It’s amazing how much Netflix can sucker you in with a catchy title and eye-popping image card. When a big colourful winking face in the shape of an ecstasy pill jumped into my recommended stream under the title of How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) I quickly added it to my list. As it’s only six half-hour episodes I can tell you that I blasted through it for one long glorious high and am now in the satisfying comedown, left wanting more.
How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) is a German series loosely based on a true story. In the fictional town of Rinseln, High School outcast Moritz Zimmerman is not having a good day. His girlfriend, Lisa, has returned from a year abroad but wants to go on a break.
His online game item marketplace website ‘MyTems’ (created along with wheelchair-bound friend Lenny Sander) bombed the presentation. And his estranged mother never turns up for anything. When he finds out that Lisa (Anna Lena Kelenke) has gotten into party drugs, he starts a scheme to win her back.
The series charts the rise of Moritz and Lenny establishing an online illegal drug shop (‘MyDrugs’) on the dark web – undetectable to normal search engines. To do so they butt heads with the local nutso drug dealer, Buba, causing more problems than they can solve.
Each episode is structured nicely, progressing the snowballing business idea that they have hit on. But the show is also typical High School drama with Moritz pining after Lisa, causing him to make worse and worse decisions. Although at first it may seem like this is a little divorced from the interesting part of the plot, it does all sync in nicely for the last two episodes.
The whole thing is interspersed with interview segments from a ‘future’ Moritz, indicating that all won’t go well with the business venture. But this also adds a tasty layer of ‘unreliable narrator’ into the mix. Moritz’s egotistical tendencies show that he isn’t adverse to some self-aggrandising posturing.
Indeed, this is necessary as otherwise, his actions can border on character breakingly stupid. Lenny, we quickly learn, has a congenital condition that should have killed him years ago. He’s living on borrowed time so even though he despairs of Moritz’s impulsive behaviour, he has nothing to lose. Moritz doesn’t have that excuse.
How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) is shot with an up-tempo modern sensibility. Much like American Vandal and You, the use of smartphones and the internet is so ingrained in the show’s DNA that it will show on-screen instant messaging and Instagram scrolling for you to see. It’s stylish and adds to the verve of what’s going on. Especially when the likes, retweets, and deleted posts all accentuate Moritz’s state of mind. It’s fast, snappy, and fun to watch.
Interspersed among all this is plenty of mini-vignettes showing the kind of people who are ordering drugs from Moritz and Lenny’s booming business. The camera zooms in following the pill from the client’s hand into their mouth, followed by a series of crash cuts showing the highly energized nonsense that each person gets up to whilst under the influence. Oh, and the soundtrack is a techno German joy!
Netflix has reportedly ordered a second season which is great news as the first season is too short. It feels like a toe in the water for proof of concept due to the brevity. I hope that, buoyed with extra run time, How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) will revel in its second wind.
Words by Michael Record