A few years ago, the common thought was that the model for original entertainment on Netflix wasn’t going to work. After all, how could a DVD rental and streaming service be able to compete with the high budgets and production values of the the major networks? No advertising revenue, an entire season available instantly, niche programs that don’t conform to traditional television; it all sounds like ingredients for a big failure cocktail…and then House of Cards debuted. But of course, that could have been a fluke. Orange is the New Black answered that question. In fact, time after time, for the most part Netflix has defied the naysayers. Sure, there’s been the occasional stinkburger; as much as I loved Marco Polo, it certainly had its detractors. While All Hail King Julien was out winning Emmys, I was considering self-immolation while marathoning their take onInspector Gadget, and don’t even begin to get me started on DouchieRichie Rich, now in its second season. But generally speaking, Netflix has been putting out quality entertainment that has defied all expectations. Hell, just look at Daredevil for some of the best television programming since Battlestar Galactica.
I had first seen the previews for Between a few weeks ago, and while they were a bit underwhelming, I was still interested. As I sat on my couch recovering from sinus surgery, bored from the seemingly endless uninspired television, I was happy to see Between show up on my Netflix display. Finally, some potentially interesting genre television that I could binge the day away with all while accompanied by painkillers and seemingly endless frozen confections to numb the pain in my face away.
Sadly, I was terribly mistaken. SPOILERS ensue…
Based on the forty-four painful minutes of Between available to me, I can safely say that this series is the biggest mistake Netflix has made thus far. This festering pile of cliched shit takes good, or at least halfway decent genre examples, and merges them together to form this unholy Frankenstein of a series which, I can only hope, doesn’t last more than the already produced six episodes. It’s a John Hughes movie, The Andromeda Strain, The Tribe and a dozen other genres, formed into a food fit for the end of a Human Centipede. No amount of prescription painkillers or alcohol could make me enjoy this program. Want to know why? I’ll explain it all, with 22 reasons why I can’t stand Between.
1. The Only Thing You’ll Be Binging Is Alcohol
Since the inception of original programming on Netflix, and really since Netflix streaming became the norm, it’s been all about the binge. Want to see what happens to Francis Underwood after his latest despicable act? Just hit continue (unless of course you reached the end of the season, you poor bastard)! Hell, who needs bathing, or fresh groceries when you can just order a pizza and watch an entire season of a program in a day. Which a show as short as Between, you could crank out those six episodes in an evening without even skipping a meal (if you were masochistic enough).
But wait…what’s this? Between is Netflix’s first weekly series. Sorry kids, you can’t just contain your torture to a single day. If you want to find out what happens to Wiley, MIT nerd, the douchebag twins and every other resident of Pretty Lake, you’ll have to tune in every week for your medicine. It goes against everything we’ve been led to believe in regarding the Netflix model, and while it was likely a contractual obligation (the series is running on terrestrial TV in Canada hours before becoming available on Netflix), it’s a poor one. After all, after most people tune in to the first episode, they won’t be returning for the final five. At least you could theoretically convince people to give episode two a shot if it were readily available.
2. Wiley Coyote
So after the mysterious scene in which a young man approaches the quarantine fence line, we flash back to day one of the crisis and meet Wiley, likely our main character in that she’s played by Jennette McCurdy, the only actress used for any Between promotional content and the only one I recognize. We’re greeted by her pregnant belly as she walks through the halls of her high school, unwrapping a cheeseburger that looks too nice for any high school cafeteria I’ve ever seen.
As the father of multiple fans of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, I’ve become quite familiar with the acting exploits of McCurdy, so I feel I can safely say that she’s essentially playing the same character she’s played on every other program. Equipped with only an extremely dry wit, she’s a rebellious teen whom I already can’t stand only two minutes into the program. She’s a walking cliche. Smartass teen I can handle. Pregnant smartass teen I can still handle. But did they have to go all out and make her the smartass, pregnant-teen, minister’s daughter? This is like Fast Times, iCarly and Footloose all rolled into one with special guest star Death…and I’m rooting for Death.
One other thing; maybe I’ve just never meet someone with the name Wiley, but every time she is mentioned, I instantly think of a particular roadrunner-hungry Coyote. Even if she weren’t a walking John Hughes film, I still wouldn’t be able to take her seriously…I’d be constantly wondering when her ACME Rocket Cycle would show up.
3. Enter the Douchebags
Driving down the road erratically in his brand new Dodge Charger, we meet the obvious rich high school douchebag. He fits the profile perfectly; asshat in a letterman jacket, swerving up and down the road in a car purchased by his father, with a completely fake “Shit Eating Grin” on his face and fake dubstep on the radio. I’m guessing he will be a villain.
Next we see a pair of young men on the side of the road changing a flat. The apparently younger one is bitching about being late to school, though he is expending absolutely zero effort in changing said tire. Sorry, if you want to moan about being late, put down your frakking phone and help change the tire. The man doing all the work points out that the whiny one is this show’s version of The Breakfast Club‘s Bender, the local drug dealer, and that he’s the pride of the family. I guess these two are brothers.
Wait…uh oh…it looks like the rich douchebags and the working class/drug dealing douchebags are on the same road. A minor fender bender and leaving the scene of an accident will likely cause some conflict later on. Perhaps someone should call the police.
4. Hot for Teacher
It was established in the first few minutes that Adam, the nerdy guy trying to get Wiley to skip class in the opening seconds of the show, is smart. In under six minutes, they’ve mentioned him being MIT-bound twice, once by Ms. Coyote, and now by the cute and extremely young English teacher who is obviously hitting on him by giving him a book for when “the regular curriculum” gets too boring. It’s a book she wrote about during her Master’s, but she’s quick to mention that she’s still only 21 years old.
I know where they are going with this. Forbidden love, not too forbidden to lose the audience, but for God’s sake, do the math. While she didn’t specifically say she’d earned her Master’s, she’s obviously completed her Bachelor’s degree. Sure, it’s mathematically possible, if she skipped a grade or two, did a hell of a lot of summer/winter sessions etc. But possible or not, it’s still kinda gross to think that a teacher is hitting on her prized pupil, no matter how close they are in age.
5. Class Warfare
So only moments later, the working class guy has managed to track down the location of the car that struck his pickup and we meet what is obviously a whole family of villains, sitting on the porch of their home, dressed far too nicely for idle conversation. The father, dressed in his Sunday finest, is an immediate dick to the guy just looking for his car repairs to be paid for. He claims his little boy, now established as Chuck, has a pair of witnesses stating that it was the disabled pickup truck, sitting on the side of the road sans one tire, that actually did the sideswiping. This makes me question the sentience of every single person on that porch right now.
To nameless working class guy: Why didn’t you report the accident to the police when it first happened? Everyone knows, in the case of a hit and run, you call the po-po. If you had, you’d be getting paid, not wondering how you were going to pony up the cash to fix up that asshat’s Charger.
To Chuck: The car wasn’t moving, so how is it even remotely possible that it could have hit you? You whipped in front of a minivan or something in your hurry, so someone other than your two witnesses saw the whole thing and could discredit your entire story.
To Minivan Guy: Dude, it’s your civic duty to report a crime in progress! Hit and run! Why aren’t you on the phone with police? This is why we can’t have nice things!
To Chuck’s Dad: You are noticeably missing a mustache to twirl while dressing down the poor plumber’s apprentice. I get it, you’re rich and above the law.
To Chuck’s Mom: Hey, is that blood on your chin?
6. Hasn’t Anyone Seen ANY Outbreak Film Before?!
Adam, our genius MIT-bound high schooler, decides to visit his uncle at what seems to be a makeshift town morgue. The uncle, we’ll call him Deadmeat since the writers couldn’t be bothered to give him a name that I could hear, is researching the illness, in a room littered with the dead. No refrigeration, no protocols in place to stem the spread of infection, nothing. He’s just working out in the open with not so much as a mask to prevent him from inhaling whatever is killing the old folk of Pretty Lake.
This is the guy the people of Pretty Lake are depending on for salvation? As someone who works by day in a hospital, I know of certain places I wouldn’t dare visit without a mask on. A room full of dead, funky, disease-ridden bodies would have my ass in a full biological containment suit, but this moron obviously hasn’t read The Andromeda Strain.
Adam reveals that he’s been monitoring Uncle Deadmeat’s phone conversations and e-mails – a revelation that while disturbing to most, only makes Uncle DM stress once again that his nephew is a genius, as if that wasn’t established before. Genius? Please! Adam is just as dumb, walking into the Lab of the Dead in street clothes, without any type of protection whatsoever. Sure, the illness might not be airborne, but anyone in their right mind wouldn’t be willing to take that chance.
7. Finally, Rational Thought
In his parting words, Uncle Deadmeat tells his pseudo-genius nephew that he needs to leave town before it’s too late. This is the smartest thing anyone has said thus far in the series. Adam apparently believes his uncle, because he goes home and immediately tries to convince his mom to GTFU.
It’s obvious that Adam gets his brains from his dead geneticist father, because his mom doesn’t see any reason to roll out, even though at this point the bodies are stacking up like firewood. Apparently Mom agrees with me, and instantly pisses him off by comparing him to dear old Dad, but before the argument gets interesting, Mom gets the gurgles and there’s one less adult in the town of Pretty Lake.
8. Hygiene, Anyone?
As the ticker onscreen displays that we’ve entered day five of the crisis, and that the death toll has topped 300 people, we see bodies strewn around the town of Pretty Lake, their lives ended by the mystery disease. There’s been no apparent government action to try and deal with the crisis, so the decaying bodies are left to rot, likely spreading their ickiness to the areas around them. If the illness isn’t airborne, contact based, hell, even if it’s nanobots, it still opens the doors for a massive gastroenteritis to be spread to everyone who survives the first wave.
If that isn’t enough, why, when the Ministry announces the quarantine, does a large group of the population go to city hall to watch the televised announcement? Did the government cut off cable to Pretty Lake? Only a handful of the myriad dumbasses at the town hall had the limited smarts to at least wear a mask, with super-genius teacher in the audience sans any form of protection.
9. Bender Returns From His Bender
Our nameless Bender clone apparently has not had access to any form of communication in the time it’s taken him to leave Pretty Lake to purchase some illegal firearms. I can imagine a certain level of surprise when the road home is blocked by barbed wire and guys with really big guns, but I’d imagine that in a similar situation, I would turn around, pop on the radio, or at least stop to read the signs. Instead, he just sallies forth until stopped by rather scary paramilitary dude, who then searches his car, finding the guns he was so eager to hide before.
10. I Doubt Wiley Can Spell Ramifications
Ms. Coyote is sitting down with a non-judgemental lawyer, blindly signing a relatively thin legal document and stating that she understands what will happen if she were to divulge the father of her baby.
I’m starting to wonder if McCurdy is in fact a Pod Person. In her last scene, she nihilistically rejected her sister’s begging for prayers as the side of her very recently deceased mother. Only a scene or two before, she was kneeling down beside her dead father, and now she’s signing a contract to hand over her impending bundle of joy for money. The writers have done everything they possibly can do to make her unlikable. I’m guessing her next scene will involve her drowning kittens while singing “Everything Is Awesome” at full volume.
11. Let This Play Out
Earlier, we were introduced to another pair of nameless people, this time inmates at the local prison. While things were tense before, it looks like they are escalating quickly. Rather than do their jobs, a pair of prison guards opt to let it play out, allowing one of the guys to get stabbed before the officers pull guns to end the situation.
Isn’t it kind of a bad idea to have gun toting correctional officers walking around in the general population areas of the prison? It sounds like a really easy way for a gun to get in the hands of a potentially bad guy.
12. He Got Over Her Quick
When we next see rich douchebag, he’s remotely monitoring his businesses on the couch of his home with what’s left of his family, his equally douchey son Chuck, and his two daughters, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome, and the other who could possibly be the most rational and emotional person in the show’s cast. She’s a complete and welcome anomaly, and actually breathes life into this dead show for the fifteen seconds she’s in it. She brings up a very valid point that everyone in the cast seems to be neglecting: their loved ones, in this case her mother, are dead, and here is her father, making sure the family fortunes are left intact.
I take back everything I’ve said about the shitty acting from Jennette McCurdy thus far in the show. It’s obviously a directorial choice; everyone needs to act like Big Lebowski Nihilists.
It also feels rather exploitative that the super-rich douchebag family has a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. It’s like the writers sat around in a room looking for an angle that would make people feel even the slightest bit sorry for these rich and obnoxious bastards.
13. I Didn’t Ask for This
In a stunning display of Deus Ex Adam, our future MIT student displays his hacking skills (because everyone who goes to MIT knows how to hack like Zero Cool) and determines that only people twenty two and older are dying of this mystery illness. Instead of calling Uncle Deadmeat, now known as Uncle Dave, to tell him his findings, he goes to the office to find his Uncle as dead as the plot. Adam, despite losing his mother and the only father figure he apparently had, has not shed a single tear; then again, neither has the majority of the rest of the cast.
14. “Here, You’ll Need These”
So the Bender clone, now established as Ronnie, is being released from custody despite trying to cross the quarantine into Pretty Lake with a pair of unlicensed handguns. In the real world, he’d be cooling his heels in county lockup waiting to be indicted on weapons charges, but instead, they are releasing him to his own recognizance…INSIDE THE QUARANTINE ZONE!
Everyone is dying in the town, and this dipshit is walking right back into it. He could have potentially been the only survivor of the outbreak, but for some unknown reason, he is walking back into the shitstorm that is Pretty Lake of his own free will. But wait, just when you thought the plot of this show couldn’t get any worse, the Men in Black GIVE HIM BACK HIS FRAKKING ILLEGAL HANDGUNS.
15. Shift Work
Wiley and Adam make a plan to leave Pretty Lake, because in the time he’s spent “deep in the government computers” he’s discovered they are prepared to let the citizens rot for years if necessary. His grand plan: wait for a shift change and then run, because he happened to see the work schedule for the evil paramilitary force on the computers he hacked into.
So the government can wait four days and do nothing, then erect an electrified fence that completely surrounds the town, but it leaves said fence unguarded to allow for a shift change?
16. It’s a Long Story…One We Would Have Had to Write
Ronnie returns home to his brother with a pair of handguns and a long story, one he seems reluctant to tell. When told he could have called, he responded simply that he couldn’t. And that was the end of any explanations from Ronnie. Just when I thought I’d seen everything, Ronnie gets a brilliant idea: with the fence outside keeping people in, it also keeps others out. He assumes that this is his license to douchebag, and he and his brother decide that since they’re all going to die anyway, they should take this opportunity to act like assholes.
Thus far, his older brother has seemed like the level headed voice of reason…until now. Farewell one of two characters I could actually stand in the twenty-eight minutes I’ve been watching this piece of shit.
Their plan for fun: steal a car…from the rich douchebag family.
17. I Quit
Back at the prison, the fat, disinterested guard hands in his resignation in the form of keys to the aggressive prisoner from the fights earlier, stating “You know where he is.” The corpse of a guard happens to be on the floor outside his cell, service pistol still holstered. I told you it was a bad idea for correctional officers to carry guns.
In a moment of consciousness, the joyriding brothers see a stranded motorist and decide they need to help. Of course, it’s an Admiral Akbar-style trap, and soon the idiots are held at gunpoint by the rich douchebag and his son Chuck, or as we’ve just learned, the Lotts family.
Get it…he’s rich, and he has a car dealership, also called a lot.
Anyway, the Lotts have just ordered the Duke boys to remove their clothes and fired a shotgun “warning shot” at their feet…a move that would have likely peppered both of them with buckshot. They’re about to be tarred and potentially feathered when the only other rational character thus far, the Bill Duke look alike Gord, just happens to walk out of the woods with a shotgun, rescuing the delinquents and taking them to the derelict police station to answer for their crimes.
Wait…didn’t these two asshats just procure a pair of handguns? Why wouldn’t you approach a suspicious accident scene in a seemingly lawless town with your guns drawn? The disease kills the old and apparently leaves only idiots!
19. I Thought Wiley Was a Coyote, Not a Cow
Gord, trying to do the right thing by turning in the wannabe car thieves, is interrupted by Wiley’s still-nameless sister. Wiley’s water broke, and something’s wrong. Rather than try to find medical attention in a town that until recently had a population of over 8,000, she finds a guy who can obviously help because earlier we saw him delivering a cow.
20. I Wanted to Take This Time to Explain My Evil Plan
Back at the prison, the aggressive inmate, now armed with a handgun, visits the cell of his rival. With nowhere to go, this should be a relatively simple execution…just aim and shoot…but that wouldn’t be even remotely dramatic.
This graduate of the Doctor Evil School for Henchmen Ineptitude opens the door to his victim’s cell, pulls him out, hits him a few times, ask for last words, and promptly gets capped by the last surviving prison guard. You had one job, dumbass…
21. Wrong Timetable
In the opening seconds of the show, we saw alarms raised as a person approached the quarantine fence. Revelation time, it was Captain MIT on his grand escape plan. Turns out, he got his schedules mixed up.
Now, when Ronnie wanted to get back into town, the paramilitary forces practically gave him a boxed lunch to go into town. Now Adam gets within 50 feet of the fence and they start popping caps in his ass. Someone need to determine a set of engagement orders before someone gets hurt. The madness ends with his smart (dumb) ass lying on the ground, and we’ll have to wait a week before we find out if he’s alive.
22. The Tribe 2: Electric Boogaloo
There’s already been a foreign show involving everyone over the age of 21 dying due to a mysterious illness, leaving the youth of a city to fend for themselves and rebuild civilization. It was called The Tribe, and even though it was a massive, low budget, poorly acted cheesefest, it was still better than Between. Instead of trying to be remotely believable, it embraced its weird sci-fi roots and lasted five seasons and even led to a spin off. It dealt with serious issues like teenage pregnancy, racism, violence, the separation of the classes and more, and I can take it more seriously than Between. Hell, it had cyborgs, laser guns and virtual reality, and I can take it more seriously than Between. That’s because it had a certain measure of imagination, while Between is just a stale rehash of everything else we’ve already.
A fan of video games and science fiction from the moment he discovered his father's Atari 2600 and Star Wars, Jason Helton has been contributing to The Robot's Voice since 2011. Prior, he wrote for the UK's Den of Geek and was the producer and host of Iron Otaku Radio on XM's UPOP 29 channel. A die-hard fan of Battlestar Galactica (both old and new), Doctor Who, and pinball, you can follow him on Twitter @Razgriz1138.