Food Biz

At Long Last, Starbucks' First Original Animated Series Is Here

December 16, 2016

Coffee chain-turned-content creator Starbucks continues its march into the big, bad world of digital media with “1st & Main,” an original animated webseries that debuted today. It's a series of seven 90-second shorts, each of which will be rolled out every Friday moving forward.

"1st & Main" is the brainchild of three writers from The Simpsons—Joel Cohen, John Frink, and Rob LaZebnik. The three are friends who routinely work out of a Starbucks shop on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, quietly observing the store's clientele. They've based the show's cast of anthropomorphic animals on the patrons they people-watch. There’s a salt-of-the-earth beagle named Chet; Julie, the bear who's the store manager; and Diego, the gently hipsterish, tattooed cat barista with a man bun. (May all our baristas be cat baristas!) Here's the first episode:

This web series isn't the company's first time at the online content rodeo. In September, the company debuted "Upstanders," a podcast and short film series that went to great lengths to tell the stories of American do-gooders trying to foster "positive change." Some episodes were more successful than others—its flagship episode, about the tensions between Muslim and Christian communities, really made me cringe.

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"Upstanders" is fresh in my mind, and I've still got memories of last year's myopically disastrous "Race Together" campaign. Crucially, though, "1st & Main" seems to take itself a bit less seriously than these initiatives. The series seeks to “highlight the warm and familiar moments that happen in Starbucks stores across the country, every day,” a Starbucks representative told me. By evidence of these ninety seconds, I'd say it's fulfilling that directive. If I must offer my “take” on these ninety seconds of "1st & Main," I’d say it’s very sweet. And oh, poor Chet!

New episodes of "1st & Main" debut every Friday here.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.