My thoughts on “Red Worm”(?)

Black background, red squiggle

Last year, Justine Bateman told of a trend of streaming executives telling showrunners that their shows weren’t “second screen enough.” According to the suits, shows should simply act as background ambiance. This isn’t unanimous, but it’s certainly a cause for concern. In any case, I suppose that Red Worm makes quite a bit of sense in this context.

If you’re unfamiliar, Red Worm sports a simple premise. In fact, it’s inarguably too simple. It consists of a single animated squiggle on a black background, inching around the screen. This persists for anywhere from 35 to 48 minutes per episode. I’m inclined to point at the screen and scream “AI”! Alas, I cannot. There are credits. A small team of animators have worked on each episode. There’s no tweening or outsourcing, either! It’s all frame-by-frame, domestic animation. That’s enough to put it in the good graces of a certain subset on Twitter. The difference is that I have a job and they don’t! Ha!

But, here’s what gets me about Red Worm.

Apparently, there are supposed to be plots in each episode. Each of them has a title and a description. The description refers to characters and events that one cannot clearly see! Want proof? Alright, let me present to you the copy for Season 2, Episode 7: “The Ivory Chair in the Spacious Maryland Wilderness”.

Geraldine stumbles upon the United States government’s vast underground supply of cheese. She must find a connection between it and the Ivory Chair, before her son perishes.

Episode description.

I can’t tell what’s going on. The copy editor might be having a laugh. Perhaps they want to have a screenplay published. For the record, the cheese cave thing isn’t slop resembling absurdism. The United States has an enormous surplus of cheese. You don’t fucking see it in the show. The episode really is just the same as any other. You see a crudely drawn squiggle inch around the screen, for 48 minutes.

Am I the problem? Maybe this is an elaborate art piece that I don’t get. Maybe the alleged plots are actually happening, in the form of animated interpretive dance. It doesn’t excuse the hackneyed nature of the alleged plots. Still, maybe I’m the problem. Maybe I should cope and just keep this stupid worm on while I watch something better on YouTube. On my phone. When I could watch the same YouTube video on my big screen.

To think that Comcast wants me to pay money for Peacock.

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