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Weird City reminds me a lot of a scene from the 1996 film adaptation of Matilda. Partway through the film a gluttonous child called Bruce is forced to eat multiple, gigantic chocolate cakes. At first he enjoys every bite of sicky, sweet chocolate. Time passes and what was once enjoyable eventually winds up as a laborious exercise, losing the charm it once had. Weird City is exactly like this.
Split across 6 episodes, YouTube Original Weird City is a delightfully bizarre sci-fi anthology that plays on an idealistic vision for the future. A city is split into two factions – the Haves and the Have Nots. From here, each episode weaves an individual tale with a key theme running through each one, designed to subvert expectations and play on the bizarre absurdity of the show. At first it works and for the first episode in particular, it works really well.
Unfortunately, beyond this point the series plays on the same rehearsed joke from the first episode with a different cast of characters and a brand new storyline. The second episode explores the idea of family before devolving into a weird action-comedy romp while the third is all about technology’s impact on our relationships and personal wellbeing. The fourth episode plays on the age old trope of a machine turning on its owner with the fifth exploring the idea of charity and selfish desires. The sixth episode is shorter than the rest, with a 17 minute sketch that turns into a self-aware parody.
Despite the issues inherent with this series, Weird City has some pretty funny sketches throughout. From a telephone operator singing hold music through to a recurring joke about a turtle in the desert, there’s a good use of absurdist humour used throughout the series to keep things tonally consistent. The recurring characters that crop up through all the individual episodes help to make this feel like one big universe too and aesthetically at least, the show does well to play on the futuristic notions and stark contrasts between both sides of The Line.
The problem is Weird City feels like a well-rehearsed one trick pony. It’s fun to begin with but quickly loses its charm and appeal as it rehashes and repeats the same joke and ideas again and again. It’s a shame too as there’s some really bold and clever themes explored but it’s lost in a myriad of repetition. Given the first few episodes are free on YouTube right now, I’d recommend giving these a go at least as they show the show at is best and inevitable worst. If you go in with low expectations, you may well be pleasantly surprised but those expecting a rival to Twilight Zone or Black Mirror may be left wanting.