A few weeks back, Netflix brought us a brand new a comedy featuring a character you may have heard of before. YouTube sensation Miranda Sings brings her "bootiful" singing voice to a whole new platform. Haters Back Off chronicles the inception of Miranda's YouTube career and introduces us to the strange world we always knew surrounded her. This show combines the dry awkward feel of Napoleon Dynamite with the cringe-worthy family insanity of Arrested Development and it's absolutely brilliant. This show brings YouTube to TV and it works so well. My question is why?
Other YouTubers have made their way to television and film with less success. Why does Miranda Sings succeed where so many others haven't? Let's take a look at Haters in comparison, and discover what makes it work so well.
Not Just Kids
One of the first YouTube to TV transitions came from Fred. He was quite possibly the most annoying human being ever to exist, but for a short time in the fourth grade he was hilarious for some unexplained reason. Fred started out strong with a TV movie on Nickelodeon. But he lost his audience pretty quick. By the time Fred: The Show came around, we fourth graders were sixth graders, and he had lost his appeal. Fred's YouTube audience was mainly kids, and as we all know, kids are fickle. Shows like React to That and The High Fructose Adventures of the Annoying Orange faced similar challenges.
So why is Haters different? It's clear from the show's start that it's not made for kids only. In fact I'd actually say that young kids may not even understand most of the humor. This show definitely wanted to appeal to a wide range of age groups. It's humor had my teenage sister, my middle age parents, and my twenty something self all laughing together, which to me, is a challenge that most shows fail to overcome. Haters Back Off appeals to a very wide audience.
I had such high hopes for The Grace Helbig Show. Grace was and is one of the most lovable comedians on YouTube. Her videos dive into pop culture from the comfort of Grace's home. E! tried to capture that and bring it to TV and as much as I love Grace, it just didn't work. Trying to do a internet savvy, YouTube-esque, talk show in a house was just to disorienting. The show actually seemed hard for the star as well. She faced the challenge of addressing her YouTube fame and trying to build a TV audience at the same time.
The concept of Haters Back Off fixed this problem instantly. The show doesn't feel like it's trying to be a 30 minute YouTube video. The show creates a framework that actually enriches Miranda's videos. She often posts 6 minute rants about people "hating on her" or "being porn" (which is Miranda's word for inappropriate) and they often referenced her previously unseen family. Haters lets us see into Miranda's life and see the events that surrounded this and that video, which makes the videos even more fun to watch. In my mind that's absolute genius and the show's creators, Colleen Ballinger and her older brother Chris, deserve all the recognition I can give.
The Netflix Appeal
There is one common element involved in each of the previously mentioned shows, which I think could be the reason they weren't as good: Network television. Each of these shows faced huge challenges in bringing their brand to TV. On top of that, each show had to face network executives and all of their research and analytics that pile on top of creators, making the challenge almost impossible.
Watching Colleen Ballinger's behind the scenes videos of Haters really proved that Netflix is different. Netflix hired two creative people, and then they let them create what they envisioned. The show seems to be an uninhibited artistic creation from the minds of the Ballinger siblings. There was no network or censorship bureau or board of directors to please and make changes for. This show seems to be exactly what it's creators intended. You can sort of feel it in each episode. You can tell that Haters Back Off came from the exact same people who make the videos we love. It's creative, artistic, and refreshing.
I have nothing but praise for Haters Back Off. It succeeds where other shows have failed. Colleen and Chris Ballinger had the talent and the resources to bring YouTube to TV successfully. I hope we get to see more of Miranda and her shenanigans in a second season.
More than that, I hope that the networks will see this show and learn. YouTubers get famous all on their own. They don't need to be tweaked or fixed. All they need are resources, support, and respect to shine, just like the uniquely amazing Miranda Sings.