What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Betas is a clever sitcom set in a Silicon Valley start-up largely inhabited by young, single men, and has a frat-house vibe, with coworkers feeling free to refer to sex and drugs, often graphically. Most of the men on Betas are on the make; women are mostly secondary characters and love interests. The camera often leers at the women on the show, too, panning up their bodies. Some of the characters on Betas care deeply about their work, but mostly as a means for "success" as defined by money and power. Viewers will also hear a lot of rough language: many four-letter words, and a lot of sexual jokes and innuendo. Many scenes also take place in bars, with characters drinking and acting drunk and silly. Characters take prescription drugs not prescribed to them onscreen, and refer to other pharmaceuticals casually, at work.
What's the story?
BETAS' Trey (Joe Dinicol) and Nash (Karan Soni) don't know what they're doing wrong, exactly. They have an innovative idea for a social-media-informed online dating service, but so far, they're still watching jealously as all around them Silicon Valley internet companies strike it rich while their team still struggles. Powerful tech investor Murchison (Ed Begley Jr.) has infused their company with enough cash to get their product going, but it's up to Trey and Nash to steer their new enterprise to success and avoid the bad graces of Murchison's right-hand woman, Lisa (Margo Harshman). Meanwhile, at work, resident old-man-at-35 Hobbes (Jon Daly) is thisclose to not making this month's rent, but spends his free time helping nerdy-but-mighty Mitchell (Charlie Saxton) land a date with foxy coworker Mikki (Maya Erskine), and prank their fellow coworkers, instead of looking for a different job.
Is it any good?
Somebody who worked on Betas must have held down a stint at a Silicon Valley company, because the show gets a lot of things right: man-boys in ironic T-shirts play with Nerf guns while coworkers try desperately to concentrate underneath their headphones. The first thing a recently funded rival startup does upon getting a round of investment capital is buy its exec staff matching shirts, and stride into the local watering hole to offer Jagerbombs to everyone in the house. Note: That startup created an app that automatically finds street parking spaces, always at a premium in Silicon Valley's tech gulches. Yep, Betas gets a lot right.
It's funny, too, not just in a broad-strokes sitcom way, but in its finely drawn characterizations. Nash, the more neurotic of the two buddies who founded Betas' startup, psyches himself up for difficult situations by listening to The Little River Band; Trey is so awkward when approaching a woman at a bar that she calls him an "Aspie." Betas sets interesting characters afloat in a curious milieu that's very much of a particular place and time. It's worth a watch, but parents may want to watch along with teens to counter irresponsible messages as well as the show's sometimes rampant sexism and objectification of women.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about whether Betas is a realistic look at what is like inside a start-up technology company. Do you know anyone who works for a company like this? Do they act like these characters while at work? Do you think Betas' workplace would be a fun place to work? Why or why not?
Have you seen other shows set in offices or workplaces? How is Betas different or the same?
Betas doesn't have a laugh track. Can you think of any shows that do? Why do you think some shows have laugh tracks and others don't?