In a world where an evil co-ex-girlfriend, an "infomercial queen," has taken over a super popular YouTube channel in order to sell her products, only one team can stop her (because they kinda have to): Rhett and Link.
This comedy duo, who've been best friends since they met in first grade, have teamed up with YouTube Red to create a brand-new scripted series, a first for the pair. YouTube Red is an ad-free, subscription-based platform that provides viewers with exclusive content.
In Buddy System, an eight-episode series exclusively available on YouTube Red, Rhett and Link have to take back control of their internet empire and go through many fun misadventures, all to stop their mutual ex-girlfriend from leaking a huge secret.
"We wanted to work with YouTube because it made the most sense based on where our audience is," said Rhett McLaughlin. "We thought it'd be fun to play ourselves, with an internet show, and throw in the same kind of ridiculous ideas and songs our fans know from us already."
"Buddy System takes a lot of what worked for us in the past into a new realm and into a scripted musical world," said Link Neal.
"Our audience pretty much peaks in the 18 to 24 range," said McLaughlin. "Most people assume that because our show is on YouTube, then it's most popular with kids. Teenagers are typically our most vocal fan group, and they comment the most, but our core audience are college kids who love weird comedy."
Rhett and Link's particular type of weird comedy has evolved over the years, and most recently they've begun experimenting with new types of videos on different platforms. Earlier this month, they uploaded a kind of parody video on how to create a "Birthday Bean Cake."
In a style that feels similar to other instructional food videos online, a disembodied set of hands teaches viewers how to smash three kinds of frozen beans together. And despite the use of Goya beans, it's not a piece of branded content. At first glance, it might seem like a tongue-in-cheek way to create something with a brand partner, but it really just came out of McLaughlin's love of beans.
"It was uploaded on my birthday, and everyone knows I love beans," said McLaughlin.
"Our hardworking team over at Mythical Entertainment came up with the idea when thinking on other ways to reach people through social media," said Neal. "They just combined Rhett's love of beans with what works on Facebook."
"You're not sure if it's serious, when it first starts out," said McLaughlin. "But then the end is just a mess of beans on a plate. We've done other parody-type videos before, but I think this one did so well because people believed it. And people like beans!"
"It wasn't sponsored by the bean," Neal said, "but we're happy to take their money after the fact. We'll take it posthaste … or post-taste!"
These two creators, who've worked together for so many years, really want to show their fans all the different sides of what they can do.
"Both with Buddy System and this bean video, you get to see how we want to create different things. We want to be experimenting and exploring new ideas," explained Neal. "We can make those bite-sized shareable videos, or we can make a story you can immerse yourself in over eight weeks."
"We thought about the content we connect with the most, and it's TV shows or movies," said McLaughlin. "We wanted to create a new world that people would look forward to seeing each week. We want people to step into this world and say, 'Yes! I like that you're doing this.'"
"You can try all our projects," said Neal. "You can even try to make the bean cake!"