Dad is a surrealist comedy YouTube Alternate Reality Game series produced by comedian Nathan Barnatt in 2019.
Starring the character of Dad, as played by Barnatt, the series has a variety of content, including:
- Short videos of Dad and his family dealing with traditional Dom Com-esque situations, ending with a question being asked to the audience.
- Original, Dad-themed music with music videos.
- Live-streams and "special" videos.
However, despite the innocuous set-up, Dad does have a plot and sets up a mystery for the viewers, which every video hinting at some deeper backstory, giving clues as to the true nature of Dad and his family, and/or containing codes for viewers to crack.
The series also crosses into Barnatt's personal channel, with the Dad character making several appearances.
The series is split up into different acts, with Act I ending on April 8th, 2019.
Watch it here.
Dad contains examples of:
- Alternate Reality Game: Numerous videos contain interactive elements, such as hidden messages written in binary, giving the audience a mystery to solve as the series progresses.
- Arc Hero: With Andan no longer in charge of the channel and in the middle of a Fugitive Arc, Dadbot is the main character for Act III.
- Arc Words:
- "Fifth Gear Wide Open" appears often, usually related to Dad's desires to act human-like in the real world.
- "Obey The Server" appears numerous times, and takes on a more sinister meaning as the story unfolds.
- Benevolent Boss: Dad's boss is a kind guy who cheerfully agrees to help Dad finish his paperwork, gives him a raise without questions, and even gives him a brand new phone to help him work from home.
- Big Bad: Mom/Cheryl seems to be this, having imprisoned Andan and brainwashed him into Dad. Even after his escape and him getting replaced with Dadbot, she still tries to recapture him. However, there are seemingly some external forces at play as well and the Server seems to be having its own ideas, meaning she may just be The Heavy in a Big Bad Ensemble.
- Call-Back: Dad is Dead is mostly a straight recreation of the first ever episode of Dad, but ends with The Reveal that Dadbot now has conflicting emotions.
- Catapult Nightmare: In "True Value" note Dad is dreaming of a trip to True Value in which he picks up a bunch of supplies for free...and then the clerk offers him a "way out". Dad then catapults awake in bed.
- Cathartic Chores: In "Mom's Chores", Mom is peacefully vacuuming and humming to herself... until she notices something on the floor, which turns out to be Dad's Magazine, the contents of which make her incredibly angry. She throws the magazine on the ground, and resumes vacuuming, but furiously.
- Changing Yourself For Love: In Daughter's attempts to attract her crush, the Big Man on Campus Griffin, she decided to cut her hair, rationalizing that she liked short hair too, in a way that made it pretty apparent this isn't something she'd have done naturally.
- Color Contrast: The colors of red and blue, or pink and blue, are everywhere in the series. The two orbs that flash objects in-and-out of existence are colored red and blue. Lazlo has one red eye and one blue eye. The walls are pink and blue, making a gradient in the middle. Even in Minecraft, Dad's creation involves bright red and blue blocks, placed next to each other.
- Curse Cut Short: In "Carl", we watch Carl sneaking into a black and white building while thinking to himself. Just as he enters the building, he starts to say "Yippee ki yay, motherfu-". The door slams shut and cuts off the dialogue for the audience before he can finish.
- Day Dream Surprise: In "Kiss", Dad is feeling nostalgic over when he first met Mom, and how she used to kiss him on the cheek every day. He claims that he can even feel her kiss at that very moment, and the viewer sees the Mom show up to kiss him, which makes him very happy...until he snaps out of it, with both him and the audience realizing he was just daydreaming.
- Distressed Woodchopping: In "Dad's Chores", Dad is about to perform his job of chopping wood. At first he's calm, but when an ax suddenly appears in his hand, his thoughts go wild and he starts chopping the wood in anger, thinking about his younger, more attractive, more masculine neighbor, who was shown cutting wood earlier in the series, and who his wife is heavily implied to be attracted to.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Dad, Daughter, and Neighbor are only called by their title, but there are several hints that they all have a real, unused name. "Dad Elucidated" reveals that Dad is Andan, and Neighbor is Malvin.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Dad works at Work, eats canned food called "Food", shops at Store, and may even go out to eat at the Restaurant with his family, Mom and Daughter.
- Exiled to the Couch: In "Dad Loved Mom", one lyric states:Mom scares Dad when she has a bad day
So he sleeps on the couch, he stays out-of-the-way
- Fell Asleep Standing Up: In "Dad is Awake", he is asleep on his feet, with his briefcase and coffee in hand, ready for work as soon as he's woken up. Something similar happens in "Fantasy Story", where, though Cheryl and Daughter are awake and ready to go to the beach, he's asleep on his feet again and needs to be woken up. Considering that Dad may not be entirely human, this is another hint about his strange nature.
- Flowers of Romance:
- Implied in "Mom's Flowers", where the presence of lilies brings back old memories, before the flowers get changed to the chunk of wood neighbor chopped much earlier in the story.
- In his Imagine Spot when seeing Diane, Dad imagines giving her a bouquet of flowers, which she enthusiastically takes to smell.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- In "Dad Loves Mom", there's a single frame of Dad dancing with a woman in a red dress, who doesn't seem to be Mom due to her different hairstyle. The frame was taken from the video "Diane", in which Dad imagined dancing with Diane.
- In "Dad Bod", a string of binary is on screen for just a few frames.
- "CFBDSIR 2149-0403" contains faint characters, letters and numbers that flash for just a frame each at different parts of the song.
- "How To Tie A Tie" has several moments where faint text appears as Dad speaks, coded messages.
- Fugitive Arc: Act III, as Andan is on the run from Cheryl, though it actually focuses more on Cheryl and Dadbot due to the Dad channel being theirs.
- Fun with Acronyms: The Distant Aerospace Destinations agency that Andan works for.
- Inner Monologue Conversation:
- Dad, Mom, and Daughter all speak to each-other without using their mouths; why this happens isn't explained, but Neighbor, despite speaking like a normal person, can hear and respond to Dad's inner-monologue anyway and the conversation carries on like normal. Outside of this, most people appear to be confused by their way of communicating; however, there have been a few exceptions.
- In "Dad Is Out", Dad is outside the usual set and learns to speak with his mouth, making it clear he and his family have always communicated mentally.
- In "40K Celebration!" Neighbor runs into Dads family, claiming to have been practicing Telpathy to better talk to his "favorite family". This appears to be the first time in the series that someone outside of the family has communicated without talking.
- "Dad Elucidated" reveals that Andan and Ella spoke to each other telepathically, and that Cheryl and Melvin can switch between voice-and-mind speech on command.
- Instant Web Hit: In "Can't Be Stopped", it's mentioned that Dad, caught dancing at a club, received a billion views after people put the video online.
- Insubstantial Ingredients: Apparently, the only ingredient in FOOD is the color Red.
- Legacy Character: One could argue that Dad has become this, as technically the original Dad (the brainwashed Andan) is gone for the time being and has been replaced on the Dad channel by Dadbot. And even then Dadbot has recently been replaced with a new version
- Long List:
- In "Dad's First Subscribers", Dad lists all 100 of his first subscribers for two minutes straight.
- "Primary Slave" is just a video of Dadbot listing computer-terms for over a minute.
- Love Doodles:
- At the very beginning of "Dad Loves Mom", there's a brief shot of Dad writing in a notebook, which is filled with hearts and his wife's name written down repeatedly. It's enough to fill an entire page.
- In "It's Complicated", we see Cheryl's notebook as well, where she doodled loving mentions of...science and quantum physics, which the red orb turns into notes about Neighbor. We also see Dad's notebook for a second time, and it features notes on Diane in addition to Cheryl.
- Jump Scare: "HUMAN" contains camera footage of Nathan in a house, where he keeps stumbling and dashing around, like he's possessed. At the end of the scene, he lunges at the camera like a feral animal.
- Meaningful Echo: "Dad Feels Good" contains the lyric "Time for Dad to bring the lightning", which was nothing more than a cool line about how awesome Dad feels... at the time. Then, in "Dad Elucidated", Cheryl feared that Andan would "bring the lightning", putting it in a much more serious context.
- No Fourth Wall: The characters all know they're on YouTube despite the otherwise Dom Com format; Dad openly announces his intention to be the best YouTuber, Mom takes away his rights to "the sever" as a punishment, and he even interacts with the audience through live-streaming and comment-responses.
- Out of Focus: Daughter and Andan in Act III, which focuses more on Mom, Neighbor, and The Dadbots.
- Really 700 Years Old: Despite looking like an ordinary middle-aged couple with a teenage daughter, Dad claims that he and Mom are really "five-eons old", and that Daughter has been alive for three eons.
- Relationship Sabotage: In "Him?" and "Why?" it's revealed that the Dad Magazine and Mom's fantasy book were left behind by the Neighbor; both of these had caused rifts between Dad and Mom, and given that the Neighbor seems to have a thing for Mom...
- Ridiculously Human Robot: Dadbot, Daughter and Diane are revealed to be this in Act III, all looking and acting completely human, but with some weird quirks, like glitches.
- Sexy Figure Gesture: In the music video for "Diane", Dad is trying to not think about his feelings for his wife's friend, Diane. One lyric goes:Cheryl is gentle, she is so special
[Dad cups his hands near his chest] But that Diane is on another level!
- "Shut Up" Kiss: In "Dad Elucidated", Melvin is protesting the experiment and complaining about the situation. Cheryl, annoyed, just grabs him and gives him a Forceful Kiss as he's talking, before running off to find Andan.
- "Truman Show" Plot: One of the most unusual versions of this trope out there: Cheryl has somehow forced Andan into the Dad personality so he can front the Dad channel so she can acquire more funding for her project. In order to continue making money, she replaces the original Dad with Dadbot when Andan escapes.
- Vehicle Vanish: When Andan is trying to eat some pancakes, Cruthers manages to appear out of nowhere as the waitress passes by. After the two of them have a discussion about Andan's quest to return home, the waitress comes back, and Cruthers is gone when she leaves.
- Visual Pun: In "Dad Is The Best YouTuber," Dad sets up a pie with a figure of Felix the Cat on top, before proceeding to smash it all with a hammer. This is a pun on him wanting to smash PewDiePie, also known as Felix, to take his place as the best YouTuber.
- Wham Episode: Dad Elucidated: Andan wakes up and goes on the run, Cheryl reveals her relationship with Neighbour/Melvin, Andan gets a message from his wife Ella and Emily comes to Earth looking for Andan. From there, the course of the series is altered, with Cheryl having to use Dadbots to keep the channel running while she hunts Andan.
- Your Cheating Heart: Dad has not only expressed a love for his family's friend Diane, but Mom has also been heavily implied to have feelings for the Neighbor, if she hasn't already had an actual affair with him.