STORY WRITTEN BY ROB LOWMAN
Southern California News Group
The new Netflix comedy “Haters Back Off!” skirts the line of between being obnoxious and quirkily interesting.
The series is based on the YouTube.com sensation created by Colleen Ballinger, in which she plays a talentless teen named Miranda. We meet Miranda brutally butchering “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.” Dutifully videotaping it is her doting — and obviously tone-deaf — Uncle Jim (Steve Little).
The plan is to put it on the internet to make Miranda a star.
“The most famous people in the world started off on the internet: Justin Bieber, Susan Boyle, that cat that fell off the table when it got scared,” Ballinger reasons.
Yes, we get the self-reference in this.
We soon meet Miranda’s mother, Bethany (“The Office’s” Angela Kinsey), who is home schooling the want-to-be star, but is as out of touch as her daughter. Somehow she holds a job as a grocery store cashier. Jim works at a tropical fish store, though you can’t imagine anyone trusting either to handle monetary transactions.
Miranda’s moony friend Patrick (Erik Stocklin) is so smitten he doesn’t notice she doesn’t have any talent, either. Thrown into this craziness is Miranda’s sister, April (Rachelle Gillis), who seems normal and even goes to high school.
It’s hard to see why she’s even there. Is she a plot device to give Miranda a sense of humanity? She clearly sees the family is loony.
Of course, after the video is uploaded, people start hating it — once they finally discover it. Living in her own self-deluded isolation has given Miranda no sense of proportion. So she sees the nasty remarks as threatening. While cyber-bullying is real, this doesn’t really have anything to say about it.
“Haters Back Off!” runs on a fairly thin concept and in a claustrophobic world. The series seems to want to exist somewhere between a Pee-wee Herman world, where Miranda exists within her own reality, and “Waiting for Guffman” or other parodies of self-important clueless people. It doesn’t succeed as either, nor on its own terms.
Maybe as a short YouTube video, Miranda’s ineptness can draw laughs, but she sloughed her way through a lot of “Defying Gravity.” We only needed 20 seconds at most to get it — after that, ugh.
But if you think I don’t get it, all I can say is, “Haters Back Off!”