The Influencer Show

….. by TeeJay

The Plot

Sam gets fired from being a teacher after he’s wrongfully accused of being racist. Without a job and without much of a life, he flies out to Bali to visit an old friend who suggests there is a lot of easy money to be made by becoming a social media influencer. Not knowing what else to do, Sam reinvents himself as a made-up persona with a micropenis to make a stand for all the other people out there with a super small schlong, supported on his journey by his best friend Branden and his buddy Jeremy.

The Character

Sam Harris, the former teacher who is unfortunately caught in a wrongful racism accusation and ends up getting fired for it. He’s kind of a regular middle-class dude who just wants to live the middle-class life, but then life happens and he takes the plunge of becoming an influencer. Not quite so comfortable with the fakeness of it all, he struggles a little at first but then quickly gets into the swing of things. Along the way, he meets a reporter who is covering the local influencer scene, and sparks start flying. How will it turn out for Sam and his newfound life purpose of trying to sell his new online persona to all his followers?

The Review

The show was created, written and directed by Chris and his best friend Andrew McFarlane, both of whom are also part of the main cast of the show, with another good friend Dov Tiefenbach completing the main cast trio. It has 15 episodes that are each between 10 and 20 minutes long.

The tone of the show is definitely comedic, some of it fairly in-your-face, slapsticky humour, although the overall message of the show is definitely satirical. Without spoiling too much, it’s obvious that the intent of the web series is to criticise the influencer business and the marketing tactics used in that profession (and debatable if one should even call it a “profession”).

Personally, I will say I’m not completely in love with the series. While I love seeing Chris tapping into his humorous side, the on-the-nose type of comedy isn’t my thing in general and I have a hard time warming up to that genre. The writing was pretty solid, although I felt sometimes lacking in cohesion and in balancing the right tone between comedy and satire. In particular, I felt the ending was a little too hastily dealt with, and the final resolution felt forced and not genuine enough.

What annoyed me more than the somewhat hit-and-miss writing was the editing. I don’t know if this had to do with the fact that perhaps the series was meant more for being watched on a mobile device (I watched it on my large TV in the living room), but there would often be very hasty cuts back and forth between close-up shots of the characters that only lingered on their faces for a second or two and then would cut away again before you could even take in the facial expression. There was one scene in particular where this started annoying me so much that I wished they had just filmed the scene in a way that you could see both characters in the same shot rather than them constantly switching back and forth between them.

It’s also fairly clear that this was a passion project filmed on (presumably) a very low budget. I didn’t recognise any of the other actors (which doesn’t have to mean much, I’m a little out of touch with the Hollywood scene these days), but I assume they were mostly working with people they knew or were friends with. There was one guy in particular who struck me as very awkwardly inept at acting – in one scene it even looked as if he was reading the lines from a piece of paper stuck next to the camera. I’m not sure if this was meant to be on purpose, but it didn’t resonate with me at all.

In the 3½ total hours of the series, there are very few characters other than the three main cast, and they must have switched between perhaps the same two or three apartments and a strip of beach where they filmed most of the scenes. I understand why they had to shoot it that way, but it felt very clearly not comparable to larger productions that have access to more professional sets, locations and extras.

I may be very biased here, and I don’t know much of Andrew or Dov’s other work, but Chris was the only one whom I felt was bringing something to the table that didn’t make the whole thing feel super fake and over the top. That said, perhaps fake and over the top was what they were going for and I just didn’t vibe with the tone of the series.

Now I feel like I’m undeservedly bashing the series, seeing how it’s pretty much a super low budget private project with limited resources that Chris and his friends put together and put out there for the world to see. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about it, but it just didn’t push my buttons enough. (Sorry, Chris. I’m sure you poured lots of love and time and energy into it.) Hopefully others will find it much funnier and more worthwhile than I did, but I think we can say it wasn’t a huge hit with the general public, seeing how the episodes average around 150 views (dropping from an initial 10k of the pilot that they presumably promoted to get the word out).

The Links

….. YouTube playlist of all the episodes in the right order