“Hey, where my baes at? Wicky wicky!”
Slather on some extra lipstick and hike up your pants, 3.5 readers.
BQB here with a review of Miranda Sings’ TV debut with Haters Back Off, streamable now on Netflix.
As a pop culture nerd, I’ve been aware of Miranda Sings’ YouTube channel for awhile. I can’t quite put my finger on when I first learned of her. Rather, it seems like the sun or water, she’s just always been there.
The character is so larger than life that you might be surprised there’s a real person under those pants.
Colleen Ballinger (honestly, I never knew the name of the person behind Miranda until she got her own Netflix show) has explained the genesis of her alter ego and I’ll try to do it justice (with some of my own assumptions that may or may not be accurate.)
Years ago, Colleen was an aspiring singer and as such, she was surrounded by all kinds of egotistical “look at me girls” who performed song covers in their bed rooms in front of video cameras, posted the videos on YouTube and then immediately thought doing so would launch a music career.
The odds of getting discovered like that aren’t great, so rather join them, she invented Miranda and made fun of them.
It was 2008, the early days of YouTube and Colleen aka Miranda became a comic genius. She not only lampooned the egotistical “I want to be a success overnight by posting dumb videos” phenomenon that so many millennials have become swept up in, but she also got the chance to make fun of a variety of music stars in the process.
Great plan if you ask me, because if you head on over to YouTube and do a search for your favorite modern pop hit, chances are, if you scroll down far enough, you’ll see Miranda with her poorly applied lipstick and Steve Urkel-esque pants singing a cover of the song terribly yet congratulating herself on a job well done in her nasal voice anyway.
To Colleen’s credit, she’s embraced Miranda to the hilt low these many years. She’s gone on tour and appeared on TV shows as Miranda and only as Miranda i.e. similar to the way Sascha Baron Cohen would go on a TV show as Borat and everyone would treat him as Borat.
Like Lady Gaga, Colleen has kept her poker face. Go to Miranda Sings’ Twitter and you’ll find a bevy of misspelled yet egotistical tweets as Miranda compliments herself on her latest activities whilst being clueless as to her skills, talent, or rather, lack thereof.
And Miranda has even developed all sorts of catch phrases. With “Haters Back Off” she has essentially immunized herself from YouTube criticism. YouTube commenters are notorious for savagely ripping into YouTubers, often being a little too harsh on people who are just trying to show the world their interest in song, dance, entertainment or what have you.
But since Miranda is already parodying the “Oh my God someone wrote a bad comment about me on the Internet and it has ruined my life” lifestyle, it is hard to bring her down with a negative comment. (Well, its hard to bring Colleen down. Miranda, for humorous purposes as we see in the first episode of her show, gets emotionally ruined by the slightest online criticism.)
Her other catchphrase is, “No porn.” Miranda fancies herself classy. If you dress in a skimpy outfit, she’ll likely accuse you of “doing porn.”
Social Media has truly exploded over the last decade and not always for the better. This election, with friends and neighbors squabbling over their preferred candidate, is proof of that.
But the best thing about social media is it has allowed people with talent to shine and be discovered in a way that is usually reserved for people with connections, contacts, agents, and/or just a tremendous amount of luck.
Therefore, I tip my hat to this YouTuber as she took an idea, produced it out of her bedroom, nurtured, grew it, kept it going and eight years later, has her own TV show.
Now with many pop culture sensations, a TV show or movie based on said sensation usually ends up being crap. Hollywood suits get together, attempt to ride a popular name for as long as they can, but then don’t give a lot of thought to the plot.
That’s not the case here.
In this show, we see Miranda’s life, and not just the parts from YouTube.
A homeschooled nerd devoid of style, manners, common sense, and/or talent yet overflowing with (you might say undeserved) self-confidence, the show begins with Miranda recording a poorly performed song and loading it to YouTube.
Miranda’s Uncle Jim is an assistant fish store manager and is as clueless and egotistical as Miranda is, convinced that he’s going to manage his niece’s entertainment career all the way to the top.
FYI Jim is played by Steve Little who you might remember as Kenny Powers’ clueless weirdo friend from HBO’s Eastbound and Down. Steve did such a good job with that role he is apparently going to be playing clueless weirdos forever now.
Eh, there are worse jobs, right?
Angela Kinsey (Angela the accountant from The Office who was always judging Pam when she wasn’t busy being Dwight’s creepy love interest) plays Miranda’s mother Bethany.
Bethany is convinced she has undiagnosed fibromyalgia (but more likely has hypochondria) and has a dress and a casual wrist brace, neither of which are necessary.
She nurtures Miranda to a fault and encourages Miranda’s unlikely music career and caters to her every egotistical whim (Miranda bosses her mother around similar to how Zach Galifinakis bosses his mother around in The Hangover.)
Rounding out the family is Emily (Francesca Reale) who is Miranda’s sister and the only normal, level-headed member of the family.
As I saw Emily reading a book entitled, Living with Crazy, I caught the point of the show.
Yes, a bunch of people got together and figured out a way to make a buck off the Miranda Sings character, but this show is much more than that.
This show puts “the other half” on full display, in all their glory.
So many shows are filled with beautiful people with beautiful people problems. “Oh no, which of my many suitors will I pick? Everyone loves me, whatever will I do?”
Or worse, there are so many sitcoms with perfect parents and perfect children.
In the real world, real families have real problems. Sometimes families aren’t even traditional, as in the case of a hypochondriac mother and a creepy uncle raising an egotistical daughter who is convinced she should be a superstar and another daughter who just yearns to live a normal life.
There’s something for everyone to relate to in this show. Maybe YOU are the one in your family with a crazy problem. Or maybe you are like Emily and you just want to be normal but you’re forced to deal with your family’s craziness.
And ultimately, the show is a lampooning of the quest for Internet fame.
Yes, people, you do live in an age where it is possible to bypass agents, auditions, and entertainment industry decision makers and gain notoriety on your own.
BUT – just because the technology is there doesn’t automatically mean you have the talent to make it happen.
Because you can do it doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it…and you just might make an ass out of yourself along the way.
Ahh, but here’s the rub. “Get some confidence” is the advice we’re always told when we pursue our dreams.
What happens if your confidence outweighs your talent?
Such is Miranda’s dilemma.
I hand it to Colleen/Miranda. Had she opted to be just another girl singing covers in her bedroom and posting the videos to YouTube, the odds are she wouldn’t have gone anywhere, but by creating a character to poke fun at these girls, she created an empire with little more than a pair of hitched up Urkel pants, some caked on lipstick, and a nasal nerd voice.
I hope this TV success doesn’t mean that Miranda is going to leave us anytime soon.
However, after seeing Colleen as herself on Jimmy Fallon, I can tell that it won’t be long before Hollywood starts knocking on her door with parts that are reserved for starlets and not nerds.
She deserves it but as her star rises, I just hope she doesn’t throw those hiked up pants away. She needs to keep them in the back of her closet to remember that so many of her fans are, in fact, more like Miranda than they are like a Hollywood star.
I’m in awe of people who got in on the ground floor of the social media craze.
My initial reaction then was, “Eh, this is interesting but why the shit do I want to be on a website where everyone talks about what they had for lunch and posts a photo of their lunch?”
But Colleen found her niche, made a bold decision to be funny and not take herself seriously by inventing a hilarious character and eight years later, people are taking her seriously now.
Impressive. Where my baes at?