Is the nature of mature cartoons about to change? Shows like Rick and Morty and Midnight Gospel still dominate the landscape, offering genre storytelling for more mature audiences within the medium of animation. The brand-new Alpha Betas, however, looks to achieve the same with a comparable animation style and approach to comedy. Except rather than big-name voice actors, it instead stars famous YouTubers as they celebrate gaming culture by way of a wacky sci-fi premise.
Can these popular YouTube personalities capitalize on their new kind of star power to tell more traditional animated stories? We’ll find out very soon when Alpha Betas begins streaming on YouTube.
Here’s everything we know about Alpha Betas — including why it should be on your radar if you’re a fan of shows like Rick and Morty.
What is Alpha Betas?
In the universe of Alpha Betas, video games secretly power the world thanks to a top-secret CIA program, which in turn makes top-tier gamers some of the most important assets on the planet. When things go awry within video games, it messes with the power levels on the grid, so the CIA sends in its Alpha Team of four master gamers into video game worlds. There, they have to fix glitches and other anomalies to restore power. Official descriptions, however, describe these would-be heroes as “willfully reckless and dangerously arrogant,” so expect plenty of hijinks and asinine behavior along the way.
The core plot hook is pretty ideal for an easygoing “heist of the week” approach to episodic storytelling. Alpha Team will probably enter a different video game each week, satirizing the biggest trends in gaming along the way. It’ll be easy for the series to lampoon everything from Red Dead Redemption 2 to Call of Duty — and a whole lot more.
The show was created by Chris Bruno and David Lee (from Facebook’s Human Discoveries) and animated by Starburns Industries, the award-winning studio behind Rick and Morty. The overall art style is vaguely reminiscent of Adult Swim’s widely loved sci-fi series about an alcoholic mad scientist and his hapless grandson, but it more closely resembles the art style of Bryan Lee O'Malley, creator of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Who is in the Alpha Betas cast?
Alpha Betas was created in collaboration with several YouTube content creators, namely VanossGaming (Evan Fong), BasicallyIDoWrk (Marcel Cunningham), I AM WILDCAT (Tyler Wine), and Terroriser (Brian Hanby). With more than 40 million subscribers between them, this group not only helps produce the show, but they also voice the main cast of Alpha Team.
Fong plays Eddie, Hanby plays Buck, Wine plays Tommy, and Cunningham plays Mason. Each character seems like a spirited riff on their real-life personalities except they’re “willfully reckless and dangerously arrogant.”
Additional voices are provided by Chris Parnell, Paget Brewster, Stephanie Beatriz, John DiMaggio, and Brent Morin. Rick and Morty fans will probably recognize Parnell as the voice of Jerry Smith, Morty’s hapless father from Rick and Morty. Brewster was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her work on DuckTales as Della Duck. In addition to playing Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Stephanie Beatriz has also lent her voice to a variety of animated series from BoJack Horseman to DuckTales and the ongoing Devil May Care. DiMaggio has voiced several Rick and Morty characters previously, along with many other characters across film and TV.
All things considered, the behind-the-scenes talent involved with Alpha Betas has a certain pedigree that could help make the series a real hit if it finds a dedicated audience.
Is there an Alpha Betas trailer?
The official trailer for Alpha Betas was released on February 11, 2021 and it serves as a pretty raucous introduction to the concept and characters.
“What I’m about to show you will change how you see the world,” a female CIA agent says in the opening piece of voiceover for the trailer. This is intercut with scenes on the beaches of Normandy, a fort in the Wild West, and a futuristic prison full of aliens. (Each of these is no doubt a different game world.)
“Are you telling me we’re powering the country with video games?” Chris Parnell’s character asks at the CIA Energy Division. (Could he be a newly inaugurated president learning about this initiative for the first time, or some lesser figure in mainstream government?) The female agent introduces the man to Alpha Team, the “elite virtual strike force.” Then we see the group transported inside a Wild West-themed game. “Sending them inside the game makes them part of the code,” she explains. “They can do everything the average player can’t.”
The trailer also introduces us to the main characters, each of whom is incredibly arrogant and outrageous in their own ways. They get up to some truly bonkers shenanigans on their adventures, but hey, at least they’re saving the world?
WILDCAT also released this exclusive scene on March 1, 2021.
WILDCAT also released an exclusive scene on March 1, 2021 in which Alpha Team tries to smuggle all sorts of contraband through CIA security. Clearly, these heroes DGAF about protocol.
BasicallyIDoWrk released a second exclusive scene at “The General Store” on March 3, 2021 in which Alpha Team loads up with gear in a Wild West theme game as they prepare to assault a heavily fortified fort.
Terroriser also published an exclusive scene called “Follow Mission,” in which Buck embarks on a follow mission within a game that is very clearly Grand Theft Auto. He’s supposed to follow a drug dealer to its source without being detected. Rather than have the patience to deal with an NPC bumping into a wall over and over, he blows up the NPC with a grenade.
When is the Alpha Betas release date?
The pilot episode of Alpha Betas will be released on March 13, 2021.
Where can I watch Alpha Betas?
Episode 1 will be released on VanossGaming’s YouTube channel, but subsequent episodes might be released elsewhere.
“Plans for future content are still in the works and will be heavily influenced by how fans engage with and react to the pilot episode,” an official release reads. Based on this, it seems possible — even likely — that subsequent episodes may air on BasicallyIDoWrk, I AM WILDCAT, and Terroriser’s YouTube channels.
Alpha Betas premieres on March 13, 2021.