Quibi, reviewed: We judge Chrissy’s Court, the new Punk’d, and more

Clockwise, from left to right: I Promise; Most Dangerous Game; Chrissy’s Court; Survive; Memory Hole
Clockwise, from left to right: I Promise; Most Dangerous Game; Chrissy’s Court; Survive; Memory Hole
Photo: Quibi

After numerous trailers and press releases that breathlessly announced the latest outlandish premise for a show, Quibi has finally launched with a full lineup of “quick bites.” (Yes, that’s what Quibi is short for.) Quibi creator Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman envisioned a different kind of pivot to video, cutting down episode runtimes so they could be consumed while running errands or after finding a moment’s peace. For Quibi, the second screen is the only screen, as scripted shows have been optimized for your phone, not your laptop or TV. Their plan was to take up less space in a crowded streaming landscape—instead of taking four to 13 hours to finish a new season, you could wander down the Memory Hole or learn what the Most Dangerous Game is in under two hours.

Of course, this was before a pandemic drove us all indoors: Now Quibi and its compact offerings are essentially on the same playing field as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Video, Apple TV+, and fellow purveyors of short-form video YouTube and TikTok. The launch slate for this upstart startup is quite diverse, including unscripted series (game shows, dating shows), documentaries, and scripted series confoundingly branded “Movies In Chapters”—programming that boasts marquee creators including Chrissy Teigen, LeBron James, Jennifer Lopez, and Lena Waithe. The A.V. Club staff logged a lot of screen time on their smartphones to review all the non-daily news shows Quibi offers at launch, and narrow down what’s worth your increasingly abundant free time (look for this icon 📱 for your best options).

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2 / 25

Survive (scripted)

Survive (scripted)

Survive (scripted)

Sophie Turner stars as a young woman freshly checked out of an inpatient facility whose plans to end it all on a cross-country flight are interrupted by a dramatic plane crash in Survive, written by newcomer Richard Abate and Ride’s Jeremy Ungar. Our protagonist’s violent—and not exactly believable—jolt out of her suicidal fog is typical of this overwrought, overwritten, and over-directed story, which overcompensates for the reduced screen size of a Quibi series with in-your-face stylization and inflated performances even before Jane (Turner) loses her balance (and her handful of pills) amid intense turbulence on her flight home to see her mother for Christmas. Combining 13 Reasons Why-style mental health exploitation with an Alive-esque survival adventure is a unique blend, at least, but as both Turner and co-star Corey Hawkins spend multiple chapters of this 100-minute story waving their arms and screaming at each other atop a snowy peak in an unidentified mountain range, you can’t help but ask—shouldn’t they just turn on their cell phones and see if they get a signal? [Katie Rife]

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3 / 25

Most Dangerous Game (scripted) 📱

Most Dangerous Game (scripted) 📱

Most Dangerous Game (scripted) 📱

The wealthy are the villains of any take on Richard Connell’s famous 1924 short story about a big-game hunter who slides into the crosshairs of an aristocrat hankering to hunt him. But there’s a particular contempt for the 1% in this latest adaptation, wherein the game is arranged and funded by a fat cat (Christoph Waltz, doing his puckishly civil Christoph Waltz thing) who fancies himself a philanthropist, throwing huge sums of money at any desperate soul willing to make themselves the quarry in a 24-hour manhunt. His latest mark: an expectant father (Liam Hemsworth) who’s broke and terminally ill. Confidently directed by veteran TV helmsman Phil Abraham (The Sopranos, Daredevil), Most Dangerous Game relocates the action from a remote island to all of Detroit, though there’s not even a little of said action in the first four chapters, which overly belabor our hero’s woe-is-me backstory. That the project opens with Waltz’s Muskian mogul making his dark offer, then flashes back to deliver needlessly protracted exposition, feels like a byproduct of the format; unlike a proper movie, this Game has to hook low attention spans immediately, lest viewers switch away after one bite-sized installment. Still, the setup seems to promise a topically outraged upgrade of what’s been called “the most popular short story ever written in English.” The hunter’s bait this time is help with prohibitively high medical costs—proof that the tale’s class outrage is as timeless as its urgent premise. [A.A. Dowd]

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4 / 25

Flipped (scripted) 📱

Flipped (scripted) 📱

Flipped (scripted) 📱

In terms of longform scripted storytelling—formerly known as “filmmaking”—comedy seems to be a better fit for the Quibi model than drama. At least, that’s true for Funny Or Die’s contribution to the launch, the funny, diverting Caitlin Olson-Will Forte comedy Flipped. Olson and Forte are in peak form as Cricket and Jann, delusional dreamers convinced of their own genius (is there any other kind?) who impulsively decide to buy a $3,000 cabin in the middle of nowhere and fix it up as an audition for their own house-flipping show, Flip It And Gone With Cricket And Jann. (It’s pronounced “Jawn,” so it rhymes, you see.) The screen-comedy formula of cascading mishaps dovetails nicely with Quibi’s chapter-based format, allowing each consecutive cliffhanger to unfold in a relatively natural fashion. But although the story takes multiple turns, one thing that remains consistent throughout Flipped is Olson and Forte’s surprisingly sweet dynamic, playing a married couple whose constant mutual affirmations are affectionate, but not exactly helpful as they cluelessly bumble their way into a folie a deux of criminal proportions. [Katie Rife]

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5 / 25

When The Streetlights Go On (scripted)

When The Streetlights Go On (scripted)

Illustration for article titled Quibi, reviewed: We judge iChrissy/i’is Court/i, the new iPunk/i’id/i, and more
Photo: Quibi

When The Streetlights Go On (scripted)

In the second chapter of When The Street Lights Go On, teenage Charlie Chambers (Chosen Jacobs) leaps into a swimming pool, striking the same underwater pose as the baby on the Nevermind album cover. It’s not the first Nirvana reference in Quibi’s self-consciously retro murder mystery, and far from the only loud reminder that the story is set in 1995—in the same scene alone, we get an Ace Of Base needle drop and a group of high-school freshmen discussing the persistent rumor that Marilyn Manson had ribs removed to blow himself. Like the recent two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s It, which also costarred Jacobs, this is a flashback to formative childhood horror: Via overwritten voice-over narration, a grown Charlie reflects on the summer his sleepy Illinois hometown was rocked by the murder of a classmate (Nicola Peltz) and the teacher (Mark Duplass) with whom she was having an affair. At least judging from the first three installments, the history he’s recounting is less interesting that of the project itself, which began life as a Black Listed feature screenplay by AFI students Chris Hutton and Eddie O’Keefe, before getting adapted into a Hulu pilot that didn’t go to series and then finally being reconceived as one of this streaming platform’s “movies in chapters.” Beyond some melancholic mood and a few amusing crime-procedural clichés (like Queen Latifah, as the lead detective, studying a caulk board adorned with the absolute basics of the case), Street Lights so far offers little more than period signifiers, some more anachronistic than others. (What high-school classroom had laptops in ’95?) Still, it does recall a like-minded whodunit of the era in at least one respect: Like Twin Peaks, this is a TV show that’s getting inexplicably categorized as cinema. [A.A. Dowd]

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6 / 25

I Promise (documentary) 📱

I Promise (documentary) 📱

I Promise (documentary) 📱

I Promise quickly establishes that its subject and mission are one and the same—to show kids who have been underserved by the public school system in Akron, Ohio that someone cares about them, and about their education. A sense of investment fills each 7-8 minute installment of the series (five of which were available for review), which follows the faculty and student body in their first academic year together. The staff, including executive director Michele Campbell, are obviously committed to the children under their tutelage, third and fourth graders like the soulful little Nate, who’s seen more tragedy in his short life than anyone ever should, and Scout, who bravely tries to keep her ailing mom in high spirits even as she struggles with school. LeBron James, the founder of the I Promise public school and a producer on the docuseries, lends more than a little star power to the proceedings. But this is no vanity project. The focus is on the students, their families, and their teachers, who work together to honor the school’s philosophy: a pledge of self-improvement. With its abbreviated runtime and sprawling subject matter, I Promise is essentially a condensed America To Me, Steve James’ epic yet poignant docuseries for Starz. I Promise even has its own blue-chip documentarian in Marc Levin, a Peabody and Emmy-winning director/producer who’s known for his collaborations with Bill Moyers and Daphne Pinkerson. [Danette Chavez]

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7 / 25

&Music (documentary) 📱

&Music (documentary) 📱

&Music (documentary) 📱

&Music, the creative-centered docuseries from Michael D. Ratner’s OBB Pictures and Scooter Braun and JD Roth’s GoodStory Entertainment, potentially makes the best use of Quibi’s short-form design by spotlighting stories that are compelling enough for a brief watch, but not exactly meaty enough for a full-length effort. Blending storytelling with animation and impressive cinematography, &Music celebrates the often unsung artistry that the industry leans on to elevate the music. The episode “Light” peeks into the illuminating brilliance of Gabe Fraboni, the light director for Dutch DJ Martin Garrix. What could easily devolve into a tedious mish-mash of technical terminology and ego thankfully pivots into something a little more gripping, weaving striking imagery and vulnerable anecdotes with informative shop talk. &Music aims to highlight the many moving parts of the artistry that we gleefully consume, respectfully allowing the widely heralded talent to fade into the background while the professionals hired to make them look exceptional are allowed their spotlight. If you’ve ever attended a concert or streamed your favorite music video on repeat, this quick-shot documentary is a fascinating tribute to the village behind the star. [Shannon Miller]

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8 / 25

NightGowns (documentary) 📱

NightGowns (documentary) 📱

NightGowns (documentary) 📱

Even the most dedicated RuPaul’s Drag Race fans speak in hushed tones about a future of the show not hosted by its titular queen, imagining what shape the competition would take under the tutelage of a new, omnipotent drag superstar. With Quibi’s hybrid documentary/performance series NightGowns, we see a vision of a hypothetical “Sasha Velour’s Drag Race,” and it’s more theatrical, more compassionate, and a hell of a lot more inclusive. After forever changing the way we think about “RuVeals” (and rose petals, for that matter), Velour went on to snatch the crown in Drag Race’s ninth season, then used the platform to revitalize her monthly drag show, bringing it to a bigger stage than ever before. The eight-part NightGowns follows the production of Velour’s forward-thinking drag revue of the same name, each entry culminating in show-stopping lip syncs, employing practical effects and other old-school theater tricks. These numbers alone make the series worth watching, even for the more casual drag fan. Notably, NightGowns is not a competition, but it introduces us to a cast of diverse, boundary-pushing performers, each taking the spotlight for an episode. As the de facto host, Sasha Velour is no catchphrase-spouting ham—instead, she’s a calming, intuitive presence who engenders a supportive environment for her performers and audience alike. Throughout the series, Velour emphasizes that drag is all about transformation, and NightGowns serves as a necessary reminder that, by thinking outside the Drag Race box, a true drag superstar can come from anywhere. [Cameron Scheetz]

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9 / 25

You Ain’t Got These (documentary) 📱

You Ain’t Got These (documentary) 📱

You Ain’t Got These (documentary) 📱

Sneaker culture can seem a little impenetrable to those who don’t get it. Shoes are shoes to some people, and collecting them is much more expensive—and takes up much more space—than most other collections. Lena Waithe’s You Ain’t Got These acts as an introduction to sneaker culture and a history lesson for how we went from Michael Jordan signing a first-of-its-kind endorsement deal with Nike to sneakers (as the docuseries argues) becoming the one thing that can unite “the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor.” The episodes move with an exciting snappiness, quickly hopping between retro sneaker commercials, conversations between Waithe and important figures from sneaker culture (like Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons), and talking head interviews, and it’s interesting to follow the path of how sneaker culture influenced culture in general (like through the rise and mainstream acceptance of rap music). The issue comes from the Quibi format, which keeps You Ain’t Got These from letting its story breathe. The show makes a convincing case that sneaker culture is important, but chopping it into chunks makes it feel unnecessarily disjointed. It may not be in the spirit of Quibi to watch the whole season in a single sitting, but that seems like the best way to experience You Ain’t Got These (preferably while also wearing an extremely expensive pair of Air Jordans). [Sam Barsanti]

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10 / 25

Prodigy (documentary)

Prodigy (documentary)

Prodigy (documentary)

Sometimes, Quibi’s extremely expensive attempt at reinventing the wheel follows patterns of past wheels that would’ve been better off discarded. For example: The Megan Rapinoe-fronted prologues of Prodigy, which stifle the off-the-cuff charisma of the World Cup champion’s social-media posts and stick her in the role of host on a show that doesn’t need one. There’s no such framework on the artfully photographed mini-documentaries production company Park Stories made before Prodigy; those shorts are a clear precursor to this Quibi series, which focuses on gifted young athletes in a format and tone that wouldn’t feel out of place in a pregame of halftime package. (There’s those old wheels again.) While covering a wide world of sports in flashy, Instagram-ready flourishes, the individual spotlights shone on top basketball prospect Jalen Green, Olympic gold medal snowboarder Red Gerard, and boxing scion Chantel Navarro eventually bleed together in a broad wash of family snapshots, inspirational soundtrack cues, and overcome adversities. The most thrilling footage in Prodigy speaks in the visceral language of streetball mixtapes and skateboarding videos, feats of athletic prowess that don’t need the window-dressing or superstar endorsements to make jaws drop. [Erik Adams]

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11 / 25

Run This City (documentary) 📱

Run This City (documentary) 📱

Run This City (documentary) 📱

At first, Run This City looks almost like a more earnest version of The Colbert Report’s old “Better Know Your District” segment, taking a lighthearted look at the novelty of Fall River, Massachusetts, electing a mayor only 23 years old. But before the first installment is over, the true Dateline-esque story is revealed: A sprawling tale of corruption and small-town scandal, with Jasiel Correia, the charismatic young man who pulled off that election upset, indicted on charges of fraud and extortion. Over the course of the first three episodes, the structure and framing of the stranger-than-fiction tale traces a methodical course through the timeline of events, and a refusal to take sides—at least in the early going—between Correia and his political opponents, despite the clear sense that all doesn’t appear to be right with the too-good-to-be-true story of his golden-boy bona fides. It’s compelling material, and expertly assembled by documentarian Brent Hodge, who brings the same deft and breezily appealing touch he’s applied in films like I Am Chris Farley and A Brony Tale. Plus, the real ending has yet to be written: Correia is set to go to trial in May. [Alex McLevy]

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12 / 25

Shape Of Pasta (documentary) 📱

Shape Of Pasta (documentary) 📱

Shape Of Pasta (documentary) 📱

We’ll say this for Quibi’s offerings—by and large (though not when it comes to runtimes) the series titles are some of the most straightforward we’ve seen, while still being somewhat evocative (Skrrt With Offset is what it is). Shape Of Pasta, chef Evan Funke’s streaming sojourn across Italy, is among the many Quibi shows that lives up to its name. It’s quite simple: The founder of Felix Trattoria sets off in search of the most unique shapes of pasta, learning the secrets of six female pasta masters in small Italian towns. The pastas all have great names—strangulet, anyone?—and are steeped in centuries-old traditions, though the truncated format makes it difficult for viewers at home to pick up much beyond a touching anecdote. That makes the series more travelogue than a guide to recreating these whimsical shapes on your own, with the softspoken Funke genially chatting up nonnas all over the Italian countryside. But though it’s not the most filling food show, Shape Of Pasta does see Funke follow in the late Anthony Bourdain’s footsteps with his commitment to showcasing the people, cuisine, and culture he’s learning from. So, buon appetito. [Danette Chavez]

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13 / 25

Fierce Queens (documentary) 📱

Fierce Queens (documentary) 📱

Fierce Queens (documentary) 📱

No, you will not find a bevy of impeccably painted, lip-syncing drag queens here, contrary to what the show’s title might insinuate. Fierce Queens is a nature documentary with a feminist slant, taking a special look at the frequently pigeon-holed matriarchal faction of the animal kingdom. Narrated by a reverent Reese Witherspoon, the Planet Earth-style series implements all of the most hair-raising parts of nature chronicles—Murder! Power struggles! Ruthless exiles!—to erase the inherently patriarchal tone found in many programs within the genre. The quick look is a suitable supplement to your favorite nature doc, showing these creatures not only as community nurturers, but as hunters, fighters, and leaders. As a standalone project, the truncated format dictated by the platform might actually be a disservice here as viewers won’t be able to get the full scope of how these animals function within their societies. But as a source of some intense moments of cunning survival underlined with some very relatable subtext about gender politics, Fierce Queens offers inspiring and authentically interesting examples of perseverance and innate skill. [Shannon Miller]

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14 / 25

Chrissy’s Court (unscripted)

Chrissy’s Court (unscripted)

Chrissy’s Court (unscripted)

A Peoples’ Court-style show hosted by someone with more opinions than legal know-how, Chrissy’s Court puts internet darling Chrissy Teigen on the judge’s bench. Clad in zhuzhed up robes and an array of crown-like headbands in the three screeners available for review, Teigen presides over everything from a case involving damaged property to a romantic quibble involving two different Lizzo-inspired “that bitch” sweatshirts. While the banter between Teigen and her mom, who acts as bailiff, is charming, each six-minute episode somehow manages to drag, in part because of the clunky banter between Teigen and the participants, some of whom are clearly just there because Teigen is. (The court is also completely silent, which leaves you longing for some kind of musical bed or something.) While Teigen clearly took this role because she has strong opinions, the cases she’s tasked with solving on Chrissy’s Court often have no good outcome, leaving Teigen to attempt to come up with some sort of compromise rather than a sweeping, Judge Judy-style proclamation. True believers in the cult of Chrissy Teigen will find much to love on Chrissy’s Court simply because Teigen is there, but more casual fans may come away with more of a shrug. [Marah Eakin]

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15 / 25

Dishmantled (unscripted)

Dishmantled (unscripted)

Dishmantled (unscripted)

One part Chopped and one part Double Dare, each episode of Tituss Burgess’ Dishmantled opens with a demonstration of its gleefully idiotic premise: Put two chefs in a tube, blindfold them, and then fire a set of high-pressure “food cannons” loaded with a mystery dish directly into their faces. Each contestant then has 30 minutes to recreate the Jackson Pollack’ed meal in question, going off nothing but the taste and texture of whatever they can scrape off the floor, the walls, and themselves, in pursuit of a $5,000 prize. True to how that sounds, the first 60 seconds of every episode of the series are borderline perfect, because it’s fun to watch people get blasted in the guts with pasta. The problem with Dishmantled is that it’s all, almost by necessity, downhill from there, a fact that isn’t helped by the fact that it’s trying to be two pretty different shows simultaneously—a booze-and-joke-heavy party series serving as a vehicle for Burgess’ effusive personality, and a legitimately interesting cooking challenge where chefs try to recreate a meal based entirely on taste. (They don’t cook in the food-splattered jumpsuits, which feels like a waste.) The real mistake is in giving neither of these sub-shows sufficient time to breathe, although the comedy elements tend to do a little better, at least in part because guest hosts like Dan Levy and Jane Krakowski are on hand to inject a little extra energy. Sadly, Dishmantled really doesn’t have much to offer beyond its initial spectacle—but oh, what a spectacle it is. [William Hughes]

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16 / 25

Gayme Show! (unscripted)

Gayme Show! (unscripted)

Gayme Show! (unscripted)

A wildly quick moving game show hosted by Las Culturistas’ host Matt Rogers and comedian Dave Mizzoni, Gayme Show endeavors to test two straight comedians’ knowledge of all things stereotypically gay, from fragrances to dramatic entrances, not unlike RuPaul’s Gay For Play. It’s all very improv-friendly and tongue-in-cheek, with the contestants tasked with valuing “gay artifacts” like the world’s first vodka tonic or determining whether saying someone is “a colonial times reinactress” means they’re more like Cynthia Nixon or Ellen Pompeo. The contestants are assisted (and later judged) by a gay person or ally (among them, Joel Kim Booster, Nicole Byer, and Ilana Glazer), and points are awarded seemingly at random, à la @Midnight. The show’s wit and writing make for some funny moments, but based on what we’ve seen, each six-minute episode’s flow ultimately rides on the gameness of the straight contestants. When Demi Adejuyigbe is tasked with making an entrance and pulls out a full Chicago-style, Minnelli-infused bump and grind, it’s clear that he’s taking the gag of the joke seriously. His opponent, Broad City’s John Gemberling, on the other hand, dons a boa and a sequined fedora then immediately starts humping the floor. In short: If you like the featured guests, you’ll like the individual episodes. If you don’t, spend those precious six minutes doing something else. [Marah Eakin]

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17 / 25

Gone Mental With Lior (unscripted) 📱

Gone Mental With Lior (unscripted) 📱

Illustration for article titled Quibi, reviewed: We judge iChrissy/i’is Court/i, the new iPunk/i’id/i, and more
Photo: Quibi

Gone Mental With Lior (unscripted) 📱

There’s a natural “how’d he do dat?” factor at play with Going Mental With Lior—and not just because Tony Wonder himself is one of the show’s first guests. This showcase for mentalist Lior Suchard puts the viewer in the shoes of the actors, musicians, and wrestlers whose minds Suchard is messing with, his methods of anticipating the Star Trek character named by Ben Stiller or correctly guessing the number of coins in Ludacris’ hands as beguiling as they’d be in person. They also present a challenge to the Turnstyle tech—watch the Stiller episode in the horizontal crop rather than a vertical, and the seeds Suchard plants are much more apparent, if only because there’s a greater amount of visual information on display. Along with some awkwardly drawn out reveals, this sets up a chance for some of the mystique to drain out of Suchard’s schtick. But while it hasn’t yet produced any reactions on the level of Harrison Ford saying “Get the fuck out of my house” to David Blaine, Going Mental does at least prompt an amusing bit of befuddlement from the MC and Fast And Furious star otherwise known as Chris Bridges: At the end of one routine, Ludacris actually exclaims “This is ludicrous.” [Erik Adams]

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18 / 25

Memory Hole (unscripted)

Memory Hole (unscripted)

Illustration for article titled Quibi, reviewed: We judge iChrissy/i’is Court/i, the new iPunk/i’id/i, and more
Photo: Quibi

Memory Hole (unscripted)

As we previously noted, Memory Hole evokes VH1’s I Love The… heyday, when funny people would riff on the pop ephemera of yesteryear. Unfortunately, the show’s excavation of “the most cringeworthy events in pop culture” doesn’t dig very deep, and Will Arnett’s lame-duck one-liners are delivered with minimal gusto. But can you blame him? What jokes are even left to make about the “The Super Bowl Shuffle” and the athlete-pop movement it spawned? Or 1985’s Gymkata, the gymnastics-action flop people (including us) have been dunking on for the last decade? More novel, perhaps, is an episode on a 1989 spectacular celebrating the opening of Toronto’s SkyDome, which featured Alan Thicke, SCTV’s Andrea Martin, and songs about the stadium’s retractable roof. It’s lame, sure, but only insofar as the ’80s themselves—the fashion, the music, the pageantry—can’t help but look lame through our current lens. There’s a thin line between “lame” and “cringe,” after all; lameness, like all of these topics, looks quaint in retrospect, while cringe tends to point towards a more fundamental disconnect, like the one inherent to Gal Gadot’s “Imagine” singalong. Try harder, guys. [Randall Colburn]

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19 / 25

Murder House Flip (unscripted)

Murder House Flip (unscripted)

Murder House Flip (unscripted)

For a couple of precious minutes, it feels like Murder House Flip might fly exactly as wildly out of the bounds of good taste as its name—and premise, which is exactly what you’re imagining it is—would joyfully imply. There’s nothing quite like seeing HGTV-style graphics be applied to, say, showing exactly where in the yard of a charming little Sacramento Victorian-style that seven human beings were buried, or in watching socially inept hosts/designers Mikel Welch and Joelle Uzyel give talking heads where they say things like “It’s hard to believe such a normal couple would live in a murder house.” (Kudos to the show’s production team, by the way, for finding murder house owners Barbara and Tom, a pair of retired homeowners who manage to be infinitely more charming than the ostensible “stars” of the series.) Tragically, though, the “House Flip” portion of the title eventually wins out over the murder parts, as the series swiftly settles into the rhythms of any given home renovation show—albeit one where the on-camera talent occasionally goes, “Ooh, spooky,” or cracks a joke about dismembered torsos. The three-episode arc presented for review (covering one single flipping project) is roughly one part true-crime to two parts renovation, and that’s a proportion that could certainly stand to be flipped itself. (Also: You do all that work on the yard, and then don’t even replace the floors in the room where all the bodies were stored? C’mon!) [William Hughes]

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20 / 25

Nikki Fre$h (unscripted)

Nikki Fre$h (unscripted)

Nikki Fre$h (unscripted)

Fans of The Simple Life or Candidly Nicole may like Nikki Fre$h, a faux-reality series that finds Nicole Richie endeavoring into the world of “Parent Trap,” or trap music for people who love the environment and are at their best at 9 a.m. On the series, Richie convinces real-life husband Joel Madden and his brother, Good Charlotte co-founder Benji Madden, to invest in making her blend of Goop and rapping a reality, with each individual episode both furthering the joke and providing viewers with a fresh Fre$h video. The videos are the best part of the whole affair, with Richie looking flawless in oversized styling and makeup, spouting songs that even avowed trap-heads might find themselves bopping to just a bit. The rest of Nikki Fre$h is rote and unfunny, with gags like Richie and her “assistant” focus-testing Crystal Granola and leafy tampons at an upscale grocery store landing with a resounding thud. Just catch the music videos separately later, as there’s supposedly an accompanying Nikki Fre$h album on the horizon as well. [Marah Eakin]

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21 / 25

Punk’d (unscripted) 📱

Punk’d (unscripted) 📱

Punk’d (unscripted) 📱

Punk’d is Punk’d. It’s a hidden-camera prank show with a bit of MTV edge and celebrity targets, so there’s really only so much the transition to Quibi can change about the formula—especially when it’s already easy to condense a prank into short clips that you watch on your phone. That means the appeal of this version of the show is largely dependent on new host Chance The Rapper and his celebrity targets. Thankfully, Chance seems particularly well-suited to the kind of good-natured fooling that Punk’d was made for—at least while the fooling remains good-natured. Chance clearly feels really bad when Sabrina Carpenter starts bawling at the sight of workers in hazmat suits taking stuff out of her “rat infested” home, which does make it all a little less fun (though, to be fair, Carpenter waited about 30 seconds before throwing her siblings under the bus when she was told her house was filled with mutant rats). In other episodes, where Chance and the Punk’d team are able to orchestrate wackier scenarios, it’s much more entertaining to see the thin shield of artificiality that celebrities surround themselves with come crashing down, like when Megan Thee Stallion is clearly willing to let her friend get killed by a gorilla if it means getting her dog back. As long as Chance is laughing, it’s a good time. [Sam Barsanti]

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22 / 25

Singled Out (unscripted) 📱

Singled Out (unscripted) 📱

Singled Out (unscripted) 📱

Singled Out feels like such a relic of the ’90s—Jenny McCarthy, bowl cuts—but all it took was a few tweaks to make it feel modern, especially in our current renaissance of high-concept dating shows. Like the most recent season of MTV’s Are You The One?, Quibi’s Singled Out reboot encompasses all genders and sexual preferences, with the first few episodes highlighting queer daters—including bisexual women with both men and women in their dating pool—and even a drag queen in full regalia. The game remains gloriously dumb and comically horny—there’s a “vibrator race” at one point, for reasons we can’t recall—but innovates by flooding the dating pool with people that are linked in some way to the dater’s social media, resulting in some sweet moments of recognition once a match has been made. It’s a lot to consume in seven minutes, and the accelerated episodes mean that there’s not much space for hosts Keke Palmer and Joel Kim Booster to make the kind of oddball connection McCarthy and Chris Hardwick forged on the original series. But it nevertheless feels like exactly the kind of familiar, digestible, and high-energy content Quibi set out to make. [Randall Colburn]

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23 / 25

Thanks A Million (unscripted)

Thanks A Million (unscripted)

Thanks A Million (unscripted)

If a karaoke rendition of “Imagine” is the low bar for celebrity charity these days, then you can at least say that Thanks A Million clears that hurdle—though not by much. In each episode of the unscripted series, a celebrity gives $100,000 to someone who positively impacted their life. The catch: The surprised beneficiary has to pay it forward, giving someone else half of their money, who then passes half on to yet another honoree. So, if you’re tuning in for the endorphin-releasing moment when someone tears up at the sight of cash, you’re in luck—Thanks A Million has plenty of that. It’d take a freezer-burnt heart to not feel moved when, say, a mother and her daughter with cerebral palsy give $50,000 to a friend who selflessly volunteers his time to help them out. But, if you’re tuning in to see celebrities make good by giving back to the community, the show offers meager returns. In a move that only underscores just how little these famous folks are sacrificing, they don’t even stick around to watch their windfall recipients pass it on. No, after their work is done, stars like Jennifer Lopez and Nick Jonas are only seen in brief “talking head” shots, offering up generic platitudes about giving back. And then, most frustrating of all, Thanks A Million ends abruptly, denying viewers the warm-hug satisfaction of knowing the money improved anyone’s lives. Like Pay It Forward, it’s another excuse for Hollywood to pat its own back. [Cameron Scheetz]

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The Sauce (unscripted) 📱

The Sauce (unscripted) 📱

The Sauce (unscripted) 📱

Hosted by Atlanta-based siblings Ayo and Teo, The Sauce packages a street dance competition series in a way that feels completely authentic to the community it’s trying to represent. The season is organized like a bracket, with the first four episodes pitting two local teams against each other in Miami, Memphis, Atlanta, and New York City. Ayo and Teo serve as judges alongside a local street dance star, choosing which teams advance to the semifinals in Southern California and then the finale where they’ll dance for executive producer Usher and a $25,000 prize. The Sauce strikes a good balance between educating those of us unfamiliar with terms like juking, lightfoot, or flexing and presenting high-energy routines that will leave even street dance experts marveling at the acrobatic feats and footwork. The seven-minute episodes could use a little more room to breathe and the music video-style editing—while visually exciting—can make it difficult to catch an entire routine, even when viewing while holding your phone horizontally. But The Sauce is worth dipping into (sorry, had to) for at least an episode. [Patrick Gomez]

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