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Series / Corporate

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From left to right: Jake, Grace, Matt.

Matt: Am I a weak person?
Jake: Well, you're definitely weak. I don't know if you're a person.

A darkly satirical Work Com created by Pat Bishop, Matt Ingebretson, and Jake Weisman, Corporate aired for three seasons (2018–20) on Comedy Central.

Ingebretson and Weisman starred respectively as Matt Engelbertson and Jake Levinson, two Junior Executives in Training at an Evil, Inc. Mega-Corp known as Hampton DeVille. Also in the main cast were their Jerkass supervisors, Kate Glass (Anne Dudek) and John Strickland (Adam Lustick); jaded Human Resources rep Grace Ramaswamy (Aparna Nancherla); and iron-fisted CEO Christian DeVille (Lance Reddick).

The show was known for its Black Comedy and Comedic Sociopathy, exploring depressingly bleak topics with a detached mundanity as it portrayed the struggle to survive in a soul-deadening office job.


Corporate contains examples of:

  • Bad Boss:
    • Christian DeVille is a Card-Carrying Villain who has no morals and rules the company through fear.
    • John and Kate, who serve as Matt and Jake's direct supervisors, are fickle, cruel and completely self-centered.
  • Bald of Authority: Lance Reddick is on familiar territory as Christian DeVille, a bald, black, stern authority figure.
  • Berserk Button: For Jake this is any unkind remark about his cat Pebbles, no matter how flippant:
    • When Matt suggests Jake would eat Pebbles in an apocalypse, Jake angrily insists that he would starve to death and let Pebbles eat him first.
    • Jake manages to trigger this himself in "The Black Dog". He spends most of the episode paying too much attention to his inner critic and meekly taking all of its cruel and demotivating comments on board. Until it crosses a line with "Even your cat doesn't love you"...
  • The Big Board: The conference room's whiteboard is used in "The Long Meeting" to list "ideas that could help the company," despite no one having further instructions. The ensuing "brainstorm hole" leads to things like "racism" and "this is a nightmare" being listed on the board.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Vacation" Matt takes a holiday to an eerily generic European city. Its name, "Trabalho", is the Spanish word for "work"- which is exactly what his employers still expect him to do there.
  • Bizarro Universe: Stockheed Barton's executives from "The Powerpoint of Death" are Gender Bender versions of Kate and John, leading seemingly parallel lives at Hampton DeVille's competitor.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Long Meeting" takes place entirely in the conference room, over the span of several hours.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In "The One Who's There" Christian gives a speech demanding more toothpaste be sold, throwing out the idea of adding nicotine to toothpaste. A few episodes later in "Natural Beauty," after shooting down Kate and Jake's idea for male make-up, John's successful pitch is for nicotine toothpaste, which Christian notes as being unoriginal.
    • Not to mention the Hurricane Machine, which is mentioned in the very first episode, and isn't brought up again until the very last.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Matt and Jake are tasked with delivering one of these to Christian DeVille's former business partner and Arch-Nemesis. Subverted in that Mr Hampton is blind and the case actually turns out to contain a single business card embossed with "FUCK YOU" in braille.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Walter Sabo, the company's top litigator... who comes into work shirtless on Casual Friday.
  • Butt-Monkey: Matt, the most optimistic and naive character on the show, is frequently abused by the other characters for not having given into the bleak outlook the rest of the show presents.
  • Child Hater: In "The Importance of Talking Shit" Grace briefly strikes up a friendship with Christian DeVille but they drift apart when she sees how much he loathes children.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: The show's trademark. Often delivered by Jake, such as when he says, "Look. They're having a good time. They're young and dumb, so they still think this is what fun is. They have no idea they're actually having a terrible time. It's honestly tragic."
  • Continuity Nod: The Obelisk appears in several episodes after its introduction, and Society Tomorrow pops up every now and again as well.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Most of the characters on the show fit this trope, but most notably the CEO Christian DeVille as well as John and Kate.
  • Crapsack World: The world at large is shown to be gullible and helpless as corporations like Hampton DeVille take advantage of them. The internal culture of the company is just as bad, taking pride in literally declaring itself as a confrontational work environment.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Jake describes himself as a "single cat mom" and his cat Pebbles as "my cat daughter".
  • Cuteness Proximity: When Lloyd starts bringing his dog Edie to work everyone goes completely soppy for her and regresses into using baby talk. Everyone except Jake, naturally.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: "The Concert" ends with one of these for Matt, Jake, Grace and Christian, who all decide they would rather stay in their respective homes and have an early night than go out.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jake never misses an opportunity to insult someone. In one episode, he says, "Matt, there's so many things I never got the chance to say to you, but they're pretty mean, so I won't."
  • Downer Ending: The series finale, "The Wind of God", ends with the head of Hampton DeVille's hurricane machine development team (who were all dismissed at the start of the episode, due to news of said machine being leaked to the media) breaking into the lab and activating the device.
  • Evil, Inc.: Hampton DeVille. "The Powerpoint of Doom" opens with Christian excitedly declaring that he's heard the country is going to war, because the company will have a chance to secure a contract with the military and profit off the destruction.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Hampton DeVille's headquarters is a tall black skyscraper looming over a city.
  • Extreme Doormat: Matt is seemingly incapable of asserting himself when it counts. "Corporate Retreat" sees him try to grow a spine, but instead he ends up getting sexually assaulted by the retreat organizers.
  • Feeling Their Age: The episode "The Concert" is all about this trope. Matt meets up with an old college buddy who it transpires is now a drug dealer with "connections" in the music industry. Matt struggles to keep up with him on a night of drinking before getting invited to see a band called Honeyscratch with him. The next day Matt finds his hangover almost unbearable and Honeyscratch's unlistenable "noise-rock" music only makes it worse. Despite this he pretends he loves it and is determined to make it to the concert, if only to prove to a smug Jake that he isn't too old for all of this. Naturally he eventually gives in and decides to have an early night and A Date with Rosie Palms instead.
    Paige:"After work I have cardio bar then a sample sale, three art gallery openings, dinner at this brand new pop-up, a sort-of friend's half-birthday party, then a catch-up with a real friend at a new speakeasy, then Honeyscratch"
    Jake:"Whoa, how do you have the energy to do all that?"
    Paige:"I'm 24."
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • Stockheed Barton is a Lawyer-Friendly version of Lockheed Martin, an American military contractor.
    • Smiley Juice, a smoothie chain owned by Hampton DeVille, inspired by chains like Jamba Juice.
    • The Obelisk, a comically large iPad counterpart.
    • Society Tomorrow, a cultural phenomenon streaming series, clearly inspired by Netflix's big hits like Stranger Things and Black Mirror. The disappointment most viewers experience at the show's finale also appears to be a nod to Game of Thrones.
  • Fictional Holiday: The season 1 finale "Remember Day" takes place on the eponymous holiday... September 11. Hampton DeVille has manipulated the media to turn the tragedy into a Christmas-esque holiday that they can profit from.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Plenty of these, mainly on computer screens showing the employees' email inboxes and calendars, laying bare their sociopathic plans for the week. Also on TV screens streaming content from Hampton DeVille's streaming service, Hampton DeView, where if you hit pause you can see listings for their morally dubious programming.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Corporate Retreat" features a seminar encouraging employees to become "Alphas wHo Only Like Excellence," or AHOLEs.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: A flashback in "Remember Day" reveals that John once had a full head of hair.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Matt gets one in "The Powerpoint of Doom" as he works on a presentation to pitch the company's weapons to the military.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Peg Peterson from "The Pain of Being Alive." Turns out when she was a kid, her father set her house on fire, kidnapped her while her mother rescued their dog, kept her for three months, and was then shot in the face by the FBI while Peg watched.
  • Inhuman Resources: Grace uses her HR powers purely for her own gratification, though she's really no worse than anyone else in the company.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Both Matt and Jake have been shown watching porn at work. Together. Jake watches tentacle porn while Matt watches "apology bukkake," which consists of various ex-girlfriends apologizing for breaking up with him.
  • Louis Cypher: Resident Bad Boss Christian DeVille's name sounds an awful lot like "Christian devil."
  • MacGuffin: "Trademarq" centers around people protesting Hampton DeVille for "superfracking." It's never explained what exactly this is, even when directly asked.
  • Mega-Corp: Hampton DeVille. Their slogan is "We don't make anything. We make everything."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Subverted in "The Powerpoint of Doom" when Matt is working on the company's presentation. He's working on a rather graphic slide with the heading "INSTANT DEATH GUARANTEED!" when it hits him... his font choice was awful.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The season 3 finale features an investigative journalist called "Bonan Marrow".
  • Once per Episode: Jake has a compulsion to randomly caress Matt's chin.
  • Product Placement: In "Pickles 4 Breakfast", the global streaming rights to Gilmore Girls are sold to Pluto TV, which is identified as part of Viacom, which owned Comedy Central up until its absorption in to ViacomCBS eight months before the episode's broadcast.
  • The Reason You Suck: Matt is given one such speech by Grace in "Natural Beauty" after asking why women wear makeup.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Matt is more idealistic, while Jake is more cynical.
  • The Scrooge: Christian in "Remember Day."
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Matt and Jake are known to have these, about topics like "Is Bin Laden's widow dating again?"
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Natural Beauty" is a good example. The entire episode builds up to a pitch to Christian that is immediately rejected on account of his insecurity.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Matt in "Natural Beauty."
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Arthur, the CEO of Stockheed Barton, has a longstanding rivalry with Christian DeVille.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This show could not be further to the "cynicism" side if it tried.
  • Stealth Pun: The series finale title "Wind of God" could refer to the hurricane machine Hampton DeVille is developing... or it could refer to Christian farting in the conference room.
  • Stepford Smiler: All of the laughing, smiling Hampton DeVille employees in the show's intro.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Several episodes utilise the familiar cry of a red-tailed hawk.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: "The Concert."
  • Suicide as Comedy: The latter half of the pilot episode, "The Void."
    • And again in season 3. So much so, in fact, that before the episode starts, an onscreen message informs the viewer that the creators "talk about suicide so much", some concerned friends made them call a suicide hotline. They also list the number, just in case any viewers feel the same way. The entire episode surrounds Jake saying so many suicide jokes, it concerns Matt enough to get him on meds.
  • Weather-Control Machine: "Wind of God", the show's Grand Finale, centers around a hurricane machine.
    • Which is actually a Call-Back to the first episode, when Christian asks Kate and John if they've "finished that hurricane machine yet".