I spent the majority of last weekend watching Better Off Ted on Netflix and I feel terrible. Not because I wasted a whole weekend watching TV. I mean, I did do that, but I also did other things while watching it and most of my time is pretty much wasted to begin with anyway. I feel terrible because I bemoan the lack of quality television programs but then I find gems like this on Netflix that I never watched until after it was cancelled. After watching the 26 mostly brilliant episodes I think I might just be including Better Off Ted on my short list of favorite TV shows.
Better Off Ted is something like a crazier version of The Office. Both shows take jabs at corporate culture, though The Office is more focused on the soul crushing dullness of it while Ted is more about a cartoonish disregard for humanity. Better off Ted follows main character Ted, head of a research and development team for a giant corporation, as he corrals his team and tries to please his capricious bosses. His team is mostly a bunch of essentially mad scientists and an attractive product tester. The comedy comes from the problems his weirdo colleagues get into and the crazy orders Ted tries to deal with from above him. Immediately above him is Veronica, the epitome of corporate heartlessness. Also, Ted’s occasional lover.
What really works in this show is the main characters struggle to maintain his humanity and continue to do a job he genuinely loves. His struggle is the same as his attraction to both Veronica and Linda, the attractive product tester. Veronica is all about the job, and there is little personal connection in their relationship. Linda does the job because she must, but is all human rebellion. Ted wants to think that the humanity is more important to him, and as the show goes on I think he proves that it is, he still loves the job. So he flirts with Linda, even approaches as relationship at times, but he can’t let go of the job and he can’t let go of Veronica. This struggle is the moral center of the show, what is beneath the zany humor and crazy science stuff.
The creator of Better off Ted is Victor Fresco, who was also responsible for Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and similarly styled and similarly great show. He also wrote for My Name is Earl, another show I am a big fan of, though its last season wasn’t so good. Andy Richter Controls the Universe suffered a similar fate to Better off Ted, but at least that time I watched it when it was on. I completely missed Better off Ted. It kind of makes me hate humanity when garbage like Two and a Half Men runs forever despite never once being funny and great shows like Better off Ted struggle to get a second season. But I also wish that the advertising for TV shows did a better job conveying the show they are advertising. I missed BoT because I don’t tend to watch that much TV. I can’t watch every show to see if it’s for me, but some shows that I love disappear as soon as I find them.
Still, now I know about Better off Ted and I am glad to have watched it. I consider it a classic. Now I am going to try to find a DVD copy of Andy Richter Controls the Universe, because I didn’t realize that it had come out on DVD.