I’m a tremendous fan of Neo Yokio, the Netflix original brainchild from Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend fame. The original six episode run was a tight satire of classism, existential diaspora, and consumerist culture. The Christmas special, Pink Christmas, is a brilliant addition to the series, even if the story told is “non-canon.”
Following the tradition of so many Christmas specials of yore, the bulk of Pink Christmas isn’t actually taking place, it’s being told as a bedside story to Kaz by his faithful butler Charles (thus: non-canon). I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the sheer powerhouse the cast of this show contains:
The highlight of the Pink Christmas is Richard Ayoade’s (Moss from IT Crowd) Sales Clerk Herbert. Herbert’s worship of his upper crust clientele is at the forefront of this story, and his disposability at the whims of their consumerist moods sets up an intriguing layer of commentary on the “demons” that plague Neo Yokio. It’s not exactly subtle, but satire doesn’t need to be.
Neo Yokio comments incisively on how easily just about everything can be monetized in our society, even love and charity (ref: “The Angelo Christmas Challenge, hashtag ACC”). These ever shifting yens of consumerism, and the ebbs and flows of spending that result from them leave the people on the bottom rungs vulnerable to the consequences of the passing fancies among the wealthy.
Capitalism and socioeconomic classes resulting from it is a man made system. Demons oppose man. Thus, demons in Neo Yokio oppose the capitalist and classist system on which the city functions. Are the demons really evil or just contrarian? It’s a pretty brilliant bit of line blurring, especially with Kaz’s own inner conflict at an earth shattering revelation- which again, is not canon.
Pink Christmas was only an hour long and felt as complete as the preceding six episode novella of a series. It says something that as tight as the original six episodes were, Pink Christmas wastes no time at continuing and expanding on its universe and characters so effectively that this installment feels robust while leaving me wanting more.
I’m even more excited to see where a full second season takes Kaz Kaan, and I’m excited to hear his discourse on the elegance of cable knit sweaters, just as much as I am to hear Helena’s acidic takedowns of his materialism.