I honestly could never understand the whole “Annoying character = comedy” routine. But it appears to be a ripe place on YouTube for television creators to exploit, as we saw a few years ago with concoctions like the Annoying Orange television program on Cartoon Network. Much like that dud, Haters Back Off! relies on this trope for whatever reason to try to convey comedy. What we get, however, is just a painfully unwatchable tirade of actors and actresses who know they can do a lot better than this.
Haters Back Off! is a Netflix original series based off the series of Miranda Sings videos. Miranda (Colleen Ballinger) is a talentless, narcissistic oddball who one day decides to try to make it big on YouTube by singing her favorite songs. However, the fame quickly goes to her head well before she becomes YouTube famous, such as making unwelcome “special guest” appearances at her younger sister’s school.
What makes the idea of the “annoying web series personality” work on YouTube is the shortness of their on-screen presence. The quick two or three-minute video format allows for some decent jokes to land with an overly obnoxious character, because we never have too long to realize just how irritating these individuals would be if we endured them for any longer. They were in, and they were out, and it worked. But when you transfer these characters to an entire half hour of supposed “comedy” in the form of a television series is where their problems come to the forefront. There’s no way around it either, because we’re stuck with these maddening people for so much longer than normal. Haters Back Off! is no different from this problem, and instead of trying to learn from past abominations like Fred the Series or The High Fructose Adventures of the Annoying Orange, it just completely falters in its own special way. The mentality of Miranda is just too grating and unfunny to carry a show on her own, and with a fairly cliche tale of “the talentless individual trying to make it big” as the backbone, there just isn’t anything salvageable or memorable to make this show worth a watch. Just a few minutes, there’s a scene where Miranda begins eating an ice cream pop in the most obnoxious way you could imagine, and I just remember instantly thinking “Well, this is gonna suck.” And I was right.
To be fair, the few jokes that do manage to work don’t come from the lead character at all. Rather, it’s a select few supporting cast members who are a lot more grounded than the flamboyance of Miranda. For example, Patrick (Erik Stocklin) tries to bolster Miranda’s career as quickly as possible by opening her first video on numerous laptops, which leads to the fame going to her head. That was actually pretty funny. In addition, Miranda’s younger sister Emily (Francesca Reale) being the only sane member of the family allows for a few jokes to land, thanks to the weirdness of being a witness to such a strange sister. That’s still not enough to recommend the show mind you, but there’s an obvious sense of glimmer behind the mess on-screen where someone, somewhere was trying to make the best of what they were given.
I know Colleen Ballinger is capable of portraying better charismatic creations, but it appears her YouTube career skyrocketed off of this one, rather bland and unfunny character of Miranda, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s all she stuck with until the cash cow ran dry. Yet, much like that of former YouTube sensation Fred, I can’t see the success lasting that much longer. While it’s nice that Netflix is trying to diversify their lineup of comedy originals, this really wasn’t the best way to do so. If you were a die-hard fan of the Miranda Sings series, maybe you’ll find the humor in this show that I just couldn’t.