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A Quibi Guide, Because What’s the Deal?

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BY April 29, 2020
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I’ll admit, when I first heard about Quibi, it intrigued me. Even though I regularly feel like I’m drowning in content, I always need more input. (I am binging Ozark while I write this.) I even became a Quibi Insider before it launched. Then it did, and I was a little whelmed to underwhelmed. So I did what I always do in situations like this–gather more information, clean something–and the result is this Quibi guide.

First, What is Quibi and How Do I Even Get It?

As you might have read here before, Quibi is a portmanteau for “quick bites.” Each program on the platform, whether a TV show or movie, is broken up into segments. None is longer than 10 minutes. For many of the shows, that means you could watch a full season in a half-hour lunch break.

So that sounded good to me. Then I actually tried watching it. First, I downloaded the app. (The Quibi app is available from the Play Store and the App Store. If you sign up before the end of April, then you’ll get a 90-day free trial. After that, monthly memberships are $4.99 with ads and $7.99 without.)

Quibi guide image via Warner Bros

Then, I downloaded the first thing that caught my eye, the first episode of The Most Dangerous Game, the umpteenth take on that old chestnut. (Note: You have the option to stream or download each segment.) I was at my office, so I planned to figure out how to cast it to my TV when I got home. And that’s when I discovered the first problem.

You can’t do that. The app isn’t available for smart TVs or streaming devices. There’s also no way to use screen mirroring programs with it. They are determined that you watch this content through the phone app only. As Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Quibi founder, told Vulture, “Nobody has made content that was native to, and only for, the phone. We want to do one thing which no one else is doing and see if we can do it really great.” My first reaction as a professional critic? “Hahaha, this sucks, man.”

Perhaps this works for other folks, but I can’t think of anything I’d want to do less than stare at my phone when I don’t have to. Short bits, like Quibi’s new take on Punk’d? Sure. But full-length movies, even when broken into little nibbles? No, thank you. So I had to figure out something else.

How to Write a Quibi Guide When You’re Not Sure How to Watch It

quibi guide image via Quibi

Because in order to write a Quibi guide, I obviously had to watch it. But I really struggled with staring at another screen. This kind of delivery method would be perfect for something like mass transit or airplane travel. But of course, no one’s going anywhere right now. I was at a loss. But after putting it off, it hit me:  I should treat the “bites” like a podcast.

I use podcasts as an accompaniment to every mundane task I have to accomplish. Walking to my mailbox, washing dishes, disinfecting my work space for the millionth time…everything is better with murder in my ears. I just get restless with only one stimulus–again, I am binge-watching TV while writing this. So, why not add this? So I tried it out.

My experiment: Tackling my massive laundry pile with the help of The Most Dangerous Game. With my phone perched on a shelf and my headphones on, I tore through episode after episode. With segments this short, they’re easy to follow even if I don’t have my eyes on the screen at all times. (I did try to, though.) I made it through all the available episodes before I even finished my task.

quibi guide image via Quibi

After that, I watched some shorter-form stuff. It was a little difficult finding stuff I wanted to watch, though. The design of the app doesn’t seem that intuitive to me. As the image above shows, there’s a “For You” tab, but that was already populated when I first loaded the app. In other words, these were general suggestions, not ones that had been tailored to my interests. And it seemed to comprise literally everything on the app. So, as usual, I had to be my own hero.

The What to Watch on Quibi Guide

As with platforms like Facebook Watch, there’s a wide variety of genres on Quibi. If you want quick news briefs, for instance, that’s on there from multiple sources. (I don’t know why you’d get your news from a brand-new app, but whatever.) The bulk of programming, though, is obviously various forms of entertainment. Here’s a quick bite, har har, of some of the offerings.

Dramas

The Most Dangerous Game: As I mentioned, this is based on a familiar premise. Man hunts man. The twist in this, though, is that it’s voluntary. Dodge (Liam Hemsworth) is dying already. If that weren’t already a gut-punch, then the fact that he’s going to leave behind a pregnant wife, Val (Sarah Gadon), surely is. Oh, and he’s broke AF. When mysterious businessman Miles Sellars (Christoph Waltz) introduces the idea of the hunt, Dodge ends up taking him up on it. And so even more mysterious rich folks hunt Dodge through the economically-devastated streets of Detroit.

The story’s still in progress as of press time, but it’s pretty compelling so far.

When the Streetlights Go On: A double murder rocks suburban Illinois in 1995. Hang on, let me put on my Nirvana fashion t-shirt that Taylor said I should buy. As an enthusiast of suburban horror (and someone whose finsta bio is simply “You’re from the 70s, but I’m a 90s bitch”), I was hyped to check this out. Teenager and aspiring journalist Charlie (It‘s Chosen Jacobs) chronicles Colfax, IL’s descent into a bummer of a summer. First comes an accidental death and the destruction by fire of an historic building. Then things get worse, when teen dream Chrissy (Kristine Froseth) and her beau, teacher Mr. Carpenter (Mark Duplass), are murdered.

quibi guide image via Quibi

Although it’s an interesting premise, so far the storytelling decisions are confusing and distracting in turn. Also, there’s nothing about this that feels very 90s. Chrissy’s sister has the Instagram cut, for goodness’ sake. Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere has been much better at nailing the 90s vibe, in my opinion.

Survive: I haven’t actually watched this yet. Anyway, Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins star as two people trying to, well, survive after a plane crash on a mountain. (Winter is here.) If you’re wondering how this isn’t just the movie The Mountain Between Us, then you should know there’s a twist. The two of them have far varying degrees of the will to survive. That should play out entertainingly.

Reality

I’m not going to get too deep in the weeds here. Since this content is so compact, it’s easier to dip in and out or to pick and choose what you like here. And there’s quite a selection. For some reason, for example, Quibi seems very into rebooting old MTV properties, so besides the aforementioned Punk’d, they’ve also brought back Singled Out. I haven’t watched the latter, but the former is okay. The pranks are kind of “who cares?”

This category also features everything from game shows, like LGBTQ Gayme Show–“two straight contestants compete in a series of physical, mental, and performance challenges to test their gay knowledge”–and cooking competition Dishmantled, to documentaries. If you like docs, then you’re sure to find something there to pique your interest. Maybe you’d like the Reese Witherspoon-hosted nature doc Fierce Queens, about female animals.

Or perhaps you’re more into Run This City, which follows a young scandal-tinged mayor in Massachusetts as he gets to run for reelection. If you like music, then check out &Music, which focuses on famous musicians and their respective processes. If you want to see celebrities talk about fancy cars, there’s Skrrt with Offset.

For a full list of shows, though, it’s actually easier to browse Quibi’s website than its app.

And I hope you found this Quibi guide helpful, but if there’s anything else you’d like to know, just comment.

featured image via Quibi

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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