Are you excited by the prospect of young comedians being given total creative freedom and access to Netflix's coffers? That's the promise of Netflix Presents: The Characters, the booming streaming service's newest piece of original programming. Netflix enlisted eight up-and-coming performers for what it's calling "outlaw comedy," a show without rules or restrictions; the comedians were given a half-hour each and allowed to jam whatever characters, sketches, and ideas they wanted into that time. If the show's first trailer is any indication, this is going to be a weird one: expect plenty of drag, reality show parodies, cameos from established comedy stars, and generally repellent behavior.
The Characters is a low-risk bet for Netflix. It requires a little more time and investment than the service's many stand-up specials, but it's not as expensive or hyped as flagship shows like House of Cards (or even prospective ones like The Crown). If one or two of the eight comedians receive especially enthusiastic responses, they can graduate to a higher-profile scripted comedy; if everyone flops, Netflix can put the entire series in its archives and move forward with its dozens of other new shows. We won't have to wait much longer to find out: The Characters premieres in full on March 11th.