The first time I watched The Bindlestiffs, I was at a loss for words. I wanted to know – is it a true story? Do these people exist? Or is it a mockumentary, with great set design and a top notch makeup crew? The answer? Find out after the break.
If you guessed ‘mockumentary,’ you would be… wrong. The Bindlestiffs are, in fact, one of America’s last family circuses. In the first episode Stephanie Monseu, co-founder of the troupe with her husband Keith Nelson, matter-of-factly explains, “There’s something really amazing about the fact that we’ve been able to do this for over 13 years without killing each other.”
What made the show, a 10 episode documentary series, appealing to me was the fact that as ridiculous as the story seems, it’s completely true. In a medium where we are assaulted from all sides with hoaxes and lies (Save Toby and lonelygirl15, anyone?), watching a web documentary is refreshing, and a great sign for the future of online media. The Bindlestiffs are fun to watch; even though they’re weird, and you wonder how they ever found each other, they love life and their jobs, no matter how difficult it is to keep going year after year. My only complaint about the show is that the episodes have averaged 10 minutes long each so far. I think the episodes could be tightened up and brought down to a more manageable 5 or 6 minutes, which could help the series pick up the YouTube crowd. But in the same way The Bindlestiffs go about their lives in the way they want to, this documentary series tells their story in its own way, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.