[show=oddjobnation size=large]Comic relief and unemployment relief? In one place? How many shows can claim that?
In Odd Job Nation, investment banker Nate (Jeremy Redleaf) joins the ranks of the recently redundant after his firm’s Broadway backing of Diff’rent Strokes: The Musical goes about as well as can be expected. How is Nate going to break the news of his suddenly insolvent situation to his status-conscious fiancee, Cassie (Alexandra Daddario)? Duh. He’s not. Instead, he reluctantly seeks counsel from his rogue roommate, Joe (Devin Ratray), who lives paycheck to paycheck through a myriad of mishmash money-making schemes offered up on Craigslist. If Nate hopes to pony up the $1,500 deposit on that wedding cake that looms like a pastry of pernicious portent over his future, he too will have to get a lot more flexible about where his next paycheck is coming from…without Cassie finding out, of course.
Episode 1 builds a strong foundation for the series, and the opening lay-off scene in particular is nearly flawless. We witness a glimpse of that failed musical, in which Willis warbles about his “hot honky sis,” and then comes the inevitable pink-slip fallout as a blithe investment firm CEO (Frank Simms) faces a conference table of The Expendable. “There’s no easy way to do this,” the boss man insists, before disproving that theory via a suspenseful round of Eenie Meenie Miney Moe. In episode 2, Nate swallows his pride (and lack of rhythm) and prepares to accompany Joe on a crunkers-for-hire rap video adventure. Episode 3 is slated to debut next week, featuring cameos by Will Janowitz (The Sopranos) and the rapper Cross, with several more episodes currently in pre-production.
Redleaf (who, in addition to appearing as the series lead, is also the writer, director and executive producer) nicely captures the earnest desperation of a straight-laced corporate American casualty, and Ratray is perfect as his foil — an unapologetic slapdash schemer whose entrepreneurial enthusiasm (and rogue fashion sense) cannot be contained by a mere cubicle.
Interestingly, the web series is but one component of the web site, Odd Job Nation, which launched in March of this year and has amassed more than 3 million unique visitors. As Redleaf explains, the rest of the site “was originally just supposed to be supporting material for the show, but it’s become its own force to be reckoned with.” Indeed, beyond the webisodes, the site serves up actual odd job postings (courtesy of feeds provided by Craigslist); earnest job search articles as recommended by character Nate; dubious penny-pinching tips from character Joe (which are clearly higher on entertainment value than anything — although “recycling pizza sauce” might seem reasonable to some); and even vendors who will print your resume on a T-shirt (courtesy of resumeshirts.com, sponsors of the series)…because in desperate times, wearing your heart (and credentials) on your sleeve isn’t nearly as shameful as it once was.
Rewards beyond traffic and T-shirts could be on the horizon. As of this writing, Redleaf intimated that an unnamed successful oldteevee showrunner will be helping him shop it around come pilot season.
At the very least, the show can provide a few laughs — and the site might introduce you to a new gig in the process. For those seeking a haven from the less-than-amusing current clime, Odd Job Nation is a gem on many levels.