Unproductive is a comedy-drama web series, which takes place in Brooklyn College, which is the college that I go to. The show’s creator was Professor Brian Dunphy. The show centers on students from the Television and Radio department. For each season, they have characters, both old and new, working on a radio show. The characters of Unproductive would often argue with each other, crack jokes, and try to resolve whatever issues they’re dealing with. The web series has lasted for four seasons now and will continue on with its fifth season.
When I got into watching this web series, I didn’t start with first two seasons. In fact, I started with the third season. When I started my first class in Television and Radio, I knew nothing of Unproductive until I was required to watch it. Though with a title like Unproductive, I could tell what the characters would be like. I watched the entire third season and I got completely hooked. I really like the show and the characters that are in it. Two of my friends from Kingsborough Community College appeared on the show. Stacy Brooke played an extra during the third season and Jonathan Dingle-El played a major character in the fourth season.
The third season of Unproductive begins with Roxy Midnight talking live on her own radio show. She is vulgar, rude, sarcastic, and a little condescending. She was particularly mean towards Kelly, who was the host of her own cooking radio show. My first impression of her is that she is a terrible person. But I was too quick to judge her character. In George Rodman’s Mass Media in a Changing World, Roxy would be characterized as a shock jock. Most shock jocks say terrible things that could spark up some controversy. For example, Danny Baker has known for saying things that are awful, which is what lead to him being fired five times. But that is not the case for Roxy.
During her show, she mainly talks about her distaste for today’s society and encourages everyone to follow their own path and never let anything weigh them down. Roxy hardly listens to anyone who works at her show, even Austin, who was the producer and a very close friend of hers. Austin mainly just bleeps out the curse words Roxy says on her show. Austin is also expecting a child with his girlfriend, Claire. Austin is trying his best to keep Roxy from doing anything that could cause some criticism, especially since Roxy only has three more shows to do before she and Austin graduate.
I kind of understand what Austin was trying to do. He does care about Roxy and she is going to the godmother of his child. Austin also spends his days at the radio station listening to Dylan, who is the comic relief. Dylan tries to pitch new ideas that could help improve Roxy’s show but is coldly rebuffed by Austin. Dylan spends most of his time chatting with Emily. Emily is, by far, my most favorite character on the show. I like her a lot because she is the kind of character I can relate to. I was very much like her a while back. I was timid, shy and nervous. And, like Emily, I have friends who supported me and pushed to be my best. Emily mainly just wants to help Roxy improve on her show. Roxy wanted what’s best for Emily. She wanted Emily to stop being a silent bystander and to speak up for herself.
Roxy wanted to do the next show about transgender rights. Austin agrees but only if she agrees to co-host with Michael McGarry, who is the captain of KMC’s basketball team. Although she was hesitant at first, Roxy agreed to do it. Later, Austin’s long time friend, Alex, offered him a new position as a radio producer assistant at 98 FM. Alex visited the station to observe Roxy co-hosting with Michael.
Austin then asked Alex, who is married and raising a baby himself, what it is like to be a parent. Alex compared parenting to the movie Armageddon. He said that a baby is like an asteroid that will destroy everything on an extinction-level. He’s basically saying that Austin will have a miserable life raising his baby. I started not liking Alex from the moment he said that because that’s not what Austin wants to hear before he becomes a father. And who compares a cute baby to a life-threatening event? As Emily stated herself, children are a gift from God. After that scene, Alex became my second least favorite character.
When Roxy heard the news that Austin was offered a new job at the 98 FM, she became very angry and frustrated. But she manages to cool herself and prepares to co-host with Michael. My first impression of Michael McGarry is that he’s nice, funny and charming. Things appeared to be going well for Roxy co-hosting with Michael. Later, they received a call from a woman named Valerie who accuses Michael of drugging and taking an advantage of her during a celebration party. She reported this to Coach Crestwood and the administration, but they didn’t listen to her, so she decided to expose Michael during the radio show so everyone can hear.
Michael denies the accusation, but Emily found Valerie in a classroom and messaged Roxy, confirming that Valerie was telling the truth. Roxy then punches Michael to the ground. This was my second favorite scene from the third season. I will say, as obviously fake punches go, it wasn’t that bad. In an article from The Excelsior, Professor Brian Dunphy, the show’s creator, explains that they planned the sexual assault part of the third season before Harvey Weinstein and many others were exposed and even before the Me Too movement, which kind of surprises me because I thought they were influenced by it.
After the incident, Roxy was prohibited from continuing on with her show before she graduates, Austin lost his new position, and worst of all, the administration refuses to remove Michael from the basketball team. Roxy is so angry that administration cares more about the basketball championship than a woman’s life. Austin, angry and frustrated with Roxy, accuses her of being selfish and reckless. Roxy explains that she did it not do it for herself but for all the women who suffered at the hands of men like Michael. Austin confronts her not for punching Michael but rather for not thinking about the consequences of her actions. The conversation ended with the two of them refusing to speak with each other.
Meanwhile, Dylan and Emily try to cope with both the idea of not doing Roxy’s show anymore, and the administration’s inaction towards Michael’s assault on Valerie. Then, they find out that KMC community is forming a justice group to defend Roxy’s actions. They later appeared as guests on Kelly’s cooking show. Emily gives a really powerful speech and then she asked everyone at the school to join a justice rally.
This was my favorite from the entire third season because this is the moment when Emily finally developed the courage to say what needed to be heard. A lot people attend at the rally and Roxy felt so incredibly honored. Dylan and Valerie decided to do new radio show with Emily as its host. Roxy appears as guest despite be forbidden from hosting radio show. Both Roxy and Emily discussed that they wanted the administration to do something about Michael McGarry and not let him go unpunished and let everyone at the school know that they’re not alone and that with their help, they could fight injustice. Eventually, the administration agreed to remove Michael from the basketball team. In the end, Roxy and Austin apologized to each other and reconciled.
The fourth season of Unproductive begins with Emily preparing to host her new show. She is no longer the silent bystander as she was in previous season but she is still every bit as nervous as she was before. Valerie, who is now the producer of her show, supports her. Kelly and Dylan also supported her. Dylan role in this season is not as big as it was in the last season but his personality hasn’t changed. Roxy and Austin are no longer in the show as they graduated in the previous season. Roxy appeared in a very short cameo in the fourth episode.
The new characters introduced in this season are Trent and Winona. Trent, who was portrayed by my friend Jonathan Dingle-El, becomes the new captain of KMC basketball, replacing Michael McCarty. I think the scene that first introduced Trent was little odd. I find the whole idea that Trent was reading a newspaper while sitting in the hallway and then hides his face as Valerie walks by to be a little weird. Trent later became Valerie’s sparring partner and love interest. The scenes of Valerie and Trent forming a bond and eventually falling in love were the highlights of this season for me.
Later, everyone in the school finds out that Michael McCarty has plead not guilty for his assault on Valerie, which is not surprising. Cowards who commit sexual assault rarely plead guilty. When Valerie finds out that Trent is in fact the new basketball captain, the he’s essentially Michael’s successor, she was hesitant to trust him. But eventually, Valerie was able place her trust in Trent and the two later form a relationship.
Emily finds out that her show has been unfavorably received by a lot of listeners and that Valerie and Kelly have been keeping this secret from her. Angry and frustrated, Emily decides to quit her own show. After that, Valerie and Kelly find out that despite the negative comments that show has received, a lot of people want to know Emily’s whereabouts and are practically begging her to come back. One of her fans was even having thoughts of suicide. Upon hearing this, Emily decides to return to the show. Valerie then advises Emily to just be herself and to stop pretending to be someone else. In the end, Emily has gained an unexpected love interest, which I thought was weird because it happens to be her classmate with whom she barely talks.
After re-watching the third and fourth seasons of Unproductive, I can honestly say my opinion hasn’t changed. Both seasons were great, but the third season is still my favorite, because it delivers a really powerful message to the victims of sexual violence or any kind of violence. And I really love the character of Roxy Midnight. Although she is rude and reckless, she fights for what she believes is right. She also demonstrates that no one should get away with hurting people, even if he is a star player or a famous celebrity. And of course, Emily is still my favorite character. I hope get to see more of her in the next season of Unproductive.
Rodman, George (2004). Mass Media in Changing World (4th Edition). Brooklyn College of CUNY