Conceived, written and shot in Silverlake, LA – the beating, ironic heart of hipster (not so) counter-culture, Hipsterhood explores what it means to be young, single and desperate … To appear as anything but “surface” to those around them. Inspired by every day life in hipster haven Silverlake, writer, director and rising indie star Shilpi Roy has succeeded in pinning down and presenting to us, something intangible – an honest and keenly aware look into a (not so!) counter-culture that is defined by its own, deep self denial and insecurity. A culture trapped by its own paradoxically conformist non-conformity.
Following the almost-intertwining lives of two hopelessly neurotic hipsters, known only to us as “Cereal guy” (Kit Williamson) and “Faux-fur girl” (Elizabeth Ferraris) the show jumps between its two leads, using their inner thoughts and dialogue to frame their awkward social interactions – it’s a simple yet effective storytelling device that’s gaining more and more popularity as of late (See: Peepshow, see The Louise Log) but feels a perfect match for the show, given its subject matter – and it’s Hipsterhood’s subject matter that I find most intriguing.
The premise itself is tight and enjoyable – “boy sort of meets girl – will they/won’t they?” Its cultural insights are sharp and well observed, and it’s written and filmed with a loving detail to wardobe, dialect and locale that lends its snarky criticisms a weighty credibility… The spot-on dialogue had me coming back for more every episode – but as I watched, I couldn’t help but find myself wondering… is it very funny? The thought struck me a few episodes in, and by the time the series finale credits rolled, I felt like the answer was … Sort of… Sometimes…
Now don’t get me wrong, Hipsterhood had me grinning from ear to ear throughout, and it did make me laugh, but (perhaps fittingly) Hipsterhood being billed as simply a comedy feels somehow… inaccurate – a disservice. It’s lighthearted, it’s clean and it’s fun, yes – but its real achievement is not making you laugh, (it’ll do that, but not with any great frequency) it’s making you care.
You see, beyond the shows titular gimmick, there exists an endearing slice of life story about two young people struggling to understand themselves and their place in the world. It’s a story that works on a basic human level and speaks honestly and earnestly about modern-day social encounters and suburban living. The understated and naturalistic cinematography does a great job of putting you there in each situation, not as a participant but an outside observer. Cinematographer, Anthony C. Kuhnz seems to have effortlessly achieved what many strive for and fail at. The nuanced performances from Elizabeth and Kit also run with this theme – we’re distantly observing two people who are hyper aware of their outside appearance, whilst also hearing their every, air-headed thought. The result is an endearing sense of intimacy and familiarity with two characters who might otherwise bore or worse, annoy.
So what’s next for Hipsterhood?
Three months running now, and updated semi-regularly, Hipsterhood shows no immediate sign of slowing down, or dropping off the scene altogether (see Dad Drives and The Bitter End), though only nine episodes in the initial premise feels as though it’s thinning, or perhaps simply morphing into something more robust. It’s entirely possible. Unlike some other independent producers, Shilpi’s writing and directing remains remarkably consistent, she’s successfully created a coherent looking and sounding world that I can easily see growing into the next big thing.
If her latest episode of Hipsterhood is anything to go by, she’s also unafraid of taking the bold steps to evolve a popular formula that’s at risk of growing stale – a good sign, as I’d love to see this web series grow and become something worth tuning in for every week.
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