The Adventure Zone: Graduation Ep. 36: Reunions
March 25, 2021 1:51 PM - Subscribe

With all the hustle and bustle of life, it's so easy to lose touch. That's why it's nice when there's an important life event (two gods trying to open a rift to hell) to bring us all together! So, let's get connected! Send a g-mail! Visit someone's house! Tear down these walls!
posted by Tevin (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's been a while since I posted about TAZ because I just don't have anything positive to say and I didn't want to be overly negative.

That being said, I am curious how others are feeling as we head into the home stretch. I won't be posting any other episodes until the finale but I am interested to hear what y'all have to say at this point in the back half (quarter? eighth? idk)?
posted by Tevin at 1:53 PM on March 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

"Earthplane Mode" might have made the whole thing worth it. They could have ended the season right then and there and I'd have been happy.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:49 PM on March 25, 2021

I honestly gave up several episodes ago. I'm just waiting for the new one and for Travis to never GM anything again.
posted by Scattercat at 9:31 PM on March 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think they'd do well playing GMless games like Fiasco! but a lot of those would be a hard sell for their primarily mainstream audience.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:45 AM on March 26, 2021

I gave up quite a while ago. I had never listened to TAZ and decided to try it out. The first few Graduation eps got me excited so I started listening to Balance also. Eventually I realized that Graduation was doing nothing for me, so I gave it up and just listened to Balance and have now moved on to NADDPOD.

Graduation has just been really dull and I haven't heard anything that makes me want to try and hop back in.
posted by PussKillian at 8:35 AM on March 26, 2021

I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I came in with an open mind and stuck with it even though it wasn't Balance, it was its own thing, but as long as it was just the boys having fun and making jokes I was OK with whatever the wrapper around that happened to be, but it is not even that anymore. Griffin & Justin's lights are hidden under a bushel and I don't like to hear that.
posted by bleep at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I wasn't just open to it. I was *super excited* about the concept, and the character intros were extremely fun.

But the longer time went on, the clearer it became that this was the Travis Story Hour and anything the players did that was not the "correct" thing was either immediately erased or ignored. There kept being glimmers that hinted that he was learning and improving, but he always backslid immediately, sometimes within the same episode. I finally just got fed up. The boy needs to learn to murder his darlings, swallow his schemes, and be a *game master*, not a storyteller. Challenge the characters, let them choose, let them take risks, and let them break stuff. The story will come from that.

When he's a player, it's manageable; it's actually great when players really love their characters and are super interested in all of their aspects and want to play them and talk about them. I don't even mind if he fudges his rolls to be cooler and more successful, because usually that makes for a more fun story anyway. But that all carried over into his GMing, where it is absolute poison to fun, narrative, and play.
posted by Scattercat at 12:36 PM on March 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was excited in the middle but then Travis took over and told that story basically solo instead of whatever he had planned before. Just waiting for it to be over (so glad Griffin’s DMing a D&D campaign next) and holding on for the handful of gags from Justin and Griffin when I don’t have a better podcast to listen to.

The McElroy fandom at large is so defensive about any critiques of Travis but like, you don’t have to pretend that he’s good at everything. It’s fine to say his strengths aren’t in DMing.

Griffin’s conversation with Brennan of Dimension 20 is... illuminating, when looked at from a certain angle, one that’s a little more critical of this campaign.
posted by supercres at 3:16 PM on March 28, 2021

As for this episode, the Gmail scene was the only bit I found enjoyable to listen to.
posted by supercres at 3:19 PM on March 28, 2021

Gita Jackson did a great article about the McElroys that lays out a lot of what people are feeling about the current state of the McElroy Brand Family.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:58 AM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

From that article: In other words, some fans take the “no bummers” policy as a cue to shut down legitimate criticism

I always thought this was a very weird phenomenon. I heard it mentioned in the facebook group a lot but I have never actually seen anyone do it, nor do I understand why would you take a request someone made about the content of their improv comedy show and then apply it to a stranger making a comment on a forum. The 2 things have nothing to do with each other.
posted by bleep at 4:22 PM on March 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

The only negative criticism I think should get shut down is when an entire thread is negative and nobody can think of 1 thing to say they enjoyed about something, because then it's like folks what are we doing here. Some of us are trying to have a good time.
posted by bleep at 4:39 PM on March 30, 2021

Yeah I listen to MBMBAM and TAZ but I'm not super deep into the McElroy fandom, so it seems wild that a rule from their live shows where they don't want shitty unvetted questions could become a blanket rule for everything McElroy related.

I understand the complaints about performative allyship (aka virtue signalling) but during Travis's "I'm not gay but this guy is hot" kerfuffle I saw one person complain that Travis dying his hair and painting his nails while being straight and cis was queer appropriation. The bottom line is there are a lot of folks who really, really want the McElroys to fuck up so they can say "See I knew there was a reason I didn't like them." Apparently they did not get the memo that says it's totally okay to not like something even if it checks a lot of progressive boxes.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:13 PM on March 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

I can understand not wanting to read page after page of criticism, but I find the interesting parts here to be "why is this bad?" (or more charitably, "why is this not working for me?"). For something like DMing a game of D&D it's especially illuminating, where you have a whole community of people who can look at examples of what not to do in their own games.

Justin's quotes from the Motherboard article were interesting. The points in this campaign where he's put his frustration into the recording have been like 👀👀

An adjacent FB group I'm in that's not shy about McElroy criticism (mostly constructive) had a thread on this article where several people predicted an overall content hiatus, which now that I'm thinking about it would not surprise me.
posted by supercres at 11:27 AM on March 31, 2021

I think one of them mentioned they'd be going on a little hiatus soon because of Griffin's paternity leave which I think will be good because they haven't gotten any of the little breaks that the live shows used to give them.
posted by bleep at 11:57 AM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't know what kind of hiatus they're planning on, but Griffin and Rachel's baby boy just arrived. It would be nice if that meant at least a few weeks of best-of shows to give them a break. They've apparently been pretaping the next TAZ season, which I assume means Graduation has wrapped behind the scenes.

I tend to get sucked in a bit by the parasocial side of podcasts, so while I don't quite feel that way with the family, I definitely get it. I don't know how you walk that line where your work and your personality are so entwined. I know occasionally movie stars get caught where their onscreen performance and their personalities don't mesh and it makes their fans upset, but podcasts have an even greater level of intimacy bound up in them.
posted by PussKillian at 11:57 AM on March 31, 2021

Sorry, yes, I meant in the sense of extending the paternity hiatus or taking another one shortly thereafter. And it's all just speculation beyond what they've already announced.
posted by supercres at 2:17 PM on March 31, 2021

I keep forgetting that they're actually very close to the end of Graduation. Definitely feels like they're rushing to finish it, and also it's wild to think that it's going to end up being longer than Amnesty.

I really wish they would change the format of TAZ so that all four of them are players and they're playing with a non-McElroy GM.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:33 PM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

That is an excellent idea. Tiny Heist and Dadlands were great, Mercer wasn't bad.
posted by supercres at 3:46 PM on March 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Just listened to last week’s Wonderful. Maybe it’s just the headspace and assumptions I brought in but Griffin was a little cagey about his plans for the next TAZ campaign.
posted by supercres at 6:00 PM on March 31, 2021

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