You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Wired’s ‘Codefellas’ Plays NSA Privacy Flap for Laughs

Condé Nast title bows first scripted series, short-form animated comedy poking fun at government spying

Does a comedy about a government’s Big Brother-like surveillance trivialize the issue — or can deft satire raise awareness of abuses of power?

Either way, Condé Nast is hoping people click on Wired magazine’s first scripted series, “Codefellas,” a 12-segment short-form animated comedy portraying National Security Agency agents as literally cartoonish figures engaged in ludicrous acts of domestic spying.

In a statement, Condé Nast said the show provides “comedic relief in light of current events dominating the national news cycle.”

Earlier this month, a former NSA contractor disclosed details on the agency’s secret electronic-surveillance program, which monitors phone calls and email communications in the U.S. to identify potential terrorist threats. Officials have defended the program as having helped stop multiple terror attacks.

It’s hard to judge at this point whether “Codefellas” is exploiting the situation for quick humor or trying to make a larger political statement, said Sherwin Siy, VP of legal affairs for consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

“It’d be a shame if people started to view pervasive government surveillance as another laughable daily chore, like traffic or boring meetings,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s entirely possible for good comedy to poke at and explore sensitive and enraging issues.”

Popular on Variety

In premiere episode, Special Agent Henry Topple (voiced by John Hodgman) gleefully tells protégé hacker Nicole Winters (Emily Heller), “You and I are going to spy on a lot of innocent people together… We get to watch their lives 24 hours a day — you can’t beat that kind of intimacy.”

“Codefellas” is animated by Flat Black Films, which created the animation for Richard Linklater’s animated films “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly.” Skein is scripted by David Rees (creator of cult comic “Get Your War On”) and producing partner Brian Spinks.

Show is part of a broader push into video by the publishing company’s Condé Nast Entertainment arm, which plans to launch 30 new shows this year across properties including Wired, Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Epicurious and Style.com.

“Codefellas” is available on Wired’s video website and mag’s YouTube channel, with new episodes skedded to appear Fridays. Watch the premiere episode:

SEE ALSO: Condé Nast Pages 30-Plus Internet Video Shows

More Digital

  • Green Day Beat Saber music pack

    Beat Saber Gets Green Day Music Pack, 360-Degree Levels

    Coinciding with Green Day’s performance at the Game Awards, Facebook announced late Thursday that the popular virtual reality game Beat Saber is getting a Green Day music pack. The 6-song pack is slated to go live at midnight, and players will simultaneously get access to Beat Saber’s long-awaited 360-degree gameplay. The Green Day music pack [...]

  • Ghost of Tsushima Trailer

    'Ghost of Tsushima' New Trailer Drops at The Game Awards

    A new full trailer for developer Sucker Punch’s “Ghost of Tsushima” is finally here. The latest substantial footage of the samurai game dropped at The Game Awards Thursday night, marking the first real look at the PS4 exclusive since Sony released a short teaser during its State of Play earlier this week. “Ghost of Tsushima” [...]

  • Ultimate Rivals The Rink - Apple

    Apple Arcade Launches NHL Game That Lets You Put Athletes From Other Sports on the Ice

    Now you can see NBA superstar LeBron James facing off against NHL great Wayne Gretzky in a fast-paced hockey game. In an innovative fantasy mashup for sports gaming fans, Apple Arcade is launching “Ultimate Rivals: The Rink,” a hockey game that lets you pit NHL players against athletes from other sports. The game is available [...]

  • Xbox Series X: Next-Gen Console Revealed

    Microsoft Reveals Next-Gen Console, Xbox Series X, at The Game Awards

    The next-generation Xbox console is officially called the Xbox Series X, and will be released over next year’s holiday season, Microsoft revealed during Thursday night’s The Game Awards. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer took the stage at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater to make the big reveal about the project previously known as Project Scarlett, and [...]

  • The Game Awards

    How to Watch the 2019 Game Awards

    The Game Awards will be taking place on Thursday night and, fittingly, there are plenty of ways to stream the event online. The whole show will be streaming live starting at 5:30 p.m. PT/8:30 p.m. ET from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater on The Game Awards’ YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch pages. Additionally, for the first [...]

  • Neon-Hum-Jonathan-Hirsch

    Sony Music Invests in Podcast Production Firm Neon Hum

    In its latest move into the podcast biz, Sony Music Entertainment announced a strategic investment in podcast production house Neon Hum. Founded by podcast producer Jonathan Hirsch (pictured above), L.A.-based Neon Hum has helped create multiple podcast hits including MSNBC’s “Bag Man” with Rachel Maddow, Dateline NBC’s “The Thing About Pam,” Wondery’s “Room 20,” Crooked [...]

  • Hulu Hopes to Make Ads Part

    Hulu Hopes to Make Ads Part of Your Binge Session

    If you just can’t keep yourself from watching another episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “PEN15,” then Hulu has an ad for you. The streaming-video hub is starting a trial run of new commercials aimed specifically at binge-watchers, which the company defines as subscribers who watch three or more episodes of the same series consecutively. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content