5 Reasons To Watch DROPOUT Besides ‘Dimension 20’

Scenes from various shows on DROPOUT
Images courtesy of DROPOUT

It’s no secret around here that DROPOUT is my Number One favorite streaming service. The sub is cheap at six bucks a month, the creators are treated fairly, and the content is hilarious and moving by turns. Every show is socially conscious without being preachy- you don’t have to feel bad about laughing here. The platform’s flagship show, Dimension 20, constantly pushes the boundaries of what tabletop actual play shows can do while remaining accessible to newcomers by switching settings every season.

Editor’s Note: DROPOUT is not a sponsor of this article or our website. We just love them.

I know what some of you are saying. “That all sounds great, Khai,” you might say, “But I’m not really into Dungeons and Dragons. What would I do with DROPOUT?” While I want to argue that Dimension 20 is a blast even if you know nothing about D&D, I know tabletop isn’t everyone’s jam.

Anyway, D&D isn’t all DROPOUT has to offer. As a platform made and run by comedians and improv actors, it’s got a mosaic of programming with something for everyone. Here are five shows that make DROPOUT worth adding another sub to your entertainment constellation. 

Image from DROPOUT's Game Changer where Host Sam Reich asks players to like an ex's Instagram posts
This episode had players bidding on how much it would take for them to accept various dares. They got actual money, too, on top of pay.

1. Game Changer

Do you love chaos? Nothing is more chaotic than Game Changer, the game show where none of the players know the rules before the show starts. Sometimes host Sam Reich lays everything out up front. Sometimes players have to figure out the rules as they go along. Players might compete as a team or against each other, and they don’t always behave the way Sam intended.

We’ve seen improv karaoke, magical lie detectors, an escape room, blind truth or dare, and even a surprise wedding. Special guests pop up unexpectedly, like Giancarlo Esposito, Jewel, Howie Mandel, Bob the Drag Queen, and Tony Hawk. A few times we get Game Samers which revisit favorite games from the past. Some of those Game Samers earn their own show, like the sound effects bonanza Make Some Noise. The only thing you can expect is surprise and delight. 

Game Changer is the best game show in history, hands down. I would sub just for that… but there is so much more.

A scene from DROPOUT's Breaking News where an anchor is laughing hysterically
Amy is famously one of the worst players on Breaking News. She laughs at EVERYTHING and we love her.

2. Breaking News

The hook is simple: four newscasters cold read from a teleprompter with no idea what they’re about to say. The audience gets to read along via a ticker along the bottom. No matter what happens, the cast can not break character.

Points are added for every smile or laugh. Whoever has the most points at the end of the episode faces some kind of consequences. That might be light mockery or doing something ridiculous- whatever that episode’s writer chooses to inflict.

Here’s what makes it fun: the writer of every episode is a cast member. They know each other well, so they know which ribs to tickle for maximum hilarity. It’s basically watching a bunch of friends mess with each other in good humor. Once Zac Oyama had to eat a huge bowl of marshmallows while delivering his lines. Another episode involved Sam Reich being surprised into Venmo-ing other cast members his actual money (with a surprise twist at the end that I won’t spoil for you).

Ify Nwadiwe hosts Um, Actually
This is one of the new sets for ‘Um, Actually”. Previously guests spent the whole show in the chairs.

3. Um, Actually

“If there’s one thing nerds love above all else, it’s correcting people.” Um, Actually is a nerdfight extraordinaire where players compete to find teeny tiny errors in statements about our favorite fandoms. Every answer must begin with “Um, actually…” or you don’t get the points. It’s very nearly the only rule the game has, and it’s enforced to excruciatingly funny effect. 

Minigames- also called “shiny questions”- include guessing a song using only the “legal limit” allowed before suffering a copyright strike, drawing a fantasy creature using only its name, and finding the common trait between characters from different fandoms. The last round of every show features a “real life question”: when to file taxes, the tempo for CPR, how to jump start a car. I probably shouldn’t laugh at how often the winning player falls on their face here, but. Well. It’s funny.

Ify Nwadiwe took the host chair this season after eight seasons of Mike Trapp’s expert stewardship. There have been a few changes- a new set, a new fact checker, and some fancy new props- but the tongue-in-cheek spirit remains unchanged.  Fingers crossed Ify stays with Um, Actually at least as long as Trapp did.

Lily Du hosts Dirty Laundry on DROPOUT
Every episode, as a treat, Lily Du is absolutely eating. I love every look she has.

4. Dirty Laundry

DROPOUT grew from College Humor. Like College Humor, they have a reputation for using the same general pool of talent with a smattering of guest stars. Fan favorites pop up across different shows even after landing in a “regular role” somewhere. They’re also all very active in the fandom and on social media.

That creates a situation where we, the audience, have a consensually parasocial relationship with the cast. We know a lot of weird stuff about them. On Dirty Laundry, we learn even more. Lily Du hosts four players who try to guess each other’s secrets while hiding their own. 

I love how Dirty Laundry works. Players send Lily their own secrets ahead of time, so no one is outed for something sensitive. They get to tell their stories the way they want, too. It’s a show where we feel welcomed into in-jokes while also respecting the team’s boundaries.

Also, Grant O’Brian teaches us new cocktails every episode. Sober players get custom virgin cocktails with no teasing or questioning. How cool is that?

Mano has the best smirk when delivering an especially wacky prompt.
Mano has the best smirk when delivering an especially wacky prompt.

5. Play It By Ear

Picture this: four talented improvisational musicians perform a musical on the fly under the guidance of Mano Agapion. Given the scantest of prompts, they collaboratively create characters, a plot, choreography, and themed songs that must fit together into something at least vaguely cohesive by the end of the episode.

This all happens in real-time. Players can’t talk things out between prompts. It’s full speed ahead from the moment a prompt is dropped- sometimes in the middle of a song- until the finale.

Creators Jess McKenna and Zach Reino are regular players, backed with a couple of guest stars. I am in AWE at how easy they make it look to dive into a spur-of-the-moment four-part Europop performance, or sing a romantic ditty that namedrops as many tech companies as possible. It’s like Who’s Line Is It Anyway’s Hoedown game mixed with Glee, and I am obsessed with every episode. “Nothing. Everything. Children. Glass.” lives rent-free in my head forever.

DROPOUT has much more to offer than these. There’s Total Forgiveness, a show that starts with two cast members fighting for money to pay off student loans and ends with cathartic social commentary. Paranoia is similar to the popular party game Werewolf, except instead of trying to find a werewolf players are trying to figure out who smoked out before the episode began (in a legal state!). Just this year they dropped VIP, where comedians get a surprise costume makeover before being interviewed in their new character by host Vic Michaelis.

In other words: if you’re a human with human emotions, you can find something to love on DROPOUT. For the cost of takeout coffee and a donut (not even a latte, just straight coffee) you get access to a huge library of ethically sourced content made by people who care about doing things right. What else could you ask for?

If you’re interested in anything I’ve shared here, head over to DROPOUT and see what tickles your fancy. It’s the best six bucks you’ll spend all month.

 

Editor’s note: Amy was misidentified as Carolyn in a previous version of this article. My bad- I really love seeing her on BN, though! Her laugh is infectious. 

Author: Khai

Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.


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