Oct 26, 2016

[TV] Haters Back Off: Season 1

I've been petty open to exploring the various original creative ventures that Netflix has been churning out in order to make their content library that much more attractive to customers. Trying to get other content creators to make a deal with you is one thing, but creating your own content is that much easier and still pretty lucrative..Of course this assumes that said content actually work.

Haters Back Off is the product of efforts of making the most of a YouTube personality and hoping that it'll work. The math seems  to make sense since the working assumption is that the concept of the show has already tested as successful with YouTube fans and so bringing it to television format would be the safe bet.

But it seems the jury's out on this shows as there's a wide range opinions about it and whether or not it's really a test case for successfully translating a YouTube personality into a small screen heroine. And frankly, I'm not exactly on the side of the supporters of this project. Maybe it's just not my flavor of weirdness.

Synopsis: Haters Back Off is a Netflix original comedy series created  by Colleen Ballinger and Chris Ballinger together with showrunners Gigi McCreery and Perry Rein. The is based around YouTube character Miranda Sings also created by the Ballingers. People like to talk about the show as the "first scripted series written by a YouTube personality."

The show centers around Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger) a home-schooled girl who seems determined to become famous. Her uncle Jim (Steve Little) has been performing the role of her manager and has put together a 5-step plan for becoming famous that starts with going viral on YouTube and ending with stage magic. However Miranda is terribly talentless and narcissistic and her tone-deaf renditions of popular shows probably aren't going to get her anywhere. Her mother Bethany (Angela Kinsey) is at a loss on how to handle her and instead tries to cater to her every whim. The only well-adjusted person in the family is Emily (Francesca Reale), her generally normal if somewhat bitchy sister.

What I Liked: As you'd expect from a show of this nature, it has its funny moments. Ballenger has clearly spent a lot of time developing the Miranda Sings character and it shows. She's amazingly committed to the role and despite the zaniness of it all things continue on through with her fully in character. The rest of the group remains equally committed and they all demonstrate great performance moments.

But at the same time you can't help but wonder if they're too good in terms of their performances. Does the fact that you feel disgust or even hate when it comes to some of the characters mean that they were that believable?

What Could Have Been Better: The show is hard to get into if you've never seen Miranda Sings before or you're not a fan of her YouTube work. Miranda is not a likeable character and her uncle isn't any better. You want to feel a little bad about the mother but then she's just as one-dimensional as everyone else. Thus it all feels more like how an SNL sketch can be funny in small doses but may not work in a longer format. And it's hard to get to a point in the series when Miranda becomes somehow likeable enough to want to support her.

As a YouTube series, it's funny in small moments and we all get a good laugh since she's so terrible. As a TV show, you still hope for a reason to want to see the protagonists succeed somehow but the show doesn't deliver on this. And even if it seems like her family was written in this manner in order to somehow explain why Miranda is the way she is, it doesn't quite make sense in the long run. It's hard to accept that a family of this nature and this level of dysfunction can still survive for as long as they do without self-destructing for any number of reasons.

TL;DR: Miranda Sings is not the poster child for a successful translation of a YouTube character into a TV series. A lot of folks really love it and a lot of those happen to be existing fans of Miranda Sings while folks like me are just too weirded out. And thus the first season of the show can only get 2 awkward moments between Miranda and her best friend Patrick (Erik Stocklin) out of a possible 5.

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