Amazon confirms its place in showbiz with second original online TV show
LOS ANGELES: When Amazon decided to join Netflix and Hulu in the online programming race, it didn’t have to look further than its own tech backyard to find a world ripe for comedy.
Betas, starring newcomers Joe Dinicol, Karan Soni and Charlie Saxton as dating app entrepreneurs, explores the hyper-ambition that vibrates among Northern California’s tech-savvy Bay Area’s locals.
Tech entrepreneurs, Dinicol says, “are the ones shaping how human beings interact, and certainly the idea of our show is that they’re not the best at interacting socially so it’s sort of a perfect storm of an environment to have”.
Streaming of the first three episodes starts this week and follows Amazon’s programme Alpha House, a political satire about four Republican senators living together.
Like online streaming and DVD rental company Netflix, Amazon has decided it must move beyond being a distributor of shows made by others to producing top-drawer programming of its own. Netflix made big waves this year with its first original series, House of Cards, a political drama that scored three Emmy wins.
Streaming video company Hulu, owned by Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast, has also been rolling out original programming, most recently comedy series The Wrong Mans, co-produced by the BBC.
Betas executive producer Michael Lehmann said he finds the landscape “exciting, it’s the new Wild West, a new frontier of premium cable with AMC, Netflix, HBO”.
For Ed Begley Jr, who plays Betas playboy dot-com billionaire George “Murch” Murchison, the tech industry has been “underserved in television”.
“It seemed very obvious to us that the world’s out there and no one’s done a show about it. When a world is new – this culture has just exploded recently – there’s a feeling that you can’t do it right when it’s shown up, it almost feels too topical,” said Michael London, another executive producer for the show.
“Now it feels like the culture is deep enough and established enough that we can watch versions on TV.”
After its release on November 15, Alpha House became Amazon’s most-watched TV series over the weekend, the retail giant said.
The comedy portrays four Republican US senators cohabiting a Washington, DC, house while facing various hurdles in an election year. It brings together the star power of actors John Goodman, Clark Johnson and Matt Malloy with the writing of political satirist Garry Trudeau.
Written by Doonesbury cartoonist Trudeau, the series promises to mine current events from both the Republican and Democratic camps for comedy as the fictional senators gear up for election season.
“There’s always going to be gaffes on both sides, and we’re going to throw jabs on both sides,” Johnson said.
“Right now, DC is just banana peels everywhere, people slipping on them, pies in faces.” – Reuters