Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Parody The Parody
Love it or hate it, Venice: The Series has made its mark on the world of made-for-web entertainment. (For the record, I really hate it.) It's been noticed. Lots of people bought the panties, paid their $10 for the sub, bought the hat, the t-shirt, the drink bottle, the mug. Some will even be nutty enough to shell out $150 for the up-coming Venice meet. It may be a small cult, but it's a cult. As with any cult, parody was inevitable. It might be that there are several people parodying the adventures of Crystal and Kimmy and Team V, but the only one I know about is the shrouded-in-mystery Webseries the Webseries.
Episode one of WtW introduces us to Jules - an unemployed television actresss who has just come off a wildly popular same-sex story line on a recently-cancelled cop drama, Gotham Vice. Yeah, that's right..Gotham Vice. I'll tell you right now: this thing is chock full references that make it clear who the primary audience is meant to be. Jules, egged on by her somewhat...um...anxious best friend, Pam, gets involved in the world of internet-based fandom and live chat boards, and eventually gets talked into producing and starring in her own lesbian-themed web series. Sound familiar? It should.
The story continues in episodes 2 and 3, with additional characters being introduced, various minor conflicts arising, a lot of booze, and plenty of laughs. Also available for your viewing pleasure are bonus clips of Gotham Vice, and a 'fan-made' music video using Gotham Vice footage. The bonus clips are so much like stuff we've really scene before, you may have to remind yourself that this is all a joke, and that there is no Gotham vice.
Viewer reaction to WtW has been mixed. Some people like it. Some people hate it. I've seen people remark that it's not a parody (sorry, but it is.) I've seen people comment that it's the greatest thing, ever (sorry, it isn't.) But it is pretty damned funny. The writer (who, BTW, no one seems able to track down) has nailed the funniest parts of fandom...not just Venice fandom, but ANY fandom: the desperate need some fans have to feel as if they're close to the object of their adoration, the crappy music videos and collages (sorry- some of that fan art is pretty bad), the memorizing of particular lines or scenes or gestures from a favorite show or movie, the re-enacting of scenes. It's all there. All of the obsessive stuff that we've seen people get lost in if not about Venice, then about Otalia, or Buffy or Xena or Deep Space 9. Also there: liberal guzzling of alcohol, sexual innuendo, and a whole mess of inside jokes.
The actress in the lead role of Jules, Butch Jerenic, is pretty great. Her comic timing is perfect, and she does a really great job of looking drunk. She brings a certain sweetness to a role that another actress could have easily made unlikable. Jo Jo Swanson starts out a little awkwardly in the role of Pam, but picks it up and, by episode 3, she's made Pam her own.
I wondered if anyone else would find humor in all of this, so I had two friends watch all three episodes - both are women who have never watched a web series, know nothing about soap operas, and have no clue who or what Otalia is. Both women remarked that they found Pam to be "creepy" but hilarious. They both also noted that every lesbian knows another lesbian like Pam. Both of them laughed out loud at the Gotham Vice scenes, comparing the so-bad-it's-good dialogue to various tv shows. Both women were puzzled by Jules' effeminate husband, but found his campiness funny. One of them, an IT professional, especially enjoyed the ineptness of the main characters when it comes to all things technical. What appeals to me, as someone who has watched a few web series, and gets all the inside jokes, is the way the people behind WtW seem to have covered all their bases: the Zazzle store offers "Team Trina" gear that's beyond ridiculous (sneakers???) and the Facebook group is just plain dopey. Can a $150-a-head Webseries the Webseries meet-and-greet be far off?
Well done. Keep it coming.