Prior to watching Human Resources’ first episode, I only knew it to be a docu-comedy. I therefore thought the show would be like The Office, e.g. a fictional show in a documentary style. My first impressions were correct. The show centers around Terra Cycle, a company that eliminates waste though recycling and reusing waste and turning it into new products (products range from benches to picture frames to bags). While I learned about the company mission, I started getting suspicious on whether this show was indeed fiction. On the one hand, I thought I had heard the company name TerraCycle before, and didn’t think any company would agree to have their name used in a fictional account. On the other hand, I didn’t hear anyone say “ums” or “uhs,” a staple of non-scripted shows. I let Google settle the debate. The verdict: TerraCycle is real. The owner and the employees who talk to the camera do in fact exist.
The fact that I couldn’t tell whether the show was real or not was clever in my opinion. Many shows are too obvious in what style they are (sitcoms feature same, staple humor and situations, while reality shows put people in extreme situations for attention seeking purposes), so I appreciated how the show had me guessing from the beginning.
The pilot episode, “Talking Trash” focuses on first explaining TerraCycle’s mission and then delving into the company’s efforts to pitch a coffee table book to a publisher. For this sales pitch, TerraCycle has to put together sample designs that the book would highlight. Tom Szaky, TerraCycle’s owner, pushes his team to create unconventional designs. His team includes Tiffany Threadgould, whose title (per the website) is “Chief Design Junkie,” and Dean Innocenzi, the graphic design artist who loves raps and wears a cap to work everyday. Dean is particularly memorable throughout the first episode as Tom and his management team try to make Dean speak/act more business professional in preparation for the book sales pitch.Watching Dean’s transformation is particularly hilarious since it is a different style from his usual mannerisms.
Throughout the episode, we see the staff meetings/ creative designing processes and hear his and the employees’ subsequent reactions afterwards. Tom doesn’t always like the designers’ ideas and has his own vision, which the designers don’t always understand and think (based on their expressions) are nonsense at times.
I enjoyed the pilot for a few reasons. One, I admire TerraCycle’s mission to eliminate waste through creative means. Through the behind the scenes view of the organization, I could tell how genuine and passionate everyone was about creating a more environmentally friendly world. The other reason I liked the show was the humor. I initially couldn’t tell if the show was fictional or not because the dialogue was as witty as what I would find in shows like Parks and Recreation or The Office. Below are some of the more memorable quotes (the latter two requiring one to hear them to get the full humor through tone):
Offline interviewer to Tom: “Do you ever not respond in sound bytes?”
Employee referring to the owner: “Because he’s so smart and genius, he has trouble relating to normal people”
“Garbage is my passion “
“I don’t want it to be another crafty garbage for crafty garbage people.“
After watching the show from end to end, I concluded the best way to describe the dialogue/interactions is everyone is a minor satire on themselves. By using humor within a documentary style, TerraCycle adopted a different format than other companies to market their brand and cause, and succeeded in being memorable. I highly recommend the company’s website to learn about all the cool things the organization does: http://www.terracycle.com/en-US/
Human Resources airs on Fridays 10 E/P on pivot. For local listings, check out the show website at http://www.pivot.tv/shows/human-resources
Images source: pivot.tv