Cypher Avenue Rating: 2 of 5      
As I hit play on the first episode of Steel River, I hear Chris Brown singing, “I don’t wanna go there…” Whoa, that convicted felon is also a mind reader, he said exactly what I was thinking about regarding watching this series, I don’t wanna go there. But I must for Cypher Avenue. I can’t imagine any of the “actors” who worked on this show watching an episode and saying, “yo, this was SO worth my time. DeltaAirlines.com. One ticket to Hollywood please, I’m on my way!”
Wait wait wait, I do wanna give credit to Steel River for a couple things right off the bat. They solved the Street Behavior characters-with-no-name problem immediately by showing us the faces and names of each character in the opening credits. believe it or not, names matter. They do. Even as adults, its the first thing we ask when we meet new people. Secondly, what a great looking cast! Even if none of them are your “type” you have to admit that some thought went into marketable casting, unlike the previous two web series I’ve reviewed so far. If we have to look at these people struggle with acting for 20 minutes, at least let them be pretty.
After introducing all of their models (I refuse to call them actors), the show finally begins with characters Shelton and Terry in a dressing room after what’s supposed to be a concert performance. A big one too since we can still hear the crowd screaming, either that or this web series was taped before a live studio audience. Shelton gets all homophobic when Terry receives flowers from some guy named Dexter (who was one of the models in the opening credits so at least we know what he looks like already, take note Street Behavior). Oh, forgot to mention that Terry is a “mainstream R&B singer.” His words, not mine. Do they really call themselves that? Is that how we’re doing it in 2013? Shelton screams that Terry needs to stop boning Dexter for the sake of this “mainstream R&B group” that apparently Shelton’s ENTIRE family is a member of in some way…Shelton storms off, Terry angrily contemplates what to do.

First off, props to Steel River for quickly establishing characters and conflict. This is drama writing 101. We know whats at stake in just over a minute. Secondly, I wanna confront this idiot Dexter who sends PINK FLOWERS and a card that says “With all my love” to a closeted (supposedly) successful singer IMMEDIATELY after he gets off stage. Save that shit for when he gets home, dummy. There are rules to this shit. Please tell me that the next scene is Terry saying all that. Nope. Its a commercial. Wait, what? We’re doing that now? In a Web Series? I already can barely hear your audio and now you’re making me watch a commercial? Oh wait, two commercials?! Patience, tested. Woo-sah.


We’re back. We open with Dexter in his bed masturbating to porn. Sigh. I wish I could say that this will be the last time we see a masturbation scene in this web series list but its not (Yes, I’m talking to you Freefall). Terry and Dexter argue and suddenly I long for the bad audio in the previous scene. Yes, they acting is that bad. And its hard to understand what the guy playing Terry is saying half the time (some kind of model speech impediment). Dexter seems to feel the same way because after Terry leaves, he just goes back to looking at porn.
Next episode starts with new characters and a new situation. Okay, hold up. True, I know everyone’s name but now we’re getting back into Street Behavior territory. Steel River, don’t you know that Street Behavior has the confusing-random-character-storyline market on lock down? You didn’t know? Well now you do, lesson learned.
Apparently platonic straight friends Will and Addison just kissed. Addison then confesses his love for Will. Will blows a gasket. They kiss again. Will blows a fan belt. Then Will storms off. Okay two things. The random tattoos ALL OVER YOUR BODY, is that a thing now? Kill me now if it is. No seriously. If that’s the new “sexy” I don’t belong in this new world. Secondly, the acting. Its almost comically bad.

The acting gets worse as we cut back to Terry’s storyline where he’s confronted by the “mainstream R&B group’s” manager with photos of him and Dexter lip-locking. The manager demands that he leave the group, claiming that his sexuality would destroy the group’s brand to fans. Then Steel River ironically makes us listen to TWO MINUTES of a Frank Ocean song. Do the filmmakers know that Frank Ocean is a REAL LIFE gay singer who came Out to his fans and became MORE popular for it? In this post Frank-Ocean society we’re still doing storylines like this where the opposite happens? I mean, even Kaldrick King came Out of the closet! The “D.L. musician” thing is played now, Steel River. Let’s shift gears.

The next episode starts with even MORE Terry scenes. Props to Steel River for giving their weakest actor the most scenes. That took balls. Anyway, Its Terry and Dexter doing what all normal hairless, pretty, light skinned, slim, gay men do: lazily smoke weed in bed while discussing their relationship. Terry is still stressed about being a gay “mainstream R&B singer.” This storyline will be stretched out forever, trust us. Its all they got. Okay, now we meet some more unrelated characters. Kadoe and Rontae. Yes these are real names, they exist somewhere in nature, they are not just made up, they really exist, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, the Great Oz has spoken.

More stuff happens, more characters show up and we get a couple raunchy and disgusting-to-look-at sex scenes with women. Oddly enough, its NOT the women that makes them disgusting, its the yucky men. More characters talk about relationships…Blah Blah Blah. Then I saw this:
Do men past 20 years old still pile in a bed together like this when there are perfectly suitable and working couches in the next room? Yes this is nitpicking but come on. Oddly enough, the three guys are discussing how they are done with the “gay shit.” How about we start by getting your grown asses out of the bed and sit in a chair? Wait, is that a hotel room? Are they at Sizzle Miami? Who cares.
Damn son, I just had a flashback to that sex scene, Jesus take me now! This can’t be life!
As bad as it may be, Steel River is not the worst web series on the Internet. Its just not really that good. Real actors, better audio and more cohesive characters and storylines could make this show actually interesting to a mainstream audience.