This past weekend (before 8:25 pm Saturday evening, if the comments on their Facebook page are accurate), Atom’s newest original series, Quitters, hit 100,000 views since the first episode premiered July 16. That’s no small feat in the increasingly crowded web series world, so I decided to check out the three episodes they have available for myself to see what makes the show tick.
First off, the show is produced by Jamie Bullock of No Mimes Media. They are primarily known for their ARGs, but No Mimes seems to have a great handle on how to market their content on the web to not just create awareness, but actually bring the eyeballs to where they need them. One thing that has to help with that is the appearance of Jane Seymour as a regular. The show’s Facebook page is full of links to interviews that Jane has done where she mentions Quitters in venues as disparate as Dennis Miller Radio and NBC New York. It certain doesn’t hurt to have a name who’s willing to shill for you, and a ridiculously small amount of reading reveals why she’s doing it — her husband, James Keach, is executive producing, and her daughter is one of the writer-stars, Katie Flynn.
But, of course, none of that really tells you about the show itself, and I think that’s what’s going to keep people coming back after the curiosity factor fades — it’s actually good. Writer-stars Katie Flynn and Crystal Angel start with a simple, engaging premise: two twenty-something women attempt to quit smoking and absurdist hilarity ensues. The premise makes it relatable, and the absurdist humor brings with it a familiarity for anyone who’s ever watched Seinfeld or its angrier modern day cousin It’s Always Sunny In Philadelpia. In a nutshell: these are horrible, not-too-bright people that make you laugh by hurting themselves and others.
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The first episode (above, top) is all about setting up the premise, as Sarah (Flynn) and Quinn (Angel) embark on their first cigarette-less day after a party the night before to celebrate their new smokeless lives. Sarah is perky and excited, Quinn not so much, and they try to go about their day as the morning slowly passes. They get mileage out of old standby jokes like repeatedly cutting to a clock face as time barely passes, using time lapses to show the gradual disintegration of their living room the two leads’ urge to smoke grows, and a congratulatory phone call from Flynn’s mom (Seymour) where she unintentionally sends her daughter into a depression. It’s a fine if fairly standard setup episode.
Things really go off the rails (in a good way) with the second and third episodes, which feature Sarah and Quinn accidentally staging a Pro-Life rally, a fake pregnancy, crazy dream visions, and Jane Seymour really wanting to get high and naked. Every episode ends, of course, with the two leads breaking down and sharing a cigarette as the credits roll.
In general, the writing is amusing, the leads have great comic timing, and hearing Dr. Quinn talk about making love and smoking dope is just funny. All in all, I’m definitely interested enough to keep watching.