The cleverly named Afterellen.com boasts “News, reviews & commentary on lesbian and bisexual women in entertainment and the media,” but damned if I can find the connection between that statement of purpose and FEED, Mel Robertson’s in-progress web series about a disillusioned former reality television producer’s righteous descent into the underground world of “digital vigilantism” that’s hosted on the site.
True, FEED’s heroine, Maura (Amanda Deibert), is bisexual, and in one episode (titled, ahem, “Going Down”) begins a steamy (though soon to turn sour) hotel room romance with “The True World Vegas” reality star Charlie (Sarah Maine), but other than that FEED isn’t too concerned with lesbian relationships and lifestyles.
The web series is more interested in the subversive, though potentially dangerous avenues new media can explore in bringing to light the disturbing truth mainstream media doesn’t want us to see.
The plot goes something like this: Maura is introduced masked, talking directly to a camera, and cryptically speaking of capturing something she wasn’t supposed to see. Mainstream news network CBN soon interviews her as well as identity-concealing digital vigilantes who have released video of a violent rape attempt. The video shocked people nationwide and brought to light issues of ineffective police surveillance and the ethics of fighting crime by merely watching it happen.
A long, episodes-spanning flashback shows us how Maura’s come to this point: An aggravating job for “The True World” in which she sees how manufactured so-called reality television truly is. A humiliating firing due to Charlie’s false sexual harassment charges. A tail-between-her-legs return to her former employer, a tacky bar & grill run by a chauvinistic and cost cutting manager where she hides a video camera to catch him in a typically sleazy act only to accidentally film the attempted rape of a waitress.
FEED has an interesting premise but is too often mired in shaky logic, confused ideas, and needlessly complicated storylines.
Showing how the rise of small arms video equipment and ubiquitous Internet channels change the face of crime prevention and information dissemination can be approached from many fascinating angles, but FEED doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. The reporter’s awkwardly staged interview with Maura reveals this. Her piece incorporates a candid confession from a CBN editor about following marching orders from producers who dictate and control what can and can’t be shown on the network. But if that’s so, how is the editor’s admission being broadcast?
Maura’s increasing disappointment with the lies of “reality television” and the reality of behind-the-scenes lies rings true, but FEED goes frustratingly far afield from its original raison d’etre, especially once the mob comes after Maura for her voyeuristic trespasses and another group of digital vigilantes joins forces with her ragtag crew.
The series hasn’t concluded yet, however, and I’m still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Those earlier, unexplained references to Maura’s penetrating visions into the true nature of reality and some sort of unintentionally contagious viewing of a beheading have to go somewhere, right?