Let’s be honest, YouTube Premium Originals are bad. Really bad. By employing former Vine stars and YouTube personalities who have no acting skills whatsoever, the shows and movies themselves are basically writing “Do Not Watch” on the thumbnail. Either that, or the content is way too thrilled by its own originality that it overreaches and completely botches expectations. (I’m looking at you, Bodied.) But finally, from the seemingly hopeless platform rises a new hero in the form of 16-year-old badass Wayne.
Taking a no-nonsense attitude to life, Wayne and his new girlfriend, Del, set out to Ocala, Florida to retrieve his father’s 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, which was stolen by his mother, her boyfriend, and his stepbrother. Their journey is full of heart and heartbreak, both being incredibly earned, which is a fantastic hiatus from the usually rushed plot pattern that a lot of YouTube’s productions follow. We get to witness a lot of hardcore justice in the form of righteous ass beatings dealt out by our titular hero to those deserving of it. The key moments in the series are not grounded in action, however, but rather in the amazing acting from Mark McKenna and Ciara Bravo, who play Wayne and Del, respectively. McKenna is relatively unknown, with his most notable work coming from the J.J. Abrams-produced 2018 “D-Day” film, Overlord. Bravo, however, has appeared in many works from Angels & Demons to Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, as well as a minor role in a season five episode of Marvel’s Agents of Shield. Although they seem to only have experience in minor roles, the two are truly spectacular in the roles that they play. On the exterior, they show themselves to be total rebels, smart-mouthing cheeky waitresses and assaulting bullies, but throughout the series also show themselves to be vulnerable in a lot of the positions that they find themselves in due to past experiences and heartbreaks.
Though there are a lot of good things to say about Wayne, there are also some negatives that must be mentioned. The main issue with the setup of the series is pacing. Everything in the first episode seems to go by too quickly, which is not great. It feels like it should have been split into two, with the episode’s first half setting up the world of Wayne and utilizing its fantastic cast to show how Wayne operates and what he thinks in specific (and very comedic) situations. The second half should have been written to show us why Wayne decided to go to Florida to get his father’s car back, as well as to establish how important Del is to him. Although the first episode was rushed, the second episode and on don’t suffer from the same problem. The lesson being that sometimes a minor pacing problem in the opening act does not always doom the production.
Among the many evil-doers they encounter, one of the baddest bad guys comes in the form of Del’s father, only referred to as “Daddy,” played by Dean Winters (Oz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Along with Del’s brothers, twins Carl and Teddy, Daddy tracks Wayne and Del to Florida, seeking to exact revenge on Wayne after being assaulted by him, and retrieve his daughter. For most of the series, Daddy serves primarily as comedic relief, specifically during one memorable fight scene featuring a very popular Vanessa Carlton song, but he also shows a lot of emotion and sensitivity, especially in the presence of his daughter. In that you can see just how special Del is to him compared to her brothers, whom he refers to as “morons” for the full season.
Wayne is a must-watch series that effectively proves that YouTube Premium can make decent, well-developed content. Here’s hoping for a follow-up season.