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July 28, 2014 | by  | in Arts TV |
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Little Horribles

Little Horribles is a “darkly comedic web series following the poor decisions of a self-indulgent lesbian.” I’m not sure why they have to qualify a synopsis with the fact that the main character is a lesbian – perhaps that’s like critical information for some viewers. Anyway, the reason I include that quote above is to just say I completely disagree; this isn’t darkly comedic humour. It’s pretty fun, with some sardonic and cynical characters.

Really, this show is just about those little, almost-important awkward moments that are just embarrassing. Stories focussing on how the mundanity of daily life is really quite funny when you watch someone else do it. And it’s good because sometimes you’re empathising with Amy (main character) and sometimes you’re empathising with the character she’s being weird towards.

It’s Amy York Rubin, doing some chuckle-worthy deadpan American humour. From what I can tell, it may be a little similar to The Office (US), once that show got funny. I only watched a little of season one of The Office (US) because frankly I found it abysmal; however, from what I’m told, they started doing some more authentic, funny American humour somewhere into the second season. And Little Horribles probably fits into that dynamic somewhere.

It’s a bit tricky to review humour which is in its nature understated. I wrote out a couple of quotes from the show when I drafted this (yes, I do in fact edit these things before publication) and on the page they come across as pretty predictable and sterile. If this was an essay, we could get into some meta-territory(!) and talk about how the script format itself is by nature a pretty hostile environ, and how it’s interesting that such a stark medium can transform into something that’s sometimes very emotionally charged. Which is one of those phrases people like to use.

Some of the good stuff: the acting is likably off-the-cuff in that tidy yet unpolished way; actors come in an array of body shapes and colours which is really refreshing to see; editing is tight, but not to the point that it draws attention to itself. What I’m trying to say is that this is a show that a lot of people should be able to relate to, because we’ve most of us been in weird social situations where we’re compelled to just act a little strange. There’s a good episode called ‘Bathroom Mirror’ which demonstrates this point more lucidly than I can.

There are also some issues of sexuality and friendship raised, but I really think this show is more concerned with those ideas as aspects or side effects of daily life. The focus is not on certain social ideology in and of itself. And in that way, I guess you could even classify this as a kind of web sitcom, though I’d have to think about that a little more. Even sitcoms like Modern Family which ostensibly break the fourth wall or whatever are still subject to the massive constraints of their genre… Not sure if this show could ever be bound by anything but its own rules. Getting a bit abstract.

More content stuff:

Episode one, ‘Sexual Activity’, features some sexual activity (one of the jokes of the ep) and a kind of breakup, wherein the breaker-up requires consoling because she finds it so difficult to break up with people. That sounds like a pathetic example of comedy. However, these things, short stories, are to me at least almost always about execution, rather than content. In addition, if we think about the web series itself as a sort of hyper-real, extreme close-up of life, the snippets we’re presented with don’t have to be completely realistic or fresh. The series is concerned more with the method of presentation.

To that end, we’re given what feels like unscripted dialogue, in which characters communicate with each other, rather than just deliver lines. This in turn contributes to the awkwardness. I like to think about rhythm and meter in particular when it comes to these moments – that might be a little over the top. If you’re an avid reader of my reviews (a man can dream), you’ll realise by now that unscripted organic acting is pretty much my jam when it comes to comedy. So possibly, I’m being really biased.

Getting back to the point: obviously we’re not expected to believe Amy is a real person who has these experiences every day. So the breakup thing above is funny. It is.

You guys: just watch this show, please. The episodes are like five minutes long. Watch it on your iPhone.

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