I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into Comedy Central’s new show Corporate. They’ve been marketing it heavily for the last week or so with all-day The Office marathons, which I spent more time watching than I’d like to admit, but solely based on the trailers I couldn’t tell exactly what this show was going to be. The only thing I knew for sure is that it would be something different. After watching the first episode this morning, I can say definitively that I expect I am going to enjoy this show. Corporate is a satisfying combination of the satirical workplace drama presented by The Office and Workaholics, combined with the surreal humor of shows like Broad City and Detroiters.
The first episode focused on Matt and Jake, two middle managers at the fictional conglomerate Hampton-Deville, who share an office and hate their jobs. Matt and Jake’s superiors are mindless drones who pass off unpleasant tasks, such as firing a social media manager for sending a controversial tweet, to the duo, who they refer to as their “tools,” seemingly unaware of the popular cultural connotation of the word. The tweet in question claimed customers would be #BlownAway by one of the company’s products, with the hashtag being in reference to a recent devastating hurricane. Their first attempt at terminating an employee backfires hilariously as the social media guru, Baron, immediately finds an embarrassing music video from a punk band Jake sang for in college (he also claims to have started the Egyptian revolution). They learn that the tweet was actually sent by another employee, Richard, who thinks people are only upset because they don’t understand his clever pun.
Before they can fire Richard, Matt and Jake are distracted by the cake he’s eating. Richard says he keeps track of all the cakes in the building and leads the pair through all the parties happening that day before retiring to the bathroom to throw up. Reality soon sets in when Matt and Jake’s bosses intervene and fire Richard themselves, prompting him to threaten to jump off the roof of the building. Matt and Jake use their new friend Baron to launch a social media campaign to save Richard, with the end result being that everyone gets to keep their jobs.
For Richard this is a happy ending. He gets to continue tweeting for a living indefinitely. Matt and Jake get to continue being miserable, but decide their jobs are still preferable to killing themselves. Most importantly, Hampton-Deville gets to turn some negative PR into a positive story, leaving them with a positive public image for the shareholders. The executives get to take credit for the hard work of lower-level employees, which represents what this show seems to really be about. Everyone who works at large companies has a life, goals, bills to pay, and maybe a family to go home to, and it’s the job of the other employees not to care. Make the company look good and help them to maximize their profit margins. Will you be rewarded with extra pay or benefits because you saved the company money or improved their image? No, you were just doing your job. Will you at least get credit for your contributions, maybe have your talents acknowledged in some way by your superiors? Of course not. Now get back to work.