threads are too convenient, the pacing is slow, and cliches rear their ugly head.
You have to hold your sense of disbelief with this show. With little background, you learn to believe that a tennis player, a teenager, an older gentleman, a host, and a washout can make an eSports team and enter a tournament just like that. How the two leads find and create the team is crazy as they somehow were able to get their details and find out exactly where they were. The writing also ignores the fact that Alex and Ryland owe Lorenzo six months worth of rent and then Lorenzo is willing to just throw money at these very people for a new team that he is a part of. Thankfully (as the creators of the show are actually a part of the gaming community), the script doesn’t sting of the forced humour that ridicules gamers you see in most television shows, and at the end, they actually make fun of those who are ignorant of the hobby.
Most of the jokes are either low-brow or incredibly random to the point of them not being funny. That’s pretty much the Game Grumps style of humour (sometimes it works in a television format, but most of the time, it doesn’t). For example, there’s this one painfully awkward scene about Alex and Ryland acting like they are representing a micro-penis support group to a mother, in order to get a teenager on their team. This support group was hacked by the teenager and they’re trying to portray them to talk to him about the “issue”.
This show’s biggest problem is the hosts of Game Grumps (Dan Avidan and Arin Hanson) themselves. They are not actors and it’s clear from their performances. The way they deliver their lines is so wooden and the way they interact with the other actors feels out of place. You can’t help but feel bad as Avidan and Hanson are trying to shout out their lines at pivotal scenes or react to what’s going on with canned expressions. Both stand out like a sore thumb, and I wish they hired actual actors to fulfill the roles rather than trying to find “big YouTubers who will be part of the show.”
The majority of the actors deliver good performances, especially Rahul Abburi, who plays Kamal, a teenager who acts like a smug internet troll, but is slowly progressing throughout the show in a natural way. The co-creator Michele Morrow also delivers solid acting and timing with her lines (this probably came from her previous acting work). Jade Payton and Michael Ornstein have great timing with their line deliveries and act naturally with the rest of the cast.
Is it worth watching the first episode for free? Go ahead! It provides some good writing and a few good laughs. Is it worth a re-spawn with the second episode? You should just leave if you’re not feeling the humour or the distracting acting from the two leads. There isn’t a time penalty for it.
(Featured Image: Good Game, Starburns Industries and YouTube)