Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pilot Review: Haters Back Off

Haters Back Off (Netflix)
Premiered October 14

Within the opening moments of this show, it’s clear that it’s a certain type of series. It’s not one that’s meant to be taken seriously, and the notion that there are people who live entirely within a world like the one that Miranda Sings inhabits is hard to believe. In a way, there are those who think that they have talent when they absolutely don’t and will subsequently stop at nothing to share that perceived gift with the world. They may also be quite so intense and obnoxious as to talk down to those who can’t grasp their innate brilliance. But this show is unquestionably a parody of such elements and the whole notion of internet stardom. I’m not familiar at all with comedian Colleen Ballinger or with the YouTube videos that she has been posting as Miranda Sings since 2008. While I found myself rolling my eyes throughout most of this episode even more than I do whenever I watch “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” I did note something spectacular about the way that the opening song number, “Defying Gravity,” was filmed, displaying Miranda in all her unabashed glory. The world in which she lives is a lonely but thrilling one, and this show manages to get at that in a magnificent way. Ballinger is extraordinarily committed to the role, and I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect for the role of her uncle than Steve Little, who previously appeared on “Eastbound and Down” and “The Grinder” and has never found a more fitting part. Angela Kinsey from “The Office” is also superb as her clueless mother, and Francesca Reade rounds out the cast nicely as Emily, the smart sister that Alex from “Modern Family” wishes she could be. I see the appeal of this show and its quality, but it’s not something I need to watch.

How will it work as a series? We’ve already seen a few dramatic meltdowns from Miranda, but also an ability for her to recognize, in whatever minimal way, that not everyone wants what she’s selling, as evidenced by her sweet deal with her sister not to acknowledge her in public. This show should be entertaining, awkward, horrifying, miserable, and hilarious all at the same time.
How long will it last? It seems like there was such a build-up for the series that the character of Miranda Sings should attract enough of an audience, even if the show hasn’t received such warm reviews from critics. I think it’s an interesting experiment, and something tells me that Netflix is going to want to give it another shot even if it didn’t launch so strongly.

Pilot grade: B-

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