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The Adventure Zone Primer: Catch the Best Live-Action, Role-Playing Podcast Out There

One thing you should know about me is that I really, really like the McElroy Brothers and their line of various media products. I listen to their podcasts, I watched their six-episode SeeSo TV show, and I paid nineteen dollars American to watch Trolls World Tour because they had very brief appearances as different music genres (a process that was documented in their podcast The McElroy Brothers Will Be in Trolls World Tour which they began recording approximately eighteen months before actually securing that deal). I believe at this point oldest brother Justin would also like me to make sure you’re aware that in addition to his media empire, he was a successful line cook at the Huntington, WV Olive Garden. I am, as the kids say, a big stan(?).

Which is why I was briefly concerned when Twitter told me that there was a controversy surrounding the third season of their live-action, role-playing podcast The Adventure Zone. Despite loving the ever-loving crap out of seasons one and two, I hadn’t been listening to The Adventure Zone: Graduation for a couple of reasons:

1. The first is that middlest brother Travis had taken over as DM, and he’d introduced a number of non-playing-characters who talked at each other a lot. I have trouble keeping characters straight until they do something important. (Which is also why Game of Thrones was a nightmare for me. “You’ve got three similarly-looking, teenaged sons, Ned? And they’re different, but only in ways that people hint at because it’s upsetting somehow? Fuck you.”)

2. The second reason is mostly just that I’d gotten used to sweet-baby-brother Griffin’s storytelling style and couldn’t adjust. They’d replaced Aunt Viv, and no amount of Alfonso Ribeiro’s great physical comedy was going to get me to sit right there.  So I wasn’t familiar enough with the material of the third season to understand why there’d be a controversy and this upset me greatly.

Turns out the controversy was:

“A lot of fans of the first two seasons didn’t love the third season and talked about that online.”

That’s it. I mean, really.

There were some valid criticisms of Travis’s tendency to have NPCs play out entire scenes, gripes about pacing, and some very valid discussion of representation and the tropes that non-white-cis-het characters are often relegated to. In part because of the McElroys’ willingness to listen to criticism and engage with it, the very fact that there was criticism of the third season became a “sort of” story. And then the follow-up to that story was some people saying:

“Criticism of the podcast is valid, but we should make sure that it’s constructive and respectful, and we shouldn’t take any personal shots at the storyteller because that isn’t warranted.”

With others saying:

“Yeah, of course, we’re not garbage humans.”

And that was it. It’s the nerdiest and most wholesome controversy I’ve seen since my Grandma said that the only good cookies are ones with raisins in them, and I made that up because my Grandma’s actually a mean-spirited viper.

My overall point is: the McElroys are good, good boys. (Quick side note: the McElroys are good, good boys, but they’re definitely not perfect. So if you did want to dip into the wide back catalog of their flagship show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, please be warned that some goofs from the early shows have not held up. They also wish they hadn’t made those furry jokes in 2012, and they’re deeply embarrassed.) But also, while I’ve got you here, can I interest you in a live-action, role-playing podcast that three brothers play with their dad? Because the season four trailer just dropped, and I’m very excited.

Are you into that? Is that, like, good? For you?

Maybe you’re not on board yet because you’re not sure of the whole vibe. You don’t know if you want to get into a new show if the quality is yet to be determined. That’s cool. The first season, Balance, is already done and is amazing. Over the course of sixty-nine (nice) episodes, the Brothers plus Dad Clint battle mysterious forces for the safety of the world while also learning valuable lessons. Or at least lessons on valuables.

And if you want your fantasy a little more reality-based? Season two, Amnesty, has all of the magic you need while being set on Earth in the Mongohela- the Monagohela- the Monoghohela- in West Virginia.

Or, maybe you’re just not sure what kind of commitment you can make to any podcast right now, and just want something quick and over easily? They’ve got stand-alone, live shows, y’all. Yes, they somehow managed to get deeply troubled people to give them money to watch them play D&D in crowded theaters, and yes, the person writing this article is one of them.

(I highly recommend the “Holiday Brawl in Chicago” or “Dave’s Dehumidifier Depot Halloween Special.”)

So, anyway, my overall point again? McElroys are still good, good boys; I will be taking Thursday off for some sort of nerdy celebration; and whenever possible, always loot the gerblin corpses.

The Adventure Zone podcast

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More on Plex:

My Brother, My Brother, and Me

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Written By

Emily has very strong opinions on very unimportant things and will fight you on those things for no reason. She's been known to try to make friends by quoting Brockmire and John Oliver at you. She's from Chicago and will remind you of that fact early and often. Do not feed the Emilys.

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