Will the word “Quibi” ever not be funny? Netflix and Hulu are also nonsense words, but we’ve learned to accept them to the point of normalcy, like how “Luke Skywalker” is an inherently ridiculous name, but because he’s LUKE SKYWALKER, he’s a perennial Halloween costume. But Quibi was a funny word when it was announced in 2018, and it’s still funny now. If Jeffrey Katzenberg, or whomever, had gone with a different name, I honestly believe that Quibi wouldn’t be the online punching bag it currently is. (Example: “Every Quibi show description is like ‘We gave Kevin Hart 80 million dollars and he filmed himself reviewing granola bars and we’re OK with that,'” with nearly 1,000 likes.)
But dumb name aside, is Quibi worth your time and the financial investment? The app was launched two days ago, but I already have an answer for the latter: it’s free with a three-month trial, so as long as you have unlimited data or access to strong wi-fi, sure, why not? Beyond July, though, a Quibi subscription will set you back $4.99 per month, or $7.99 for an ad-free experience. That’s roughly how much a Big Mac combo costs.
Does a month of Quibi equal one Big Mac combo?
While it’s fun to dunk on Quibi (it’s fun to dunk on anything these days, especially with the shady alleged reason that Quibi largely exists in the first place), there is potential here. I agree with Slate‘s take that “now is not the time for Quibi,” due to [points in every direction at once], but eventually, things will go back to normal(-ish). We’ll return to taking the bus or subway to work, and waiting for hours at the DMV, and having to kill time because your friend is running late, and even though Becky says she’s only “five minutes late,” you know that means she hasn’t even left the house yet. Ugh, classic Becky. Anyway, once society returns to a semblance of normalcy, it’s Quibi time, baby.
I don’t want to watch an episode of BoJack Horseman or The Witcher while my car is getting an oil change, because I actually want to pay attention to those shows, but will I watch six minutes of Tituss from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt blowing “some shit up” in something called Dishmantled? Yes, I will. That, I think, should be Quibi’s path forward.
Of the Quibi shows I’ve seen so far (I’m sorry, I haven’t had time for Murder House Flip yet), my favorites have been the comedies and reality and game shows. Something like Punk’d, with Chance the Rapper replacing Ashton Kutcher (an easy upgrade), and the Will Arnett-hosted Memory Hole work better in easily digestible 10-minute chunks than full-length episodes. Shape of Pasta, about L.A.-based chef Evan Funke traveling to Italy to eat carbs, is comforting; Chrissy’s Court does a decent enough job of translating Chrissy Teigen’s endearing web presence into a Judge Judy-style court show; and Flipped, starring Will Forte and Kaitlin Olson as two wannabe home makeover stars, is funny enough to make you want to continue watching.
The dramas, including The Most Dangerous Game and Survive, I’ve been less impressed with — they both feel like high-concept Lost rip-offs from the late 2000s, and Quibi only released the first four episodes for each, when the entire season should have been available at launch. I understand they want people to stay signed up, but as Forbes accurately summarized, “It would be one thing if the first four episodes played like the first act of a movie, but movies aren’t mean to be watched in bite-sized chunks, and few of the episodes qualify as a full meal.”
As for the app itself, it’s fine. The mobile-only approach is annoying — meaning, you can’t watch it on your computer or television — but the transition from vertical to horizontal is flawless, and when I checked the video quality without using wifi, it was HD quality within seconds. This is, again, a reminder that Quibi should stay in its lane: I don’t want to watch an expensive-looking show with a plane crash on my phone; I want to see Gone Mental with Lior (I’ll watch a celebrity mentalist “enter the mind” of Rob Gronkowski, why not?), or Sam Raimi’s 50 States of Fright, with its standalone episodes.
Earlier, I mentioned the Big Mac, but that’s not the McDonald’s item I should have brought up. A better Quibi comparison (Quibi-parison) is the McNugget. They have no nutritional value and you can mindlessly gorge on a 10-piece order in minutes, just as the majority of Quibi shows have no lasting value, often intentionally so. And that’s fine! Dishmantled is tasty enough, so to speak, to prove sustenance while you’re in the airport security line. Is that worth $5 a month? With some programming tweaks, maybe (a show like The Circle would kill on Quibi). But right now? Well, there’s always the free option.