Quibi Catchup Finds The Stranger, Dummy & More Racing to The Bottom

Quibi continues to trot out its shows with efficient regularity. It's the only thing the streamer has been good at since their "spotlight content" isn't generally that good. As more and more scripted shows premiere, it feels like they're in the middle of a giant race to the bottom. Is there a contest for what the worst show on Quibi is? Because if there is, what follows are some serious contenders for that title.

A scene from The Stranger, courtesy of Quibi.
A scene from The Stranger, courtesy of Quibi.

"The Stranger"

This cut-up movie had a promising premise and an okay start but got worse as it went along. The script feels too much like a film student's attempt at a "clever" thriller. It's full of smug platitudes and speeches about social media tacked onto a predictable and mawkish script where nobody behaves the way people do in real life. Smug cardboard cartoon villain Carl E. (Dean Dehaan) turns out to be real and not a fragment of the heroine's imagination. The script spent so much time setting up the idea that he's not real that of course he was going to turn out to be real. He tells heroine Claire (Maika Monroe) it's her fault he's stalking her because she put so much of her information on social media. The cops are stupid and brutish in cliched ways that don't even feel authentic. Characters have to be stupid in order for the plot to happen.

The story ends with the heroine outsmarting Carl E. in the most anticlimactic way possible. Worse, she monologues to him! There's a reason only bad guys should monologue – it makes them tedious and reinforces how dislikable they are. Gloating monologues should be prohibited from screenwriting altogether. They display an abject failure of imagination. What sinks The Stranger is too much telling and not enough showing and how every plot point is fueled by a plot hole. Director Veena Sud clearly wants to tackle themes about #MeToo, gaslighting, victim-blaming and how women are not believed, but the script undermines them badly.

"When the Streetlights Go On"

This is the only scripted drama that's not terrible on all of Quibi. It's a 1990s coming-of-age story set in a small town where the teenagers are haunted by the murder of the high school beauty queen. It's also the only show that uses its serialized chapter format properly. It's thoughtful and well-written. Unfortunately, it's incredibly bland and predictable. Stranger Things and various high school coming-of-age dramas and comedies on Netflix already do the same themes much more interestingly, so there's no great reason to watch this show.

"Flipped"

This coma-inducingly unfunny comedy features Will Forte and Kaitlyn Olsen as a vain, self-serving couple who dream of becoming celebrity fixer-uppers who end up working for a Mexican drug cartel. Are we supposed to find the Cartel bosses and their wives more sympathetic and hate the main couple so much we hope they'll be put out of our misery and buried in the desert?

"Agua Donkeys"

This deadpan comedy about aging pool boys and their antics feels completely inconsequential. There's no sense of why we should be watching this. There are no stakes. It also carries an unpleasant undertone of class condescension: "Aren't these dumb lower-class people funny?"

"Dummy"

This show probably sounded interesting when it was initially pitched. A comedy writer starts talking to her boyfriend's sex doll. If nothing else, it was a high concept. Its execution, however, leaves a lot to be desired. It's gross, not necessarily because sex dolls are gross, but for the attitudes in the show's writing. It's not as feminist as it thinks it is. It's not as funny as it thinks it is, and again, it gets worse and more unpleasant with each episode. My colleague went into more detail in her review. Seriously, did Anna Kendrick lose a bet? Was she blackmailed to star in this show? Would this show even be made if Dan Harmon's name wasn't constantly mentioned in it? And there you have it. Dummy is the worst, grossest show on Quibi.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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