'Betas' react: Not all nerds are created equal
In case you hadn’t noticed, there are these things called apps that seem to be all the rage right now. And thanks to Amazon’s new original comedy series, Betas, you get to meet the young adults behind those fancy boxes on your smartphone … fictionally-speaking. Welcome to the techie headquarters!
Betas follows four friends as they navigate the digital world of San Francisco in hopes of getting an investor for their beta — fancy Silicon Valley talk for test site/app. For Trey, Nash, Hobbes, and Mitch, it’s all about getting their app off the ground, which is (ironically) designed to help users figure out what social activity they want to do and then find people they can do it with, a.k.a get off the phone and have some actual social interaction.
In the first three episodes, all of which are now available on Amazon, we become acquainted with these four men. First, there’s Trey. He’s the attractive leader of the bunch. The man with the (often crappy) plan, who acts as the spokesperson for the group. Then there’s Nash, the neurotic programmer with all kinds of social anxiety who’d much rather code then chat. Hobbes is the laid back, I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks type, who spends most of his time making crude jokes, ordering robotic vaginas, and trying to buy drugs. Finally, there’s Mitch, Hobbes’ slightly more moral sidekick, whose purpose seems to be all about making Hobbes likeable. Spoiler: It doesn’t quite work.
All in all, the episodes follow the guys as they pitch their app to the overly eccentric George Murchison, get enlisted in a beta program, and start navigating life as twenty-something “wantrepreneurs,” which includes moving in together, going on double dates, hooking up with exes, and on one occasion, singing karaoke. The nerd factor is key, which means you might get some jokes and miss others, but it won’t be for lack of trying, which is both good and bad. The show caught me off-guard a few times, both making me laugh out loud and making me squirm.
Other than Trey, who’s the most interesting of the bunch (and not because he’s cute), the characters are a bit extreme. Take Hobbes, who after three episodes, could be the reason people turn away. Although I understand that each shows needs that person, I don’t think each show needs a character who carries around his dead cat in a bag, watches porn at a laundromat, and whose every other word is about sex. And when it comes to Nash and Mitch, I see potential, but I’m not invested yet.
The good news is that by episode 3, the show finds its rhythm, and by sparking a potential romance between Trey and one of Murchison’s employees, it’s already branching out and diversifying the story lines. But no flirtation can help me forget the robotic vagina. So even if this show did dial down the cringe-worthy sexual references, I’m not sure I’d invest in this beta.