The Death of Super Deluxe Is Terrible News for the Internet

Why does everything good go away?

The internet is a pretty dark place. It’s like a Hieronymus Bosch painting of hell except that it’s of Pepe the Frog selling cryptocurrency to Incels. Until Friday, October 19, Super Deluxe was a bright spot in a scary place.

Roughly three years after the L.A.-based online comedy network was revived by Turner Media, its parent company announced it was pulling the plug. In a statement published by Deadline, Turner (which was recently acquired by AT&T), said, “…[T]here are now massive changes in the social[-] and mobile-first ecosystem and duplication with other business units in our new WarnerMedia portfolio. Super Deluxe found inspiring ways of connecting with a new generation and many of their best practices will be adopted by other Turner properties as we redirect this investment back into our portfolio.”

As a brand, Super Deluxe mastered the art of harnessing all of the internet’s most nihilistic tendencies and turning them into something smart and diametrically opposed to the mindless malice that runs rampant online. In a statement on Instagram, Dimitri Simakis, who oversaw short-form video at Super Deluxe beginning in early 2016, said, “My goal at the beginning was to make online videos for people who hate online videos, and we never pandered to our audience or treated them like idiots. Of course that meant the old white men at the top never quite understood what we were doing, but in a way—that was the point.”

The brand’s website and social media channels became repositories for Vic Berger’s brilliant videos, which use editing and a beautifully timed airhorn sound effect to mock their subjects (Donald Trump, Jim Bakker, and Steve Harvey are frequent fodder). Teenage Stepdad turned your dickhead uncle’s aesthetic—blind patriotism, trashy paperbacks, and nostalgia for the year Top Gun was released—into memes for Millennials. And on the series Cheap Thrills, host Tabasko Sweet taught the audience how to DIY their own Gucci slides and Supreme hats.

One of Super Deluxe’s most ambitious undertakings was its live telenovela, a Spanish-language soap opera performed in real time so an audience on Facebook could vote and decide what direction the storyline would go in. When I covered the live taping back in 2017, the show’s emcee, Cyrus Ghahremani, credited the content’s “deliberate dumbness” for its popularity. But it takes smart people to make something that’s intentionally dumb and not just totally boring.

As the denizens of the internet’s darkest corners pull on their Fred Perry polos for a little IRL mischief-makin’ and as aging white guys make sure a dying patriarchy gets its nourishment via feeding tube, we’re increasingly reliant on humor. And not just levity for levity’s sake, but the kind of humor that reminds us we’re not crazy, the people in charge are; that creatives are cool and fascists are dorks; that Millennials aren’t just a bunch of Tide Pod-eating morons. Super Deluxe signed off with a meme that says, “Nothing has ever been real.” If it was all a dream, I’m sleeping in.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to accurately reflect Cyrus Ghahremani role in the live telenovela. 

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