Three months ago I had the pleasure of canceling my MySpace account. For anyone who hasn’t done this, I’ll warn you that it takes several frustrating minutes of continually clicking the “Yes” button in response to the query, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Before all was said and gone, I clicked that button approximately eleven times and felt a tinge of liberation at the completion of a near-Sisyphean task.
So, when the idea of parodying the current state of commercially oversaturated social networking websites is bandied about, I support the endeavor. Theoretically, anyhow. The last thing anybody needs is a parody that rivals the lameness of its source material.
My immediate thought was this was merely a knock-off of the joke wall on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In (which was great, by the way), but it goes even further. Imagine when you’re away from your computer your MySpace or Facebook profile comes to Toy Story life. That’s the foundation of the series, the pilot’s format little more than a MySpace-esque homepage with the status update, personal info, top friends and comments of a user named Jenny.
The “top six” interact with one another and, occasionally, to highlight an action, the camera zooms into one of the photo windows while that character comes to life. Together, they play out a personal drama which essentially consists of Jenny’s childhood, bookish BFF Kali vying for the number one friend spot, currently occupied by new BF Jordan.
While the intent of My Profile Story is to parody the world of social networking, I think the Fine Brothers mimic the medium too well to find any comedy. They more or less successfully employ the major elements of parody by mimicking the style of social-networking websites and ridiculing the major flaws (the clutter of pointless apps, top-friend cattiness, oversharing of personal info, the general dumbing-down of our society), but aide from the notion that characters can interact with and climb around the profile page, there’s nothing too novel.
In addition to Jenny and Jordan, the familiar cast of characters includes the promiscuous college friend, the goth roommate, the playa, the smitten nice guy, and ubiquitous indie music all acting more or less exactly like you’d expect (drunk, hating the world, making out, infatuated, and poppy).
Granted, it’s only the first episode, but where web series like Scene Kid Love take the MySpace spoofing up to 11, My Profile Story‘s mockery stays grounded in the single digits, sticking to a plot structure that anyone could’ve conceived.
The Fine Brothers have also taken a parody of social networking and developed a social networking site based on the show itself. Now, while you participate in poking fun at social networking sites you can belong to a social networking site that makes fun of social networking sites and nominally interact with fictional characters who can become your actual friends. Borges is spinning in his grave.
I’ll concede that this is one of the most meta-labyrinthine concepts I’ve ever encountered, but I won’t concede that it’ll work. The best web series metaverses occur in familiar social networks, leveraging connections that are easily navigable and already established. Getting people to sign up for something entirely new solely to interact with characters of a web show that’s mildly entertaining at best seems like a daunting task. I’ll be surprised if Benny and Rafi can pull it off.
Clearly a ton of work must have gone into building the My Profile Story network, and it looks good in that it mirrors the site you see in the episodes, but overall the platform, the passable acting, and juvenile plot (though, to be fair, MySpace cattiness is textbook juvenalia, so that’s spot-on) remain uninspiring. I was hoping that My Profile Story would be as innovative and impressive as I expected. Perhaps future episodes won’t disappoint.
Check it out at MyProfileStory.com.