Comedy Central’s Corporate returned for its third and final season with an episode all about streaming, content and debates over series finales. In typical Corporate fashion, everything goes haywire and off the rails yet eerily is grounded in where we are as a society. The series often veers into very meta scenarios and situations which can seem farlandish yet cut to the issues of today. We’re extremely lucky Comedy Central believed in this series despite soft ratings.
Corporate is a comedy series about two employees at a massive major company called Hampton DeVille. Matt (Matt Ingebretson) and Jake (Jake Weisman) go through their lives at the company being beaten down by the system yet continue working day after day because it’s what they have to do. They often interact with their co-worker in HR, Grace (Aparna Nancherla) who hates it at the company as much as they do. They work for upper management Kate Glass (Anne Dudek) and John Strickland (Adam Lustick) who are “yes men” for the company. At the top of the company is Christian DeVille (Lance Reddick).
In the final season premiere episode, Hampton DeVille is trying to focus on getting more content on their streaming service so that they can drive up subscriptions. We find that the entire office is enthralled by a series called Society Tomorrow and every discussion about their own streaming service goes out the window. The series is about to end and they all discuss their opinions on how the series should wrap up. Later that night, a group of employees get together to watch the finale together. Everyone hates it, except Grace, who pretends to hate it because of everyone else’s over the top hatred and reactions to the series finale.
The next day at the office, they all complain about the finale and Grace begins to break out in shingles every time she chooses to lie about hating the finale. Christian announces that the company has bought the rights to the series in order to produce a better ending, and in doing so has to cut all benefits and fire most of the employees on top of more financial cuts. A group of remaining employees get selected to help formulate the perfect ending for Society Tomorrow, but Kate and John inform them that they were merely there to witness what the data says from fans on the internet. They compile all of the data from those fans online who give their opinion on how the series should have ended and come up with a data driven ending that they all hate. One by one more scenarios are pitched, but they all are worse than the one before. Grace’s shingles continue to get worse.
Meanwhile, Jake, having never watched the series or understanding the hype around it, babysits his niece while his sister goes to watch the series finale of Society Tomorrow. His niece reveals that she has been watching a series on Hampton DeView, Hampton DeVille’s streaming service, and is surprised. She tells him that she has been using a friend’s password and that she would never pay for it. The show that she wants to watch with Jake that she loves is called Pickles 4 Breakfast, a poorly CGI animated kids series about a world where kids all want pickles for breakfast and they have to eat them before birds try to eat the pickles. The kids must kill the birds to protect the pickles. Jake, horrified, tries to find out more about the disturbing series and why his company would produce content like that. He ends up finding his way to an empty office space with a computer set up and one employee who tells him that the series is constructed entirely by data. In the time she informs Jake that the series is made by algorithms and no humans at all, the computer has created 50 more episodes.
Learning this information, Jake goes to Matt, Christian, Kate and John to try and warn them of the implications this could have on society. It is in that instant that Christian proclaims that he knows the perfect way to end the series. The employees all gather to watch the new series finale, which is the exact same ending, but with a “To Be Continued…” instead of “The End” at the end of the episode. Christian reveals that Society Tomorrow “will live on forever.” Algorithms will drive future sequel series, prequel series and spinoffs with side characters that don’t have enough story to support their own series for years and seasons to come. All of this to give fans everything they wanted and more, milking their content forever, even long after fans of the series begin hate watching it.
The season premiere was hilarious and disturbingly realistic. It poked fun at our need for content, wanting that content to reflect how we as fans feel it should turn out, and calling out streaming content providers for relying on algorithms and data more than they should. It was also obviously calling out the over the top reactions to the ending of Game of Thrones, among other series with controversial finales, but also pointing out that content is all driven by data and not everyone is going to truly be happy. (But Game of Thrones deserves it, we all know it!) With 5 more episodes left in the final abbreviated season of Corporate, I can’t wait to see what they decide to tackle in the coming weeks. I can already tell this season will be another great season after this extremely strong start. Get into this series and you won’t be disappointed.
I can’t get the Pickles 4 Breakfast song out of my head still. Help!
Corporate airs Wednesdays at 10:30PM on Comedy Central. You can stream Corporate on Comedy Central’s website or app. http://www.cc.com/shows/corporate