TV Review: Good Game (2017)

Good Game (Web Series) Artwork

Good Game is an American comedy web series developed by Michele Morrow and Jesse Cox and produced by Starburns Industries, the people behind shows like Moral Orel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Rick & Morty. The show debuted on August 30th 2017 on the YouTube Premium service YouTube Red, and ran through to September 27th 2017. It was however cancelled after its first season due to low viewership. It stars Dan Avidan (also known as Danny Sexbang, a co-host of Game Grumps as well as musician in Ninja Sex Party and Starbomb) as Alex Taylor, Arin Hanson (also known as Egoraptor, founder and co-host of Game Grumps, Animator, and vocalist in Starbomb) as Ryland Tate, Michele Morrow (an American on-air host, actress, cosplayer, producer, and voice actor, ans well as the show developer) as Ashley “Ash” Donovan, Jade Payton as Samantha “Sam” Kinsey, Rahul Abburi as Kamal Pasala, Michael Ornstein (an American actor and painter) as Lorenzo Santella Jr, Oliver Cooper as “SteaminSemen” and Jesse Cox (a YouTuber, comedian and commentator) as Jesse Newman. Okay, now onto the actual review, and I want to quickly add, that usually with TV reviews, I go episode by episode, especially with shorter shows, but at least for this one I wanted to focus on my overall impressions.

Okay, now I do have to admit that I went into this with a certain bias because I am a huge fan of Danny and Arin from Game Grumps, but I also aim to be as impartial as possible, especially since I’ve made a concerted effort to be as honest and forthcoming as possible in my submissions to this site. Anyway, I think the first episode was the strongest for me, their was no truly weak episode, and the finale was a nice resolution for me, but the first episode drew me in and encouraged me to part with my money on a weekly basis until the show was finished. What I liked about the first episode was that it all came together quite quickly, without feeling too rushed, it was obviously TV reality as opposed to regular reality, but that’s to be expected. We also get a feel for each character right from their introduction, there’s no fumbling around, or characters who aren’t finished yet, everyone is portrayed consistently, and within what they establish of their characters up front, but they also remain just malleable enough to have some sort of progress emotionally throughout the six episodes.

Character is key to this show, while Esports might not be accessible to everyone, the core cast and their characters are very much a part of what makes this show worth watching, they are far from perfect, Rahul Abburi character Kamal for example is just every stereotype of the worst modern youth, he’s obnoxious, vitriolic, childish and unable to handle criticism, but is more than capable of dishing it out. His character is real, and honest and unfortunately very familiar and yet despite that he shows progress throughout the show, probably not enough to balance out doxxing people but, he at least learns to use his negativity for good, or at least to help out his teammates, they also avoid the hacky TV convention of completely redeeming him, he makes just enough progress to be satisfying/believable but not enough that he comes out of this a different person all together.

Now, and I hate doing this I have to praise and…god I can’t get it out…criticise…Arin and Dan. First the praise, their characters were also good, as much as it could be said they were just playing versions of themselves, they worked very honestly within those characters. Dan’s character, Alex Taylor especially is just a highlight of the show, he’s sweet and optimistic, like a big, drunk puppy. But on the other hand, Arin and Dan are not professional actors (although they did take their roles seriously and did take acting lessons), and through Game Grumps they are far more experienced with stream of consciousness rather than scripted content, so they aren’t quite as polished as other members of the cast, but I honestly don’t think they can be blamed, they played their roles serviceably and improved as the season progressed.

Still along the line of character, what also impressed me was that everyone brought something to the table, so to speak. Everyone was different and had their own personality, motivations and reasons for wanting to join ‘Esports People’, enter the KillCore competition and win the prize money. it made it feel more like a cast of people, as opposed to a group of poorly developed character traits there to support the main characters Ryland Tate (Arin Hanson) and Alex Taylor (Dan Avidan). Speaking of which, throughout the six episodes, each character gets their own episode, one with builds and expands on them, while also helping to progress the overarching plot, it’s interesting and especially from the first season, of a new show, on a relatively new platform it was a safe bet for making sure that they covered as much ground and paved the way for any potential second season, as easily as possible.

I talked a little about pacing up above, I’ve seen other people complain that the show took a while to find its stride, I can’t say anything to their specific experience, if they didn’t enjoy it then that’s just how they feel and I doubt anything I could say would change their mind, that being said I’m just a little confused by that because frankly in terms of tone, character and plot development, it also flows really well and is established early on. Pacing in particular is smooth and well timed, each of the approximately 25 minute episodes just works really well, and I didn’t feel that their was particularly any wasted time, particularly since anything that could be cut out would be jokes, which would then mean it would no longer be a comedy. So I don’t particularly think that it took any time at all really to find it’s stride. Something that I particularly liked was that each episode ended with Jesse Cox’s character Jesse Newman who after finding out some shocking statistics/information regarding his game KillCore goes into somewhat of a tailspin emotional and loses it more with each episode leading right up to the finale, which I won’t spoil for you.

Overall, I enjoyed Good Game, it wasn’t perfect, but it was good, it starred likeable people as characters I enjoyed watching for one reason or another, it is framed around Esports and the gaming community, which is both an interesting topic to focus on, but also has the potential for humor that isn’t entirely conventional, at the very least because Esports and gaming isn’t necessarily as accessible to everyone. I am disappointed in two things though, firstly that it didn’t get a second season so we could see where they go from here, and how they build on what they’ve done so far, and secondly because they didn’t quite focus on the gameplay as much as I would have liked, but since the human element of the show is what drew me in and is what I’ve primarily based my review of the show on, I feel like and I will admit that asking for a focus on the gaming as well is a little bit of having my cake and eating it too. So do I recommend Good Game, honestly? I do. I don’t think it will be for everyone, it’s not so funny or well acted as to be instantly mainstream, and if you aren’t interested in gaming culture then this might not be for you, but overall I don’t see why people wouldn’t enjoy this, at least a little so I am giving Good Game a 4/5 and I hope that even though it was cancelled that we can see a revival in the near future. However for now, why don’t you click here and check out the first episode which is free over on the Game Grumps channel.


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