Creators: Dan Perrault, Tony Yacenda
Stars: Alexa Mansour, Stephen Schneider, Moses Storm
The biggest hurdle for Players may be whether it can live up to the high expectations set by its predecessor. The series hails from the same team as Netflix’s prematurely canceled American Vandal, and uses a similar mockumentary format to portray the last gasp of fictional eSports team Fugitive Gaming and its star player (Misha Brooks), who goes by “Creamcheese.” . At 27 years old, Creamcheese has yet to win a championship and is fast approaching his sell-by date in the pro leagues. Needing new blood, the Fugitive recruits a popular streamer, 17-year-old Organizm, and allows him to skip the lower leagues of the “Academy”, to the point of displacing Creamcheese’s most trusted teammate.
Players has the visual brilliance and majestic soundtrack of your average sports documentary, and it’s made fun by the juxtaposition between a Reddit post titled “This Team Sucks” and a dramatic music track in the opening credits. But the series just isn’t as innately funny as American Vandal, which branded the absurdity of presenting the mystery surrounding youthful high school pranks as a true-crime documentary to ridiculous lengths.
Parents at Organizm are incredulous at the prospect of people getting paid to play video games, as well as people wanting to watch other people play video games. While this is meant to communicate a generation gap, it speaks to Players’ overall problem: what might seem absurd to an outside observer has long been normalized by the show’s intended audience. Such viewers are so used to terrible usernames, arcane terminology, and intrusive links that the presence of such details will not be much of a joke.
Players often feel like their charade has been reined in, which may or may not have something to do with the series revolving around an actual game. While some silly lines play into the impenetrable jargon of team-based games like League of Legends, they fall short next to something like Mythic Quest’s absurdist manifesto, which focuses on a fictional MMORPG and most reliable and virtuous way becomes the absurd.
The weight of humor in Players falls, therefore, on characters like Creamcheese, whose selfishness and forgetfulness are played for laughs and whose name is genuinely fun to hear in serious contexts. But even here, the series doesn’t go far enough: if truth is often stranger than fiction, Creamcheese’s irritating qualities hardly compare to embarrassments in the real-life gaming community, such as the bizarre gaffes of blunder made by executives and streamers alike. on the regular. Worse yet, Creamcheese and Organizm’s rivalry never really gets off the ground, as the latter is written as so secretive and enigmatic that it hardly makes an impression.
That said, the story of Fugitive Gaming remains a fascinating one, despite representing a fairly familiar clash of old and new. Weaving together the team’s current struggles with interviews and historical footage from its founding, rise, and subsequent stagnation, Players maintains surprising momentum. In this regard, the show’s most resonant role comes not from an especially bizarre comic relief, but from devoted Kyle Dixon (Ely Henry), a founding Fugitive player turned long-suffering coach who must put up with the antics of Creamcheese and a nosy owner. (Stephen Schneider). ) who likes basketball more. Players may not reach the comedic heights of American Vandal, but it follows in that show’s footsteps more visibly by taking its characters seriously, no matter how ludicrous their situation.