Corporate premieres January 17, 10pm on Comedy Central.
By Chris Flanagan
From the opening scene which touches on proper email etiquette when copying a fellow employee (a conversation I’ve actually been a part of in real life), I knew that not only was Corporate going to be an acquired taste for most viewers but that I immediately would count myself among that group. Corporate is a darkly satirical takedown of everyday life within a soulless corporation that is only driven by bottom lines, brand awareness and the slowly eroding lives of its employees that keep its wheel of greed continually turning. From that, you could guess that this show is a comedy. What’s even better is it’s an oddly good one. Corporate hits close to home for me, but that made me like it even more. There are some truly outlandish and often silly questions or statements that arise during the first couple of episodes but where I felt most disturbed was that during each of them I thought at least once, “Yeah, that could happen or maybe it already did.” I am partially kidding about this, but if you watch the show then you’ll understand that there could be a small part of you that thinks the same and would not put it past the current corporations in the world today.
Corporate follows the lives of two Jr. Executives, Matt (Matt Ingebretson) and Jake (Jake Weisman), at the conglomerate Hampton DeVille, as they navigate the monotony of life within an office building without completely selling out their lives to the corporate world. Matt is still holding onto a small piece of his humanity while Jake fully admits that he would jump at the first chance to get rich and move up the ladder. Their personalities are anchored by their friend and HR representative, Grace (Aparna Nancheria), as they constantly attempt to appease their bosses, John (Adam Lustick) and Kate (Anne Dudek), and CEO Christian DeVille (Lance Reddick) without fully becoming just like them. What makes this show work well is that Matt and Jake are played as very straightforward characters who the viewer can relate to, while those they encounter around them are the eccentric and weird comedic foils that are often times the source of the show’s comedic strength.
While Corporate is well-written and features fairly good acting, it also boasts some well-executed editing, dark cinematography and clever use of music throughout the show that creates a feeling ominous dread and darkness. It’s difficult to describe, however, some of the jump cuts and dramatic music make it appear as if viewed from a different perspective this could double as a slow-burning thriller about the horrors of working a 9 to 5 job. These aspects help add to the show’s ambiance and keep the viewer’s attention. What’s also nice is that after a strong first episode the show does not lose momentum in the episodes that follow.
Corporate is a bold and interesting show that takes several strange risks that might not be for everyone but that’s okay. It’s extremely dry, sarcastic and witty which are all things that have no place in Corporate America and yet form a perfect union with it set within the show’s premise. Its success will be predicated on how well Comedy Central chooses to market and promote it and I hope that it is received well by the masses. If you can empathize with the ongoing struggle of finding the perfect place to nap at work, getting lectured about email protocol, sitting through head-grinding powerpoints about nothing, understanding what a “Social Media Guru” does, and the unspoken art form of identifying how to get the easiest food at work, then this show is crafted specifically for you, however, if you do not understand or care about any of these concepts you will still be able to laugh at a clever new comedy that strives at taking the overdone “work comedy” premise and showing it from a pitch-black perspective.
I give Corporate an A-.