“These are the roads we travel…” says Ora TV’s newest pseudo-non-scripted-but-at-times-scripted series “Wayward Nation” in its opening credits, “and the ‘American Dream’ is dead.” So that’s exactly what the series, co-created by Eric Rusch and Mikey McManus, sets out to explore — what is the new “American Dream” and who are the inspirational innovators, dreamers, and entrepreneurs defining it?
You might recall we covered the trailer premiere earlier in March and the deal with Ora TV. But lucky for VideoInk, Ora TV also screened five of the series’ 12 episodes at this year’s SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, giving us a first look at the series and a bit of “alone time” with the “bros behind the show” (Eric and Mikey, who also hosts the show with pal Ethan, Pinz, and Andy).
After watching the episodes and then sitting with the guys, here’s a tip — watch “Wayward Nation” if you’re ready for your wanderlust to shift into overdrive or if you’re on the fence about staying in that boring desk job instead of changing the world with a social good startup.
The series manages to combine the thrill of spontaneous travel, as if that’s not inspiring enough, with palpable insights into the lives of entrepreneurs truly “changing the world” in a way that feels TV-ready. From Fuck Cancer founder Yael Cohen to rejection therapist Jia Jang, the guys venture cross-country in an RV, “also born of the 80’s” to meet with entrepreneurs. Most shows of this nature can feel overly promotional, but “Wayward Nation” manages to capture an organic story that only occasionally misses the mark on digging below the surface level — perhaps a side effect of the short-form nature of the series and editing limitations.
Unscripted for the most part, the show incorporates sporadic “sketches” that are hyper-scripted and over-performed, at times confusing the viewer as to whether “Wayward Nation” suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. While the sketches do occasionally feel contrived, the camaraderie shared between Mikey and his friends and beautiful cinematography compensate in keeping the viewer engaged.
One thing is clear from watching “Wayward Nation,” McManus and Rusch’s television and film experience has resulted in a winning format that translates well for online audiences.
The show premieres exclusively on Ora TV on March 26th, 2014.