In the overstuffed prestige TV landscape, it’s easy to miss something that otherwise might have become one of your favorite shows. When YouTube announced an original programming channel, most of the news cycle was centered on the brilliant Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai—which just finished filming its third season. But this week, YouTube revealed that it was scaling back on its scripted series, meaning that some of the lesser-known shows, like the vigilante road trip dramedy Wayne, would be seeking new homes.
What is Wayne? Well, let’s just say that the writers of Deadpool produced one of the best TV shows of the decade and you’ve probably never seen it. Luckily, you can watch the complete first episode below…
Created by Shawn Simmons and produced by Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Wayne shares some obvious thematic similarities with the Merc with a Mouth—mainly that he can take a (few hundred) punch(es) and will go to extreme lengths for justice. But where Wade Wilson’s adventures are often crude and ridiculous, Wayne’s are thoughtful and often heartbreakingly real.
The story centers on Wayne (Mark McKenna), a teenage boy who after the death of his father decides that he’s going to reclaim his dad’s beloved Trans Am from the man who stole it from him. Before he leaves, he meets Del (Ciara Bravo), a young girl who lives with her abusive dad and annoying brothers. By the time the credits roll at the end of the first episode, the two have left their hometown of Brockton, MA and are on the road to a lot of very violent and often hilarious adventures.
Although Wayne is currently 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and the first episode has been watched 27 million times, the extremely niche platform of YouTube Originals meant that the show was rarely spoken about outside of those who’d seen it—even though practically anyone who watched it immediately became a fan. Wayne is a show that seems brilliantly suited for 2019; it’s a series about violence, class, poverty, love, hope, and friendship. At every turn, the series subverts the idea of what a show about a violent man can be, as Wayne only fights when he needs to, and writer Simmons uses the seemingly routine story to explore the effects of violence against women and the ways that people survive all kinds of abuse, neglect, and grief.
McKenna and Bravo give powerhouse performances that make the show constantly engaging, and it helps that Wayne is a hero that you’re constantly rooting for. The road trip setup means that we get to see Del and Wayne facing all kinds of obstacles, memories, and enemies in different places every episode, and the direction gives the show a uniquely bleak and beautiful look, which alongside its brilliant fight choreography, makes the series stand out. If you’ve been enjoying the dark humor and satire of The Boys and loved the vigilante anti-heroism of The Punisher but are looking for a hero you can fall in love with and root for in a story that will stay with you long after you finish watching, then make sure to check out Wayne.
Though it hurts that Wayne won’t be continuing his bloody adventures on YouTube Originals, the series is looking for a new home. So if you check out Wayne and love it, make sure you make a whole lot of noise and then hopefully it’ll find a new space to thrive and connect with the massive audience it deserves.
Images: YouTube Originals