The news network runs a special report about the 10 Hottest Atrocities. An executive demands some marketable new addictions. Human Resources has a binder full of Acceptable Female Tones for the Workplace. Welcome back to Corporate, a delightful satire for a world where “apocalyptic melancholy” is a mood you can purchase in stores.
Created by Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman, this little-seen wonder was 2018’s funniest new comedy. Ingebretson and Weisman play junior execs Matt (optimist) and Jake (cat-loving nihilist), respectively. They work at nefarious super-company Hampton DeVille. In season 2 (debuting Jan 15. at 10:30 on Comedy Central), their CEO Christian (majestically unhinged Lance Reddick) plots a media take-over, consumerizes Armageddon, hunts an intruder with a sword, and says the immortal line “Andy Richter Controls the Universe is a criminally under-appreciated classic!” He says these entirely accurate words to Richter himself; other guests this season include Kyra Sedgwick as a lunatic kabillionaire and Elizabeth Perkins as a frustratingly diligent accountant.
Corporate has a cheerfully absurd vision of contemporary megacorp office culture. There are melodramatic board meetings, casual expense report fraud taken to heist-movie extremes, the social etiquette of email exclamation points, executive dudebros bonding over stories about “My f—ing wife!” until those three words somehow become a collective catchphrase.
But there’s a richness to the characters, too, all these office drones who seem at once narcotized by the horrors of the modern world while still being capable of hyperbolically concerning themselves with the banalest facts of office life. The third episode of the season, “Natural Beauty,” is a real showcase for Anne Dudek, an excellent actress you’ve seen in literally everything. And Ingebretson and Weisman have such a great comic rhythm. Ingebretson’s frequently a foot taller than anyone else onscreen, but his Matt radiates such perpetual doomed hope: You think of the proverbial ostrich hiding its head in the sand, tall body hilariously exposed.
That means Weisman gets all the sharp, outrageous lines. At one point, he refers to cute dogs as “overbred mutants too stupid to beg for death,” before casually dismissing the entire canine species as “the exclamation point of animals.” Somehow, the Jake-Matt friendship is kind of believable. Matt to Jake: “You hate dogs, you wanna die, and you’re the person I feel closest to in this world.” On Corporate, that’s a declaration of love.
The second season expands its vision outside the workplace and has great fun lacerating the angst of the grumpy old millennial. There’s a standout episode about social media grief, another about being too old to go out on weeknights. The bleakness runs alongside a whimsical, Monty Python-ish absurdity. At one point, HR rep Grace (the goddamn hilarious Aparna Nancherla) turns her office into an indoor-plant Eden. It’s a respite from the synthetic cube-world around her — and then she starts giving the plants voices. There are also some 1984 references, but those references specifically bring up the creeping suspicion that everyone making 1984 references have never read 1984. Orwell would’ve laughed at Corporate. Or cried? Who can tell the difference anymore? A-