We have all probably heard wild conspiracy theories, from the Earth being flat to the government being involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination and to the real reason Disney’s “Frozen” was created. “Inside Job” by Netflix treats these conspiracy theories as if they were real.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for “Inside Job” is screenwriter Alex Hirsch, a screenwriter for Disney Channel’s beloved hit series “Gravity Falls,” which aired back in 2012. Much like “Gravity Falls,” “Inside Job” is filled with conspiracy theories and secret paranormal overlords, but the similarities end there. “Inside Job” follows protagonist Reagan Ridley (Lizzy Caplan, “Mean Girls”), an employee of Cognito Inc. (a.k.a. the Deep State, the company running the country behind the scenes for the hooded figures of the Shadow Board) as she navigates everyday struggles in the workplace while trying to rise to the top of the company and dealing with her drunk dad (Christian Slater, “Heathers”).
Although the show is high energy, entertaining and chaotic, with fast-paced wit and humor, the main storyline that follows Reagan’s development is a bit stale and overused. Reagan fits the bill of being a “gifted kid:” She graduated top of her class at MIT at age 13 (as all child prodigy geniuses do). Unfortunately, eventually, her obsessive focus on tech, robots and academics comes back to bite her when she also needs some social skills to lead her company. In typical fashion of all outsider/underdog stories, Reagan overcomes her personal difficulties to become a leader to the group that formerly ostracized her. With all of Reagan’s social awkwardness, and even clues leading toward the conclusion that Reagan might have an Asperger’s diagnosis, the show fell flat on addressing the topic and chalked it up to personal issues between Reagan and her dad, rather than allowing it to truly be a part of Reagan’s character. Given how far-fetched the entire show is, using this trope was disappointing, to say the least.
Another character, Brett Hand (Clark Duke, “Hot Tub Time Machine”), was introduced in the very first episode of the series as a white frat guy representing the epitome of white male privilege. Despite Reagan’s years of hard work to build the technology Cognito Inc. relied on, she was only able to be promoted as a co-leader with Brett, a completely unqualified yes-man. Reagan’s dad represents the recluse Reagan will become if she continues along at this pace; she needs to to develop her “people skills” in order to avoid following in his footsteps. Who better to help her than Brett? While the show may have been attempting to play up the common moral that we’re not all that different after all, there are other ways to go about that path that don’t leave subtle nods to the outdated notion that women have to be saved by men.
Another aspect of the show, and perhaps the most prominent one, that made it more difficult to watch was the nonstop references to pop culture and conspiracy theories: It included QAnon-type theories of the government being run by society’s elites, the Illuminati, Bigfoot and Mothman, the popular theory that the moon landing was fake and more. With so many real-world allusions, it was easy to become distracted from actual jokes and the main premise of the series.
This isn’t to say that “Inside Job” isn’t an entertaining watch (it certainly is not lacking in energy or enthusiasm), but don’t go in expecting it to be the next “Gravity Falls.”
Daily Arts Contributor Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.