Bitcoin and Friends may not be the crypto show we want, but it may be the crypto show we deserve. At first glance it looks like a family-friendly educational program but don’t watch it with the kids. While there are moments of inspirational or educational dialogue, this show is not for the young. Filled with strong language, drug references, graphic nudity and violence, Bitcoin and Friends is anything but what you’d expect.
Whether that’s what you like in a show or not, it’s worth taking a look at. Even if you don’t watch the first episode, take a glance at their business model.
A Breakdown of the First Episode
Bitcoin and Friends takes place in New Jersey USA, sometime during the throes of the 2008 financial crisis. It follows
Bitcoin — personified as an orange disk with a face, hands, and feet. Bitcoin wakes up on a table as a shadowy figure, introducing himself as his father, gives a teary goodbye. The father is, of course, Satoshi Nakamoto.
Bitcoin starts wandering the streets of New Jersey, vomiting smaller versions of himself called
Bitcoin is eventually saved by the foul-mouthed ice cream man, Jones. Jones lost everything in the “Great Recession” and now sells drugs out of an ice cream truck.
He introduces Bitcoin to Harold and Mitalik, computer nerds who hang out in Harold’s mom’s basement. The pair discovers the nature of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, which they attempt to explain to Bitcoin and Jones.
Promises would no longer need to be held by people in places of power, Mitalik explains.
The unlikely friends start looking for Nakamoto. They first find a character coincidentally named Nakamoto, but then later realise they should just follow the coins.
So, they eventually find Pal Fifty, a disabled computer scientist and early Bitcoin adopter. The episode ends with Pal Fifty explaining the potential of Bitcoin. Jones asks if this means that he could one day trade in the Itty Bitties for millions of dollars in cash. In an homage to The Matrix, Pal Fifty responds
I’m telling you that when we’re ready, you won’t have to.
“Guest Appearances” and Historical Humour
If you’re deep into Bitcoin, the show has a few extra layers. Take the Itty Bitties, for example. These represent the actual bitcoin currency. Every time Bitcoin vomits them, his glove gives a notification that a block has been found.
While some of the main characters are fictional, like Jones (probably), others represent historical figures. Mitalik Butane is named after Vitalik Buterin. The real life Buterin was an early adopter of Bitcoin and a co-founder of Ethereum as well as Bitcoin Magazine.
As far as Pal Fifty goes, that’s the name the website gives him, but in the episode the characters clearly call him Hal Finney. Finney is another real-life computer programmer and was the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction.
The character Harold, is probably a compilation of early adopters. The website describes him as a
the guy who bought the Bitcoin Pizza,
the one who put all his coins in Mt. Gox and
the one that invested in Bitconnect.
Most events from the show are also based on historical events. For example, the characters encountering a person coincidentally named Satoshi Nakamoto. The pen-name of Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, actually belongs to a real person. The real life Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto denies creating Bitcoin.
The Show’s Funding Model
As mentioned above, you don’t need to like the show to find the concept interesting. While Bitcoin and Friends is pretty low-brow, the creators partnered with CoinCube. CoinCube is a sort of cryptocurrency investment company. The show is made by Uncle Chris Productions. The executive producer is Robert William Allen, a founder of CoinCube.
The interesting thing about Bitcoin and Friends is that it is funded by cryptocurrency donations. They currently accept donations in a number of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Monero, and Ripple.
A season of the show has been planned but episodes are only released when a certain amount has been donated. They’re currently waiting on a donation of five BTC (st this point around AU$36,000) before they release episode two.
There are even special rewards for donors, beginning at US$15. Bitcoin and Friends is also hiring for pretty much any position.
According to a budget breakdown provided on the website, the bulk of funding goes to animation. Sound design and music licensing are also big expenses. Voice talent takes up a relatively small portion, partially because the same people are voicing several characters.
Episode descriptions are available on the site as well. However, descriptions for episodes beyond episode one are “locked.” For those interested in the plot, teasers include the names of future episodes and characters not in the first episode. Particularly taunting is the suggestion of an Ethereum character.
Where to Watch?
The first episode of Bitcoin and Friends launched on 28 March. At the time of writing, it has over 90,000 views. The link above is to the show’s website. There you can find casting information, episode plans, information on donating, and even a budget breakdown. To watch the actual episode, you need to go to YouTube, or you can watch it below. The channel doesn’t only post episodes. It also has a vlog, featuring the protagonist.
If Bitcoin and Friends sounds like something you would watch, go ahead and watch it, it’s free. But why not donate?
Even if Bitcoin and Friends doesn’t sound like it’s for you, it’s a neat idea. After all, it makes perfect sense for a show about Bitcoin to be crowd-funded with crypto.
Tamara is a marketing and PR professional, enthusiastic about crypto, blockchain and technology in general. She’s the editor at Bitcoin Australia.