Type keyword(s) to search

Quick Hits

Dead Pixels: What You Need to Know About The CW Gamer Comedy

Get the lowdown on Meg, Nicky, and their fantasy role-playing game in the new-to-America British comedy.
  • Will Merrick and Alexa Davies in Dead Pixels. (E4/The CW)
    Will Merrick and Alexa Davies in Dead Pixels. (E4/The CW)

    For as much as video game culture has influenced the movies, both aesthetically and through the myriad games that have been adapted into movies themselves, it's surprising to note how narrative television hasn't focused much at all on such a huge swath of pop entertainment. Into that chasm jumps The CW's Dead Pixels, a deeply comedic look at the obsessions, quirks, and frustrations of a handful of gamers who are obsessed with an online role-playing fantasy game. So what's the deal with this new-to-the-US britcom? Let's take a look.

    What Is Dead Pixels?: The premise of Dead Pixels is fairly simple: three friends — Meg, Nicky, and Usman — are obsessed with playing a fictional MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) called Kingdom Scrolls. Ducking out of real-world social engagements left and right, and hunkering down under their home headsets, they immerse themselves in the medieval world of trolls and wizards and feudal politics… but mostly they rack up experience points by killing livestock. Of coures it's not really the game that Dead Pixels is interested in, but the players' interactions and frustrations as they play the game. As such, plotlines revolve around  the kinds of mundane situations that feel desperately crucial within the gameplay bubble, such as what happens when Meg disrupts the insular balance of the group by inviting a dumb hottie from work to play and he behaves like an insufferable newbie, or when the announcement of a Kingdom Scrolls movie draws jeers at the preposterous casting.

    Who Made It? Creator Jon Brown has been a writer on several shows, including Peep Show (the long-running British sitcom that starred future Oscar-winner Olivia Colman) and most prominently Succession. Brown wrote the justly-lauded "Vaulter" episode in Season 2, which was so damningly accurate about the shuttering of a new media startup that it bodes well for how accurately he'll be able to observe a subculture like gaming.

    Who Are the Stars? Welsh actress Alexa Davies stars as Meg. Probably best known for playing the young Rosie in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,  Davies is a veteran of britcoms like Raised by Wolves and Detectorists. She also had a small role on the first season of Harlots. Will Merrick, who plays Nicky, is part of that great incubator of young British talent Skins, starring in the third iteration of the show's cast, in Series 5 and 6. He has also appeared in guest roles on Doctor Who and Poldark. Charlotte Ritchie, playing Meg's bemused flatmate, appeared for four seasons on Call the Midwife.

    Where Has it Aired Before? Dead Pixels first aired on E4 in Britain starting in March of 2019. The CW initially picked it up to air in Fall 2020, but recently moved it up the schedule to debut in August instead.

    How Much Do You Need to Know About Gaming? Even for a non-gamer, the well observed human comedy is a treat, but obviously the ins and outs of games like World of Warcraft are being skewered as well, so one imagines anyone who spends a fair amount of time immersed in this world will get even more out of the show.

    Is It a Huge Commitment? As with most British TV series, the answer is no. The first season of Dead Pixels lasted six episodes, with episodes at a 30-minute length. 

    Is There a Second Season? Though it has yet to air, the series was picked up for a second season by E4 in the UK.. 

    Where and When Is It Airing in the US? Dead Pixels premieres on The CW on August 18th at 8:00 PM ET. It will then air weekly on Tuesday nights, with episodes available to stream the next day on CW Seed.

    Tell Me More:

    • The critics have spoken:The Guardian called Dead Pixels "gut-bustingly funny" and "the sharpest new sitcom of 2019."
    • Dead Pixels is one in a growing number of imports to find their way to The CW this summer. Primetimer's Aaron Barnhart has more.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Dead Pixels, The CW, Alexa Davies, Charlotte Ritchie, Will Merrick