In addition to the human characters, Viridian Dynamics the company plays a huge role in the series because the mandates coming from the nameless, faceless, upper-level corporate suits always drive the plot. We get a glimpse of the two-faced nature of the company in the form of fake Viridian Dynamics commercials at the start of each episode. They're subtle digs at corporate America filled with stock photos of happy faces, technological gadgets and nature. One highlight is the ad that ran in the episode, "Racial Sensitivity." As images of smiling white people fill the screen, a voice-over announces Viridian Dynamics' vow to have a racially diverse workforce. And after a close-up shot of two white workers shaking hands, we hear the company tagline: "Viridian Dynamics. Diversity. Good for us."
The show is filled with great examples of soulless corporate thinking and backwards logic. For example, when a computer glitch erased Ted's identity from company records, instead of simply re-entering the data, Ted was given the run-around and had to commit corporate espionage just to get back the job he didn't lose in the first place. In another instance, Veronica wanted to hire Ted's daughter to accompany her when she had to fire someone, thinking that the worker wouldn't want to cry in front of a little kid, thus making her job easier. Finally, when Linda felt office morale would improve if workers were allowed to decorate their cubicles, Veronica was happy to respond with four company-approved cubicle themes assigned to random employees: Cats, Space, Cars and the Green Bay Packers.
But in terms of soulless decision-making, the episode, "Racial Sensitivity" was the strongest of the season because of how it mocked big business' penchant for coming up with asinine solutions to easy problems. In the episode, Viridian Dynamics installed a money-saving motion-detection system that would trigger lights and activate doors. Unfortunately, it couldn't detect black people, which led to Lem being trapped overnight in the lab with the lights off. Instead of a replacing the system, the company decided to hire minimum-wage white workers to follow black workers around to trigger the sensors. This led to a racial discrimination suit on behalf of minimum-wage black workers which led to Viridian Dynamics coming to the conclusion that they would have to hire every worker in the world to maintain equality. And so, only after this exaggerated calculation did they decide to swap out the original system.
Better Off Ted had a short but solid run of seven episodes. Hopefully, ABC will realize what they have and give it another chance. For those of you who miss the quick, subtle humor you found on Arrested Development or who feel The Office gets a bit gloomy at times, ignore the terrible pun in the title and check this show out when you can.
Edit: Starting June 23rd the last 6 episodes of this season will run, and a 2nd season has been commissioned for 2010