what is this TV show I saw a trailer for?
August 1, 2023 10:14 PM   Subscribe

Semi-recently I watched a trailer and even read some reviews of a TV show that I think aired in the last 5 years. I totally forgot what the name of the show was, or even anything that would be helpful in a google search.

The only things I remember about it are:

1. the plot revolves around some game that the characters have to play/solve on a large scale, like, their life becomes part of this game where, I think, they need to figure out the rules.

2. Genre-wise it seemed to be kind of a quirky existential mystery, and the trailer gave the impression of a very colorful, stylized aesthetic.

3. Not sure how helpful this would be but I stumbled on it after I watched Severance and Search Party and was looking for what to watch next. So, I was probably looking for smart / non-mainstream kind of series.
posted by virve to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I'm thinking there's less than a 1% chance it's Squid Game on Netflix, but figured I'd answer just in case that's it.
posted by daikon at 10:27 PM on August 1, 2023 [3 favorites]

There's Alice in Borderland, which has two seasons telling a complete story. It's quirky and highly stylish in that violet Battle Royale kinda way
posted by Jacen at 10:32 PM on August 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

Alice in Borderland sounds right: A bunch of people find themselves in an alternative version of Tokyo, where they are thrown together and forced to compete in deadly games based on Alice in Wonderland.

It meets your criteria: quirky existential mystery, very colorful, stylized aesthetic and it revolves around them learning the rules of the game in order to survive. Some of it is taking place in the city, some in post-apocalyptic ruins, there's even a stylish but surreal beach resort club. The characters are a mix of Asian young adults, and the role of the Cheshire Cat character is an excellent young actor with grey hair.

Another option is Persons Unknown: A bunch of strangers are thrown together as they wake up in a strange ghost town. They can't seem to be able to leave, and they are faced with various challenges and threats, like a live-in video game they can't quit. But that series is from around 2010.

Last one I can think of is Wayward Pines. A federal agent goes to a small town with impossibly quaint architecture as part of an investigation, and finds himself unable to leave. Then a fantastic story unfolds (it gets weird, but I can't spoil it). Still, it also came out around 2015.

Are you sure you don't mean The Prisoner? It was remade in 2009 (not as well as the original, of course) in 2010?

"Be seein' you!"
posted by Bigbootay. Tay! Tay! Blam! Aargh... at 11:13 PM on August 1, 2023 [4 favorites]

I feel like there's a pretty good chance you're thinking of Dispatches from Elsewhere, which was a quirky one season drama starring Jason Segel that was loosely based on an ARG / art installation that ran in San Francisco for a couple of years.
posted by bassooner at 11:15 PM on August 1, 2023 [12 favorites]

Yes, Dispatches from Elsewhere was fantastic! Definitely quirky and stylish, and involving existential games. With some great character work by Sally Field, Richard E Grant, Andre 3000 and a very moving love story with Eve Lindley as well. If you fall under its spell, don't miss The Institute (2012):

Not to be confused with a half dozen other movies with the same title, it's a documentary about the "real" ARG that Dispatches from Elsewhere is based on. It took place in San Francisco, and thousands of people took part in the Jejune Institute's machinations - for real. What I wouldn't give to have still been living there then, when a paper sign tacked to a lamppost might have given me entry into the alternate universe of this crazy game!
posted by Bigbootay. Tay! Tay! Blam! Aargh... at 12:07 AM on August 2, 2023 [4 favorites]

On the off chance the above answers aren't right, you could stretch the premise to Upload? Which is about a man who is killed and then arrives in a virtual afterlife (game?) which he then has to figure out the rules of for his existence.

Very quirky and lots of existentialism, though likely a plainer color palette than your show.
posted by matrixclown at 12:25 AM on August 2, 2023

If it's none of the above, maybe The Good Place?
posted by rjs at 3:07 AM on August 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

Maybe it was Devs.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:19 AM on August 2, 2023

The After Party?
posted by Sassyfras at 5:54 AM on August 2, 2023

I was also coming in to guess Dispatches from Elsewhere and I recommend! I need to watch it again now that I've moved to Philly.
posted by babelfish at 6:00 AM on August 2, 2023

I think it might be The Big Door Prize.
posted by Silvery Fish at 6:07 AM on August 2, 2023

Maybe it's The OA?
posted by hovey at 6:42 AM on August 2, 2023

Response by poster: It was Dispatches from Elsewhere, thank you all! And I also now have some new shows that sound great to check out thanks to all the other answers!
posted by virve at 7:33 AM on August 2, 2023 [5 favorites]

If you enjoyed Dispatches from Elsewhere, I strongly recommend taking a look at Cardhouse's chronicle of the actual Jejune Institute ARG that inspired it as well as In Bright Axiom, a documentary about the creator's next project, the House of the Latitude.
posted by eschatfische at 12:45 PM on August 2, 2023 [3 favorites]

It sounds vaguely like Maniac: https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/80124522
posted by talkingmuffin at 4:56 PM on August 2, 2023

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