“Dude, I bet her wallet says ‘Bad Motherf*cker’ on it”.
-Theodore, Unproductive (Episode 1)
Unproductive is a web series created and produced by Brooklyn College’s Department of Television and Radio. It portrays the lives of six college students: Dave, Theodore, Sam, Cate, Ben and Bracha; as well as their struggle to efficiently complete a significant project for their TV production class. Unproductive centers around the theme of “unproductivity” and the various influences that can contribute to it.
The web show begins with an argument between two specific characters, Theo, as everyone appears to call him, and Dave. From watching the first four episodes, it is evident that Theodore is Ben’s best friend. He is witty, relatable, silly, disorganized and also tends to come off a bit strong to people. This is portrayed in Unproductive episode 2 when he decides to call Bracha “transfer chick”. Although he doesn’t truly seem to be the “essential” character in the series, he does play the role of the comedian, bringing in an added sense of humor. His Pulp Fiction remark and scene of spreading the word of the handbook were my favorite so far. Mostly because not only were they humorous, but also real and relatable. I know I’ve had my fair share of messy book-bags and misplaced books. I also am aware of how students would countdown the seconds when a professor was late, hoping that they would be able to get out of class that day. Although I don’t believe he is the character I necessarily most connect with, he is my favorite character in the show so far.
Dave seems to be a socially awkward character. He is clumsy in both his mannerisms and social interactions with individuals. This is portrayed mostly in episode three through his conversation with Professor Parker. She clearly is trying to have a serious conversation with him while he fumbles through questions, answers and even asks to stop so he can check his phone. Dave also appears to have the “producer” title for the TV production project.
Ben is another character on Unproductive. He, at least to me, appears to be a more emotional character. This is significant considering one of the show’s main aspect is that he and his girlfriend, Cate, of three years have just broken up. Ben is very bitter about the break up and his anger and dissatisfaction is evident from episode 1. He constantly complains and finds ways to confront Cate about the end of their relationship. Through the last four episodes, Ben has struggled with his emotions, which have drastically affected his work. Professor Parker decides to confront Ben on his decline and even goes so far as to call him the “weak link” in the group.
Cate, Ben’s ex-girlfriend, is another character that Unproductive revolves around. According to the first episode Mad Ben, Cate was the one who broke off the relationship. Her reasoning is somewhat hinted at episode 2 during her conversation with Sam, but is not fully understood until episode 4. In episode 2, Bracha’d City, Sam begins to ask Cate why did she ended her relationship with Ben. Cate tells her, “It was the worst, because Ben was the James f*cking Joyce of South-slope and meanwhile I was just-”. The conversation ends there with Sam telling Cate that she may have broken up with Ben unfairly. In episode 4, Ben remarks that Professor Parker “gave the writers the outdoor scene”. After some research, I discovered that James Joyce was a famous Irish, modernist writer. According to biography.com, Joyce “perfected his stream-of-consciousness style and became a literary celebrity”. His work apparently “brought about landmark legal decisions on obscenity”. Due to Ben’s remark it can be assumed that both he and Cate are script writers. With Cate’s comparison of Ben to James Joyce, it can also be assumed that Cate ended things with Ben due to his extraordinary writing skills that individuals seemed to admire. I believe that she was jealous of his recognition and perhaps his new-found fame became a barrier between him and Cate.
Sam, the fifth “college student” character, is Cate’s best friend. The two appear to discuss everything together as shown in episode 2. Sam appears to be level-headed and tries to not take sides. She clearly does not wish for the group’s friendship to be heavily affected by Cate and Ben’s break up. Sam also seems to be a lesbian, bringing in more diversity to the web series. Bracha, the final character in the web series, is a transfer student who struggles to find her place among the group. I find that she is the character with whom I most connect with. Although I am not a transfer student, I am a freshman. Struggling with new students, professors and assignments is something that I am still currently going through. It’s a struggle to find your place among others. I also find myself connecting with this particular character because of her personality. Back in high school, I was always the student who read the syllabus and who followed instructions. I was the “innocent” and the “knows everything/always does well” student. This appears to be Bracha’s personality and is especially portrayed during episode 3 through her conversation with Ben, who it appears he is especially friendly with.
Personally, I find Bracha’s role in the series interesting. It appears that as the “new kid” Bracha’s interaction with each of the other characters grants the viewer the opportunity to learn more about the other students. It was through Bracha’s conversations with Theodore, Ben and Dave that I have been able to get a better read on them.
Based off of what I’ve been able to understand about each of the different characters, I think that the group is going to eventually come to place where things are just out of control. Everyone is going to hate everyone else and their grade is going to suffer for it. I think that once it reaches this stage, the group will either split up and eventually come back together or the group will come close to breaking up and then reconcile. In any show, there is usually this build up of tension to the climax so I believe that Parker’s talk with Dave, along with her talk with Ben as well as the conflicts between Cate, Ben and Theodore are all things that will rise to a climax.
I would like to see Cate and Ben talk and work out their differences considering that the reason and the manner they broke up seem pretty silly, although it appears that Ben is leaning more and more towards Bracha. Perhaps Ben and Cate will reconcile, but split ways, leaving Ben free to pursue Bracha or perhaps Bracha will simply just be a good friend to Ben. I guess I’ll have to wait till the next episode to find out.