Better Off Ted

Better Off Ted

A short-lived office satire that perfectly captures the evils and ironies of corporate America


TV Show

United States of America
Andrea Anders, Isabella Acres, Jay Harrington
21 min

What it's about

Ted, a successful but morally conscious man, runs a research and development department at a morally questionable corporation, Veridian Technologies. No achievement is too far fetched and no invention too unorthodox for Veridian. Ted loves his seemingly perfect job; he loves his superhuman boss, Veronica, and colleagues Lem, Phil and Linda, but he's starting to take a closer look at the company's extremely questionable practices... especially when they try to cryogenically freeze one of Ted's scientists for testing purposes.

The take

Every episode of Better Off Ted starts with a satirical commercial from Veridian Dynamics, a multinational that does just about anything: biotech, weaponry, food, clothes, furniture. A soothing, soulless voice narrates the ad as happy, empty stock footage fills the screen: they can get you anything you please as long as it pleases them more. Money before people, goes the company motto, and there seems to be nothing that can stop them from achieving this goal.

Except perhaps for Ted and his small research and development team. As the conscience of Veridian Dynamics, he mediates between his amoral supervisors and hardworking colleagues and sticks up for the little guy as best as he can. He looks for the slim silver lining in every project he’s assigned, but the hijinks that ensue are both silly and sinister, highlighting the inherent contradiction of ideas like “family company” or “work-life balance.” 

Released in 2009 and cut short by ABC after its second-season run, Better Off Ted is an impressively prescient show that holds its own in a TV age obsessed with satirizing corporate culture. It tackles topics like racially-biased tech and meatless meat before they’ve even entered mainstream knowledge. It lacks some of the warmth and character depth you may be used to in typical half-hour sitcoms, but if you’re looking for something wickedly sharp, Better Off Ted is the way to go.

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