Spoiler warning: Minor details from Seasons 1 and 2 of “Glitch Techs” appear in this article.
Game fans and lovers of nostalgia alike rejoice! “Gitch Techs,” Netflix’s Nickelodeon produced original animated series is back with 10 new episodes full of gamer goodness. The series, a collaboration between Dan Milano (“Greg the Bunny”) and Eric Robles (“Fanboy and ChumChum”) explores the question: “What happens when video games start to glitch?”
In the show, the best friend team of Miko and High Five, battle rampant “glitches” that occur when video games go on the fritz. Much in the way that Egon Spengler and the Ghostbusters took out troublesome ghosts, the Glitch Techs bust errant lines of code manifested as video game baddies. Along with their fellow Hinobi game techs, their unenthused manager Phil, and B.I.T.T. (the cutest robot assistant in the world), our heroes use their video game knowhow to save the day.
The first 10 episodes of “Glitch Techs” dropped in February of 2020. Produced by Nickelodeon, 20 episodes were originally created for Season 1, but Netflix split them into two installments with the latest airing August 2020.
“Glitch Techs'” origin story starts with Robles’ previous work with Nickelodeon. While working on the MMO game “Monkey Quest” for the studio, the series creator found himself in need of a writing partner. Dan Milano was a natural fit and the duo found their vibe; easily listening to each other and sharing ideas.
“This began the core relationship of two people who were really willing to fully hear one another out and always build from there,” Milano shared in an interview with “Off Colour.”
Though “Monkey Quest” was short lived, Robles and Milano’s partnership was just getting started. Encouraged to develop more original ideas, Robles’ concept of “Eight Bit and High Five”—a boy and his robot—became the basis for the show we know today. The idea was to build a supernatural investigator series (think “The Ghostbusters” but with video games.)
“Nobody had seen a property like it in some time and [the] idea seemed a very fresh take,” Robles explained.
Milano, a self described “longtime obsessive fan of Sci-fi lore,” responded to Robles’ initial concept with pages and pages of notes. Robles and Milano became co-creators of the fledgling Nickelodeon series and their culture of collaboration was born.
From its very conception, it was clear to Robles and Milano that “Glitch Techs” would be a series that reflected the world as it could be. Inspired by Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek” and its themes of hope and inclusion, the pair strived to depict genuine diversity.
To accomplish this, the creators pulled from what they knew—both in pop culture and real life. They looked at their favorite childhood programs and examined how they identified with the characters and stories. They also explored what they didn’t relate to and why. Robles’ own childhood, growing up in a Latine family from East L.A. provided inspiration for High Five and his family. In fact, diversity off the screen from voice actors, writers, and collaborators helped to establish the range that is seen in the series.
The cast of characters at “Glitch Techs” include Latine, East Asian, South Asian, Muslim, and Black characters. Honestly, it would have been easy to just slap these characters in the background and claim the inclusion brownie points. However, the characters of color are actually given their own plot and development independent and unreliant on their marginalization or the show’s white characters.
“If you are open to the idea of diversity rather than seeing it as some kind of obstacle or forced mandate,” Milano responded when asked about forced diversity, “You realize that not only do you have the potential to connect with more and more of people in your audience, but you gain access to more and more amazing points of views with the potential for fresh story ideas.”
Robles echoed the sentiment, adding, “We also know a lot of creators sometimes bristle at any outside influences… That’s simply not our view. We see this medium as collaborative. We see our jobs as being to surround ourselves with people of diverse talents and perspectives and [to] provid[e] them with a platform.”
To make “Glitch Techs the best it could be, Milano and Robles used every trick they learned from their previous projects. For example, they hired talented team members, like Ian Graham. As a supervising producer, he brought his knowhow from renowned shows like “Avatar: the Last Airbender,” “The Legend of Korra,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and “Invader Zim.” They also tweaked how things are usually done in the animation industry. For example, the team broke down walls between departments and encouraged the writing, production and design teams to coordinate and collaborate on series details.
The constant back and forth of ideas and the collaboration culture started by Robles and Milano encouraged one of the most endearing aspects of “Glitch Techs.” We’re talking about the countless Easter eggs added by creators and staff! With so many passionate voices, these homages to pop culture favorites were inevitable. While some are more obvious and others are more blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, every episode is chock full of Easter eggs. Homages to “Ghostbusters, “Pokemon,” “Indian Jones,” and “Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure” are just a handful snuck into the series.
“Acknowledging everyone’s personal influences became a major part of the show. In some ways, these homages were a way to say ‘Thank you’ to anything that inspired us in the past,” Robles shared.
Agreeing with that sentiment, Milano elaborated, “The only important rule was that nothing ever be forced. The nostalgia of the show was always to be the garnish and not the meal. Stories were always to be driven by characters and emotions, and understandable despite the sci-fi context.”
The values of familiar collaboration, shared experiences, collective vision, and trust are at the core of “Glitch Techs” and are echoed by main characters Miko and Five. What makes this show a true joy is the friendship between the teens. The two fit together—like Mario and Luigi, like Sonic and Tails—because they support each other in the ways good partners should.
Showing a strong friendship between the two characters was a priority for Milano and Robles. Besides wanting to depict the gaming world as a place for everyone, they wanted to prove that friendship is as well. The goal was to prioritize the lesson that relationships are not dependent on gender. Instead of pushing a romance between their main characters, they genuinely strived to show the importance of platonic friendships between boys and girls (sorry shippers).
“Five and Miko are very different but they have a basic respect for one another that helps them navigate through conflict,” Robles clarified. “They communicate openly and they listen with open minds. Even when distracted by passions and pressures, they ultimately always have each other’s back because they are on the same team.”
In a time when we are more isolated than ever, “Glitch Techs” is a reminder that we are in this together—whatever this is. It is proof that friendship, collaboration, and respect can create something amazing.
The future of “Glitch Techs” is currently unknown. More episodes have been worked on but production has been halted until Nickelodeon and Netflix approve a new season. But the end of Season 2 leaves us with still so many mysteries to be solved. What is Hinobi up to? Why doesn’t Miko reset? What’s up with Phil and that tape? Why did Mitch’s hair suddenly change???
Yes, the series’ future is precarious, but the truth is, we need media like “Glitch Techs” right now. Shows that are funny, clever, diverse, friendship-focused, and offer us lessons without preaching serve as a reminder that things will be good again. Just like returning to the save file on our favorite video games, “Glitch Techs” is a simple pleasure and it’s one that we more than deserve.
You can support “Glitch Techs” by watching on Netflix and sharing your appreciation of the series on social Media.
Written by Samantha Chavarria
Samantha Chavarria is a Latina freelance writer who lives and works in Houston. The life-long Texan writes about identity, wellness and disability advocacy, social justice, and pop culture, contributing words to HelloGiggles, Bustle, Mitú, and Houstonia Magazine. When she isn’t writing, she’s busy being a wife, mother of three, and spending too much time on Twitter. You can follow her @ teoami.
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.