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I’ll try to keep this short, as there are many ways in which this show deteriorated over the years, but I think essentially it boils down to an encroaching sense of joylessness. When it started, the show was simple and fun, just a bunch of friends hanging out and riffing on the games they were playing, having a good time no matter if the game was amazing (Red Dead Redemption) or garbage (Harley Davidson Road Trip). But, over time, Fraser – the show’s creator and primary host, and the only cast member who’s appeared in every installment – started to take video games and the show itself more seriously, which slowly sucked a lot of the joy out of it. It didn’t help that he decided to lean into his on-camera “rage-filled man-child scrub” persona, which I suspect isn’t too far removed from his actual personality. While many fans enjoyed it, I found it irritating and off-putting. Later he became even more jaded with gaming, and it was clear he was no longer enjoying himself. Proceedings became more rote and unpleasant, so I tuned out. Through the grapevine I’ve heard that he recently admitted to not being interested in video games at all anymore; presumably he only keeps doing the show out of obligation, which sounds like the opposite of a good time to me. Nevertheless, the first few years of content are genuinely enjoyable and recommended for anyone looking for something light and casual that doesn’t take itself seriously. However, many other lets-players and streamers have cropped up in the years following this show’s debut to fill that niche, and have often improved on the formula, so it’s likely you could find something else just as good or better. Unfortunately, these days those old videos only seem to be good for former fans like myself going on a nostalgia trip. It’s a real shame.
I'm a big fan of shows I can play in the background when gaming and this pretty much fits the bill. Because of their laid back production method, they produce many hours of content regularly. They're lighthearted, even Fraser with his trolling comes off as just a guy giving his buddies a good natured ribbing as guys tend to do and Becky and Ben balance that out well (especially Becky). The kind of content they produce is good for mentally tuning in and out.
It also helps that they're visibly expressive and lively in their reactions, making it fun for the audience, especially those who have played the game in question and are eagerly anticipating the cast's reactions to the next cool moment or twist.
And that's really what this show is about. You're not watching this to get a review of the game or a walthrough, or to see pro gamers in action. Fraser, Becky and Ben are your surrogate gamer buddies who you enjoy sharing a gaming experience with. This is why the show is set up the way it is, so that you can see the VGA cast on the couch even as you see the game on screen.
If you're the type who wants someone else to play the game you just played and see if they felt the way you do, this is a pretty good show to watch.
I've been debating about writing this review for nearly a year. Every time I begin, I always back out in fear of insulting its hosts, as they essentially are the show. However, I feel the need to summarize my thoughts, if only to understand why I myself watch it. Besides, as many have pointed out, the series is a "show" with "characters", so it shouldn't be immune to some criticism and analysis.
VGA is an odd beast, due in large part to Show!Fraser. I challenge anyone to find a show with a host that is as openly hostile towards its fanbase as this one while still managing to be entertaining. Show!Fraser is one of the most fascinating and complex characters I have ever seen. He is unfunny yet hilarious, lazy yet hardworking, completely ignorant yet very intelligent. He has an opinion on everything, including things that he knows nothing about (namely, everything save for tech and the select few games that he is passionate about). He treats the people who most respect him poorly, and feeds off the hatred of others. In short, he is the ultimate personification of the Internet Troll. Real!Fraser deserves an Oscar.
And yet... what is the point? I have always believed that comedy should have some point, and there are truly only two it can have: to create laughter or to point out a perceived flaw in order to mend it. Fraser does neither. What few laughs he provides without aid are almost always the result of a goofy face or vulgarity. His brilliant portrayal of an Internet troll does not mock them; it glorifies them. Oh, Fraser repeatedly calls out those who troll his show on their stupidity, but it never seems like the persona he puts on mocks trolls sharing his opinions. It just seems like he's having a great time being free of his inhibitions.
As for the rest of the hosts- they're absolutely fantastic. Becky, while occasionally too "cutesy" for my taste, adds an incalculable amount to the show. Ben has a fantastic wit. Kyle is criminally under-appreciated; every episode he's in is a winner. And Deacon... what can I say?
The show's presentation is the best of any LP series, period. It oozes quality. Show and Trailers, while often lacking in facts, are entertaining and professionally edited.
Is VGA awesome? It's fun. I definitely suggest some individual parts. But it stumbles and insults too often to make it a must-watch.
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