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.
Shop the Story
"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.
On Black & Highly Flavored, co-hosts Derek Kirk and Tamara Celeste shine a light on the need-to-know movers and shakers of our food & beverage industry.
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.