How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) review: Netflix's fun, fast-paced show delivers on the addiction its title promises
How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) is hilarious without being silly, poignant without being melodramatic, and it is overflowing with visual panache with its unique appeal being its ability to render the presence of social media in kids’ daily lives.
Germany has been killing it in the Netflix Originals department. After Dark and Dogs of Berlin, we now have How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast), another fun and fast paced show that delivers on the addiction its title promises. This one’s a high school comedy that is based on an outlandish real life incident, and it contains all the elements that made you fall for the streaming platform – high production values, top quality performances, and an ability to get you to binge the whole season.
It seems Netflix has learned from the reception of the terrific The End of the F*cking World, seeing as this one too is a quick watch at just six episodes of twenty-ish minutes each – which works in its favour and becomes very stress free entertainment. We’re introduced to a small town in Germany, where young and nerdy Moritz (Maximilian Mundt) is struggling to cope with high school because his girlfriend has just dumped him, and is seemingly interested in the stereotypically handsome and athletic rich boy of the school. In his attempt to win her back, Moritz stumbles across some drugs, and the only logical solution he can think of is setting up a business of selling said drugs with his computer wizardry.
Since this is based on a true story, it’s hard to gauge how many creative liberties the makers have taken to render the show. Not a lot of implausible things happen – because kids following the silk route style of being dealers online is a very common trend in any major city of the world, and because the show’s framing device is Moritz being interviewed by some reporters to tell his story, we are invited to accept all the details at face value. Things even get cheeky when the show acknowledges Netflix itself, and even some of its top honchos as part of its narrative.
The show works because it passionately sticks to its high school genre without any pretense of some high order of filmmaking. It is hilarious without being silly, poignant without being melodramatic, and it is overflowing with visual panache with its unique appeal being its ability to render the presence of social media in kids’ daily lives. This means colorful pop ups and chat windows every time someone pulls out a phone, which is often in a show packed with kids. The hyperstylized cinematography may not be for everyone but it’s an accurate depiction of the dopamine rush kids feel when using both drugs and smartphones. The busy visual style isn’t just a placeholder, it grounds the show in reality while still making the whole thing an energetic and fun watch. In broad strokes, the storytelling may seem formulaic, but formula, as the show proves, when done well works very well.
Like Dark, this is yet another German casting coup, because Mundt is simply perfect for this role, going beyond the atypical high school geek qualities you expect from such characters. His presence is very likable and lends a necessary balance to the show's tone. Somewhere along the way, the show eases up on the Danny Boyle style kinetic energy and starts to find its heart, particularly with the character of Moritz’s wheelchair-bound best friend Lenny (Danilo Kamperidis) who infuses the show’s self-conscious trick-shot visual set pieces with something emotionally relatable. These are not rich or complex characters by any stretch, but if you’re like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the young people in the film who are trying to bring things of substance in what is otherwise an archetypal story.
Cast: Maximilian Mundt, Anna Lena Klenke, Danilo Kamperidis, Damian Hardung, Luna Schaller, Leonie Wesselow, Bjarne Mädel.
How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) is now streaming of Netflix Worldwide.
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