Branded video programming gets a bad name because....well, because a lot of it is really bad. Not terrible from a production standpoint. In 2020, creating slick and professional-appearing programming isn't exactly rocket science. No, bad in the context of being a program that offers the viewer minimal entertainment value in exchange for wading through lots of not-so-subtle branding examples and advertising pitches.
Tastemade does a good job of balancing that tension between entertainment and commerce and the new limited series "The Un-Adventurers" is a solid example of that skillset. The series is a co-production of Tastemade and Hyundai and while it's clear during the show that Hyundai is the brand that's being pitched, it's done in a way that is generally discrete and effective.
"The Un-Adventurers" is built around the fact that more than 35 million Americans have never been out of the state where they were born. Each episode follows the journey of one of those people, who is taken on the trip of their dreams. In episode one, the show highlights the story of Porsha, a single mom from Douglasville, GA. She cleans airplanes for a living, but she's never been on one. She's never even traveled more than 45 minutes or so from her hometown. Granted, she has some challenges. As she explains it, she works the night shift in order to take care of her young son (she's a single mom). And all of her energy is devoted to him, which doesn't leave much time for any trip she might dream of taking.
As part of her adventure, she's driven to Florida, where she rides on a boat and sees the beach for the first time. This is one of the premises for a show that might seem hacky and cloying at first glance. But it's impossible to watch the joy in her face as she experiences things for the first time without getting sucked up into the joy of the moment.
"The Un-Adventurers" is a great way to spend a half hour and do a cleanse of your mind. It's well-made and the Hyundai connection is there just enough make me wish just a little bit that I owned one of the cars.
The show premieres today on Tastemade's web site and its streaming network. There is a new episode dropping next Wednesday and then the show will be on hiatus until new episodes can be safely produced.