is a CBC
series based on the 2006 Douglas Coupland
novel of the same name. It focuses on a group of game designers at the fictional Neotronic Arts in Vancouver
, British Columbia. More specifically, it follows the darkly humourous work/personal life of Ethan Jarlewski.
At the beginning of the series, we are introduced to the residents of jPod, a section of cubicles located in the Neotronic Arts basement, and formed when a Y2K
glitch caused all employees with surnames beginning with the letter 'J' to be placed here. The inhabitants of this freaky 'pod of the corn' are:
- Ethan Jarlewski: Gore expert. A med school drop-out and sneaker enthusiast.
- John Doe (crow well mountain juniper, all in lower case, because no letter is more important than any other letter): Backgrounds. The son of a scary hippie lesbian and a turkey baster, raised in a militant lesbian commune and at the series outset, attempting to become as statistically normal as possible.
- Cowboy (Casper Jesperson): Coder. Cowboy spends most of his time smoking and attempting to make it into the top ten of the VanCity player board, until a 'tussed up dream involving his parents (who died in a murder suicide pact one Christmas) prompts an obsession with death.
- Bree (Brianna Jyang): Motion capture. A perfectionist and Puma (or Cougar in training).
- Kaitlin Joyce: Character design. The newest member of jPod, an American go-getter who once worked at Apple, and whose personal stories resemble Kate's holiday remembrances from the Gremlins movies.
- Steve Lefkowitz: the new head of marketing, placed in charge of jPod. His first act is to demand the insertion of a buddy character in the form of a turtle into a violent skateboarding game. It goes downhill from there…
- Carol Jarlewski: Ethan's mother, a home maker channeling her severe empty nest syndrome into a successful basement grow-op.
- Jim Jarlewski: Ethan's father, a retired businessman turned actor, desperately seeking a speaking role.
- Kam Fong: a Chinese smuggling kingpin and ballroom dancing fan.
- Greg Jarlewski: Ethan's brother, a successful real-estate salesman who spends his spare time chasing ‘Cougars’ and aiding Kam Fong in human trafficking.
- Alistair Parish: Steve’s eventual replacement, a coder whose brilliant flight simulator led to a lengthy internment in Guantanamo Bay.
Tropes present in the series:
- Accidental Hero Kevin, Kaitlin's ex who works as a clown in a fast food restaurant, saves several children from dying in a burning building. He only went inside said building to rescue his cell phone and the kids grabbed him as he escaped.
- Action Girl Bree's a great shot
- Alcoholic Parent Ethan's dad.
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels
- All Girls Want Bad Boys Subverted, Bree and John Doe, Ethan and Kaitlin.
- All Women Love Shoes Subverted, Kaitlin harasses Ethan over his shoe obsession.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin John Doe until episode 11
- Ambiguous Disorder: All of the Podsters( Ethan, Bree, Cowboy, John Doe, Kaitlin) have some sort of eccentricity and wigginess.
- Back to School Kaitlin and her night school.
- Be as Unhelpful as Possible All the podsters when questioned about Steve's disappearance
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil Alistair was wrongfully sent to Gitmo for several years. He was released and appeared normal until he tries to blow everyone up.
- Beta Couple John Doe and Bree.
- Betty and Veronica Explicitly lampshaped, Sarah-Ethan-Kaitlin.
- Big Screwed-Up Family The Jarlewski and Jesperson family
- Bratty Half-Pint Steve's son.
- Brilliant but Lazy All the podsters, except Kaitlin who likes working.
- Brother-Sister Incest Cowboy and his bi-curious lesbian sister exchanged body pictures online before meeting in real life. When they meet in person, they take out their PD As and delete any evidence of this.
- Bumbling Dad Jim Jarlewski.
- Burger Fool Churley Burger.
- Buy Them Off After being caught by Cowboy for stealing his ipod, Steve offers Cowboy a hug machine.
- The Cameo Douglas Coupland, author of the book, appears as a dead body in Cowboy's dream.
- Cliff Hanger Kaitlin's fate
- Coincidental Broadcast
- Cool and Unusual Punishment John Doe brings microwaveable buttered popcorn into their workplace. His punishment? Have it taped to his chest and shunned from his co-workers.
- Corrupt the Cutie Kaitlin is subtly corrupted by the podsters by the end of the show.
Kaitlin: After hanging with you guys for months, I like to think I learned something.
- Does Not Like Men Dutchie.
- Downer Ending Steve is accidentally killed by Carol. jPod is disbanded. All of them are likely to lose their jobs after their Gore Quest stunt (see Misfit Mobilization Moment below). Kaitlin falls into a coma because of Babette in the hugging machine. Jim and Carol still have marital problems to deal with after Carol ran away to join a lesbian commune.
- Driven to Suicide Cowboy's parents
- Dropped a Bridge on Him (Steve)
- Drugs Are Bad Although Carol is a pot dealer, the only characters seen smoking pot are bikers and Sarah. Later, Steve becomes addicted to heroin.
- Duel to the Death Parodied with a rock-paper-scissors competition between Alistair and Ethan.
- Establishing Character Moment Many in the first episode. For example:
- Carol showing a biker around her grow-op.
- Cowboy introducing his love of cigarettes and sex.
- Bree bidding on a whip online and then playfully whipping John Doe with candy.
- Everybody is Single
- Five-Man Band:
- Formerly Fat: Kaitlin Joyce, back in her high school days.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot Inverted with Greg and Ethan walking in on their mother and freedom in a suggestive stance.
- Groin Attack The show Jim watches is called "Kicked in the Nuts."
- Handsome Lech Cowboy.
- Headphones Equal Isolation "Carol time."
- The Hedonist Cowboy and his love for smoking, getting tussed up and casual sex.6
- Heterosexual Life-Partners (Kam Fong and Jim.
- Hollywood Nerd (The podsters)
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold Subverted, Sarah is lying, manipulating drug addict.
- Hot Coffee Minigame The podsters place one into Board X.
- Incompetence, Inc. Neotronic Arts.
- The Internet Is for Porn (And Cowboy knows it.)
- I Want Grandkids
Carol: Finally, a chance at grandkids!
- Jerk Ass Alistair Parrish.
- Just a Machine Babette
- Kicked Up Stairs They actually ENJOY being in this possition, as they can work on any pet project they can think of if they want, or sit back and waste time talking about random pop culture trivia if they want, as their group is too low profile for anyone to really CARE what they do with their work days.
- Killed Off for Real Steve and Alistair
- Larynx Dissonance Jim voices the female security guard in the Board X demo.
- Lethal Lava Land Where Kaitlin's gore sequence takes place.
- Likes Older Women Greg loves his cougars and jaguars.
- Loveable Rogue Kam Fong.
- Mama Bear Carol.
- May-December Romance Jim and Ellen for the first episode, then he realized she's insane.
- Medieval European Fantasy Sprite Quest.
- Misfit Mobilization Moment The podsters hacking their boss' meeting and play video of the gore sequences they developed for their cancelled game.
- Mouthful of Pi Kaitlin does this during one of her night school classes before stopping after her classmates give her disapproving stares.
- No Bisexuals Somewhat averted, Cowboy and Kam Fong get lesbians "off the carpet and onto hard wood."
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Ethan whenever he helps out his parents, moreso in the book.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay Averted with the lesbian commune, most of them are older.
- Only Sane Employee Ethan. Kaitlin attempts to be this but often causes trouble.
- Only Sane Man Kaitlin, when she first starts working at jPod and later when she works on Baby Cloris.
- Pac Man Fever Averted, the characters are often seen playing games on the Xbox 360.
- Romantic False Lead Sarah to Ethan and Kaitlin.
- Parental Abandonment Cowboy's parents died in a murder-suicide pact.
- Parental Favoritism Bree's parents prefer her brothers, Ethan's parents prefer his older brother Greg.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish When John Doe hacks a school website, the password is pa55w0rd.
- Pointy-Haired Boss Steve.
- Popular Is Dumb All the girls in Kaitlin's night school class are implied to be this.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend Ellen Steel to Jim. He eventually gets Kam Fong to kidnap her.
- Quintessential British Gentlewoman Gwyneth Lockerbie, VP of Neotronic UK.
- Red Light District The podsters put one in Board X.
- Relationship Upgrade Bree and John Doe in episode 8, Ethan and Kaitlin in episode 11
- Ridiculous Procrastinator All the podsters except Kaitlin.
- Signed Up for the Dental
Cowboy: I dropped out of Yale to work at this place because the money's great and it's the only place in town where you can smoke your brains out and download porn and write code.
- Skewed Priorities Carol: "If heroin keeps Steven even-keel, you can't just cut him off. It's rude!"
- Stalker Shrine Ellen has one of Jim.
- Suicide Pact Cowboy and Jennifer's parents died in a murder-suicide pact.
- Techno Wizard John Doe and Cowboy.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl Bree and Kaitlin, respectively.
- Took a Level in Badass After Steve is rescued from China.
- The Unfavorite Ethan and Bree.
- Virginity Makes You Stupid Averted, John Doe had a jungle gym in the shape of a vagina so he was more than competent at pleasing a woman when the time came.
- Visual Innuendo John Doe and peanut butter.
- Welcome Episode Steve had one.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? John Doe's fear of clowns.
Tropes present in the book:
- 20% More Awesome:
Ethan: I've come to the conclusion that documents are thirty-four percent more boring when presented in the Courier font.
- Author Avatar / Self-Deprecation:
- The characters start out out the book by lamenting that they're turning into characters in a Douglas Coupland novel, and they're not happy about it:
"Oh God. I feel like a refugee from a Douglas Coupland novel."
"Who does he think he is?"
- Coupland himself appears as a recurring (and increasingly JerkAss, at least to Ethan) character.
- By the end of the book, Coupland has co-opted Ethan's co-workers and even his parents, and all of jPod has quit Neotronic Arts to work for him. Ethan is allowed to join in only after he hands over his laptop, so Coupland can base his next novel on its contents.
Coupland: "Because my contract says I have to write a book, and it's easier just to steal your life than to make something up."
- Filler: The reproduction of the number games jPod members played could be seen as this. For example, 14 pages of the book are devoted to listing the prime numbers between 10,000 and 100,000 (with one non-prime number included), and 20 pages are devoted to the first 100,000 digits of pi (with one incorrect number).
- Happy Ending: In contrast to the TV series. Lampshaded, of course.
- Shout-Out: Too many to list, given that the entire book is dedicated to going off on various and random tangents of pop culture, but one notable one is that Kam Fong has the same name as an actor on the original Hawaii Five-O (needless to say, it's lampshaded).
- Spiritual Successor: To Coupland's 1995 book Microserfs.
Play again? Y/N