Call it The Electric Kool-Aid Try-To-Assemble-An-End-Table Test. A new, apparently reality-based webseries called HIKEA presents a simple yet highly intriguing challenge. In each episode, participants take some form of mind-altering substance (LSD, mushrooms, etc.) and then try to put together a piece of IKEA furniture, following the instructions as closely as possible. In other words, this is a show in which “everybody must get stoned” and then try to keep track of a bunch of tiny little screws and various Allen wrenches. A challenging ordeal has thus been made exponentially more disorienting. To be fair, the use of illegal substances does seem to make the process a hell of a lot more fun, though none of the show’s would-be carpenters seem likely to replicate this experiment any time soon. The series, created by a team identified only as “Hunter & Alex,” has been in production since at least April and now actually has some finished episodes available for viewing while high or sober. This 30-second trailer gives a pretty good indication of what HIKEA is like. Expect lots of giggling here, as well as some jolly yodeling-type music.
The first episode, “Giancarlo & Nicole + LSD,” documents the struggle of a couple trying to piece together a small IKEA cabinet while totally wrecked on acid. What’s notable here is that the participants on HIKEA describe not only the furniture-assembly process but also the drug-taking experience. “You feel very connected to everything that’s around you,” Giancarlo opines. In this episode, that means he feels a deep connection to all the little fragments of wood and metal that eventually come together to form a modest shelving unit. The entire project takes about four hours, though Nicole spends part of that time studying her hair while Giancarlo gazes out the window and muses on “the neutrality of emotion.” Or something like that. Once it’s done, they go play on some monkey bars.
The second episode is entitled “Keith + Shrooms.” Here, an earnest, bearded fellow takes psychedelic mushrooms for the first time in nearly a decade before attempting to assemble his IKEA desk. The fungus does its job marvelously. “On the shrooming scale,” Keith says, “I’m somewhere near bananas.” Keith himself is not nearly so effective and gives up on the project before being coaxed back by the crew. Eventually, through sheer force of will and by skipping about 12 steps, he does put together something resembling a desk after five and a half hours. Maybe save the rest of those mushrooms for when you repaint the living room.