Dead Pixels

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

What is it about video games that draws people in? Is it the graphics? The storyline? The camaraderie built with other online players? Well, for best friends Meg, Nicky and Usman, it’s a bit of all three … and maybe a chemical component, as well.

“When I have enough experience points, I’ll level up, and there’ll be a little red banner on screen and a tinging sound,” Nicky says. “And it’ll trigger a tiny dopamine rush in the mesolimbic pathway of my frontal lobes, and for that second, I will momentarily forget about death.”

Yeah, it’s a bit dark. But for these hard-core grinders obsessed with the online role-playing game Kingdom Scrolls, gaming is life. So much so that it actually interferes with their real, day-to-day lives. Meg struggles to find love since she skips out on dates to address gaming emergencies. Usman fails to find a healthy balance between playing the game and caring for his children. And Nicky—well, you saw what he had to say.

Grinders vs. Casuals

Like the characters at its heart, this CW show revolves around a video game. So we might as well begin there.

Kingdom Scrolls has all the same issues that most real life massive multiplayer online role-playing games do: violent deaths via beheadings and monster attacks (complete with pixelated bloodshed), inappropriate costumes on female avatars and a certain cavalier attitude towards murdering other players in the game.

Language is also pretty foul. When the show made the jump across the pond from the United Kingdom (where it originally aired in 2019) the CW decided to bleep out the harsher profanities, such as the f-word and s-word. However, it’s still pretty obvious what is being said, and we hear plenty of other profanities, including predominantly British ones  such as “bloody,” and “slag.”

And although it seems like we might be spared any nudity or sex scenes at this early stage, sex is not wholly absent from the show. Meg doesn’t hold back when talking about her desire to engage in the act with various men—the details of which it seems her friends would prefer to be spared. For anyone immersed in gaming culture, Dead Pixels will likely feel familiar and entertaining. However, even those who have been grinding at games for years—leveling up, collecting fictional gold and laying siege to castles—may find that the show is a little too graphic.

Episode Reviews

Aug. 18, 2020, Episode 1: “Bears”

When Meg meets a new guy, Russell, at work, she introduces him to Kingdom Scrolls in the hopes of securing a date with him. However, after realizing that Russell is a terrible player, she and her friends hatch a plot to murder his avatar and steal his gold for their own purposes.

People talk about sex in graphic detail, using a variety of euphemisms for male and female genitals as well as the act itself.

Within the online game, we see characters torn apart by monsters, bludgeoned, beheaded, crushed beneath boulders and a variety of other bloody deaths. We also see female avatars in revealing outfits. (For instance, a massive, green, Amazonian character wears only a bra and thong.)

Meg and Nicky play Kingdom Scrolls during work, hiding their computer screens whenever their bosses walk by. Usman neglects his children while playing the game, locking one in a playpen and ignoring the other’s request to help her with eyedrops.

After killing Russell’s character, Meg feels bad, realizing that he was truly hurt by their actions, and agrees to teach him how to play the game properly. Someone accidentally implies that a woman burned to death. Meg is rude toward her successful roommate.

Characters obviously say both the f-word and s-word, but all are bleeped out. We also hear “p–s,” “bloody” and “slag,” and God’s name is misused several times. Someone’s online handle is pretty crass.

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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