Farmed and Dangerous, S1E1 “Oiling the Food Chain”: A Web Show Review


The first episode of Farmed and Dangerous begins not when the twenty minutes start counting down, but in a way that works exclusively because of the format. As a Hulu-exclusive show it of course kicks off with a 30 second commercial, but this one features antagonist Buck Marshall, who tells us that “surely there’s something better to watch on Hulu. Avoid Food Inc., though. More hippie propaganda.”

It’s a delightful introduction to the show as a whole, and establishes the smarmy villainous businessman persona that Ray Wise’s character is going to be embodying throughout. 

If you read my Fame Day on Chipotle, the restaurant responsible for partnering with Hulu and creating Farmed and Dangerous, you probably also saw the two minute trailer. The four episode season is more or less outlined therein, but what it doesn’t really get at is the performances that these actors bring to the table.

As mentioned Ray Wise plays the antagonist, the head honcho at the Industrial Food Image Bureau [IFIB]. The opening scene is the source of most stills from the show [and that I myself used above], where Buck Marshall meets in a suitably ominous Animoil factory with CEO Mick Mitcherson. The plan is to cut out the middleman when it comes to feeding livestock, the middleman being oil sheiks. If they just feed the animals these PetroPellets all that produce that’s usually transported to the cattle can go to humans instead, which is great.

Now I know you know that the cow explodes; that’s kind of a big selling point for this show. What you probably don’t know is the subtle visual communication they pulled off by bringing a “CELL PHONE USAGE IS PROHIBITED” sign into focus for a second. It’s just enough for us to get a little tense when Buck gets a call and steps away to answer it.

On that note, before I get to racing through the rest of the plot, allow me to take the time to state that the comedy, particularly the back-and-forths, is on point. Here’s a brief excerpt from the board room:

EDDIE: “Is he really giving her the T-bone?”
HARVEY: “He means-”
SOPHIA: “I get it.”
DIANE: “So does Charisse.”

Anyway, so a video of the blown up bovine finds its way online, and IFIB has to do some cleanup. The uploader is one Chip Randolph, the guy in charge of the Sustainable Family Farming Association [who they sued for using the word “sustainable”, and “farming”, and “family”]. New in the boardroom is Sophia, Buck’s daughter, and she’s confident she can set up a meeting between Chip and her father in spite of the former’s past refusals.

She finds him in a bar, and the obvious happens: he agrees to meet with Buck if she goes on a date with him, “Sunday, noon.” It’s really that easy. I could mark points off for going down such an obvious route, but Sophia makes a snide comment about it happening which leads into it, so they get a pass.

The meeting between Chip and Buck is where things get as close to preachy as they’re going to get [the most on-the-nose advertising is in the former’s name]. On one hand we have the businessman who protects the corporations and factory farms, and on the other the guy who is trying to promote organic, sustainable food. With that in mind of course we’re going to hear snippets of conversation like this:

BUCK: “If your farming techniques are so sustainable, how come so many family farms go under every week?”

CHIP: “Because industrial farms are subsidized by the government.”

And this:

CHIP: “…more antibiotics are given to livestock than sick people, and you’ve still got people dying from eating contaminated meat-”

BUCK: “Those people died from eating, not starving. That’s progress.”

Chip also pokes some fun at this whole PetroPellet thing, because how on earth are you going to market that to the public? He rattles off some hyperbolic spiel that we all know is going to come back to bite him, and then leaves after looking into the webcam that’s been set up and reminding Sophia about their date.

As he waits for her to show up he watches a commercial on his tablet featuring Buck Marshall himself, touting PetroPellets as-

“modern use of ancient solar energy, compressed dinosaurs and plants converted into organic crude oil providing livestock with all the legal nutritional requirements”

-which are of course his own words. Then Sophia shows up, they banter, and her boyfriend Zach appears [Nick Clifford, a poor man’s Jason Schwartzman]. His daddy owns Animoil and he breaks up their date, misdefines “extortion”, and leaves with Sophia in tow. Though not before Chip promises to take the video down at Ms. Marshall’s request.

The episode closes with Chip receiving a call from Elaine Huntsman, morning show producer, asking him about being a part of their weekly segment on viral videos. Pulling back the camera reveals a mysterious man with a receding hairline and one of those bodyguard earpiece things; he was also present at the bar earlier.

Of course, the teaser at the end of the episode reveals that the video was not in fact taken down, which is pretty par for the course when it comes to teasers eliminating all mystery for what’s to come. The great thing is that the show is still incredibly entertaining regardless, and I definitely want to tune in again to see an IFIB employee pay a kid $100 to “unlike” the video. If you’re not watching there’s really no reason not to, seeing as there are only three more episodes to go and it’s free to watch online. Check it out, because you may just learn something, while getting some laughs out of it to boot.

Stray Observations:

  • “Das ist petroleum.”
  • Sophia has to fake having met Chip before, at a protest, “the one against corporations that make money.”
  •  The young, handsome Chip Randolph used to be the top result on Google Image Search, that is until former child star Chip Randolph got onto Celebrity Rehab.
  • His actor, John Sloan, looks like if you mashed together Zachary Levi and Jorm from The Lonely Island.
  • This, of course:farmedanddangerousgooglesearch
  • “There‘re gonna be seven billion people on this planet soon, most of them with mouths. feeding them will be one tall order.”
  • Karynn Moore, who plays Sophia, is just lovely, but my attraction to her only grew when her very first scene was her ordering a burger at a drive-through and rapping along to a song that channels Nicki Minaj hard:

I am the queen, ruler of the world / if you want the best then holla at your girl
I am the number one contender / hot as the summer cold as the winter
how you gon’ be mad at a winner that’s me / first place blue ribbon placed on me 

  • It took me a while to figure out where it was from, since Google was coming up with nothing. The credits state that all songs were written and produced by Deetown & Piro, with vocals by Rachel Rickert. A little YouTube work and I found this music video credited to “Rae”:

One response to “Farmed and Dangerous, S1E1 “Oiling the Food Chain”: A Web Show Review

  1. Pingback: Shame Day: Candy Crush Saga | Culture War Reporters

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