She’s loud. She’s hilarious. She wears red lipstick so thick it makes her look like a clown. She talks funny, and she claims to know how to sing. Her name is Miranda Sings.
Colleen Ballinger, who plays Miranda, a character that is supposed to portray a parody of a bad YouTuber, started her channel on YouTube back in 2008, where she would dress up as the comedic personality and film herself doing pointless things. They included offkey covers and nonsensical rants, yet her YouTube channel has still rapidly grown. She currently has over seven million subscribers.
Now, Ballinger takes on the television industry with “Haters Back Off,” (a reference to what Miranda says when someone sends her rude comments) an eight-episode Netflix Original Series. With her overconfidence, boldness, and Uncle Jim’s “five-phase plan for achieving fame,” Miranda embarks on a not-so-graceful journey to stardom.
“Haters Back Off” is the jocular story of how Miranda Sings becomes famous. It follows her and her family, which has to deal with Miranda’s obnoxiousness and obliviousness. The family includes the overexcited uncle (Steve Little), who works at a fish store and is obsessed with helping Miranda become famous, the sad mom (Angela Kinsey), who tries too hard to please her daughter and has an abundance of awkward moments, and the realistic and cynical sister, Emily (Francesca Reale), who seems to be the only one in the family in the right state of mind. Mix in Miranda’s next door neighbor, Patrick (Erik Stocklin), who has a not so subtle crush on her, and you have the chaotic world of Miranda Sings.
The first episode opens with Miranda filming her first video, a cover of “Defying Gravity,” which she immediately uploads to YouTube, hoping to achieve instant internet fame. She mis-titles it “My Fist Video,” and that is just one example of the series’ immense range of bad jokes and obvious innuendos.
On YouTube, one-liners worked for Miranda. They were short and got to the point, like most of her videos. However, for a television show, those one-liners just don’t have the same effect.
For example, in the first episode, Miranda panics because she receives her first hate comment and interprets it as a death threat. At that moment, her mother brings in weiner snacks, to which Miranda replies in agony, “Oh my god, I’m so stressed! I’m stress-eating weiners!” I didn’t laugh. I cringed.
YouTube is just different from television. You could watch Miranda’s videos for a few minutes and that would be enough comedy for the day.
But can you sit down and watch a delusional character talk with a nasally voice for half an hour? There’s only so many offkey moments, amateurish jokes, awkward silences, and cringey moments you can take before wanting to bang your head against a wall.
Also, “Haters Back Off” lacks an intriguing plot. Most of the episodes have empty jokes without destination or meaning, followed by an uncomfortable silence. And when there is some sort of substance––like when Emily tells Miranda that she has no talent and is an embarrassment, but proceeds to comfort her after––it’s cliché and even more uncomfortable to watch than the jokes.
Perhaps the only memorable part of this series is how Ballinger personifies Miranda. When Ballinger first introduced this series, she had a big challenge in front of her. How was she supposed to make this joke of a character turn into something someone can watch for 30 minutes?
To overcome this, she commits to Miranda, and it shows. She puts all her efforts in embodying Miranda’s fiery personality in a way that makes it look like Miranda is a real person instead of a character.
Her mouth droops, her eyebrows always wiggle around, and she’s always slouching. Her clothes are always bright and a little too big for her body. Even the way she walks embodies Miranda’s persona.
“Haters Back Off” is a daring leap for Ballinger, but unfortunately, it falls short. Miranda’s five-minute videos on YouTube are funny, witty, and entertaining, but 30 minutes of it turns out to be a drag.
The fact that Ballinger has released her own television series may look encouraging to hopeful YouTubers. But if they are planning shows anything like “Haters Back Off,” perhaps they are better off staying in their rooms.