"A lot of my taste is from the internet, and the people I look up to now are just as old as me.”
You know the introduction: now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. Remove the banana stand from every episode of Arrested Development and add in a transit van trailing across the United States. Remove the disgraced Bluth family and add in a guitarist named Kyle who refuses to take off his neck pillow until Spencer Allan, musician and star of the show, pretends to strangle him. Remove the surreal narrative that ends up discernibly paralleling modern politics, and add in the same guy in a neck pillow exclaiming he is only allergic to baloney and “all of this stress”, as he shoves the final mouthful of a three-meat sandwich into his mouth, lying horizontally across the back seats of the van.
This is the pilot episode of Van TV, and like any good reality television show, it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. It’s the first in a series that the latest addition to 4AD’s roster, Spencer., has pioneered from the slow-paced days that punctuate life on the road. The first big plot twist to the action comes when Kyle, neck pillow around his neck, slowly walks in front of the television propped up on the backseat, where the rest of the band are playing video games. “Why did he do that?” read the subtitles, correcting the former image of a group of friends that all got along with each other. The deafening silence is finally broken when they drive past a huge truck and become star-struck by the size of the vehicle’s tires.
“It was just this really dumb idea we had, to make a reality TV show based on what went on in our tour van. It’s a lot of improv. It’s kinda funny,” laughs Spencer, aware that he’s released as many episodes of this soft-hitting new drama as he has songs on his new label. It’s broadcast on the yet-to-really-take-off IGTV, and maybe this could be what the platform’s needed. Gracefully somersaulting himself from the backseat to have a serious chat with the driver, Spencer.’s sincere expression is a constant ‘pleading face’ emoji, staring at a miniature puppet of Beaker from the Muppets, that occasionally makes its way into the camera shot. “You didn’t really need to bring up the tires, you know we’re all upset about the tires.”