What do you think of when you hear “internet TV show about Gamers”? Probably something like, “NEEERRRRRRRDDDD!!” And you would be right: The Guild, originally an internet drama which premièred in mini-episodes, but not a Netflix available program, is about a bunch of socially awkward gamers who, after an emergency involving a renegade member, meet in real life to remedy the in-game drama.
The premise sounds tired, like something elementary school kids would watch. But no, this is a show for adults. That isn’t to say that it is vulgar or pornographic, not by any means. But the humor, writing, plot, and general concept is geared towards young adults; there is no childish rubbish here. Which is great because it could have easily degenerated into immature absurdities and been nonstop fake MMORPG World of Warcraft parody on the level of that South Park episode. A show about a bunch of people playing a video game seems like something you would expect to focus heavily on the game they play: each and every episode taking place in a virtual fantasy world fighting monsters while the person behind the screen is hardly ever talked about; you would be wrong. In fact, it is the other way around. In the entire series you only see original 3D rendered graphics depicting the game but a handful of times. Most of the action is firmly about the real world drama revolving around the concepts explored in online gaming: rival guilds, loner members causing trouble for the group, and the occasional drama making playing hard- such as housing and internet connections!
This is a great decision on the director’s part. Sure, in the beginning it was probably only done this way by default since they had very little of a budget to work with, but the point is that they kept it centered on the characters even in the latter seasons when they had a workable budget. I couldn’t be happier since each character is richly developed. Whether it is an anxiety ridden shut-in, a young male model, or an older professional turned gamer, the concepts all interact with one another realistically and very amusingly. Codex, the protagonist, has her periodic monologues to the camera in the form of a web-diary and these will hook you from episode one. So whether it is Codex’s entries or Zaboo’s relentless efforts to woo her, or Tink’s sassy remarks, the cast-though seeming to be cardboard cutouts at first, quickly grow into original entities which you care for.
To this end I am happy to report that the story is top-notch. The narrative evolves naturally and feels planned. The ending of one season slides into the opening of the next and builds off of the inertia. Nothing is hugely over the top but the finale is authentic and is, in all honesty, one of the best show endings I have seen. It may not go out with a monumental bang but neither does it retire with a whimper. The ending is the conclusion, the inevitable result of a group of people reaching an impasse which was helped along through an electronic medium. So in conclusion, I loved it: everything was stellar. If you are a lover of pop culture then it would be shameful to miss out on this online treat.