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Series / jPod

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jPod 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.

Other characters:

  • 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.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: All of the Podsters( Ethan, Bree, Cowboy, John Doe, Kaitlin) have some sort of eccentricity and wigginess.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Evil Mark was a main character in the novel. In the show he only has two brief appearances and dies.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hippie Name: One of the characters was born and raised in a hippie commune, and his birth name is "crow well mountain juniper" (all lower case, because the commune felt that capital letters discriminated against lower case letters). As an adult, he changed his name to "John Doe" as part of his efforts to distance himself from his upbringing.
  • 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!"
  • Suicide Pact Cowboy and Jennifer's parents died in a murder-suicide pact.

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