Sometimes a web series comes across my desktop which gets it. The kind of show which knows what it wants and is capable of delivering it. Other times I see hows suffering from an unfortunate divide between what it is trying to be and what it actually is. Sadly, Jill and Jenny is that kind of show.
Based around the lives of two thirty-something women who abruptly become flatmates, Jill and Jenny aims to be a sweet, endearing lighthearted comedy. Jill (played by Jessica Kennedy) and Jenny (Jessica Lafrance) find themselves at a time in their lives where they need to find a new place to stay, Jenny has just come out of a breakup and Jill is getting increasingly annoyed at her flatmates. Essentially Jill and Jenny is an odd-couple comedy – Jill is a somewhat self-involved aspiring creative who doesn’t always get social etiquette, and Jenny is a passive, quiet person with low confidence. It’s a pretty classic set up, so where does it go wrong?
Frankly, for me, it’s all just a little bit too nice. Everything has this cutesy, sugary-sweet feel about it in this show, this all becomes a little tiring after a while. The charm of this series is also it’s weakness. The thing is, it’s almost refreshing to see a web series try and actually be endearing and friendly, it makes a welcome change. However, in Jill and Jenny’s, ironically, ruthless pursuit of that kind of atmosphere, they seem to have forgotten that they also have to be funny.
There was only one scene in this show which actually made me laugh (I watched all 6 episodes to be sure, it was the dinner scene in episode 4 if you’re interested), and all the good intentions in the world won’t stop that being a damning indictment of the thing. The creators of the show certainly deserve some recognition for trying a very different approach to the web series format than we usually see (out with the crude, in with the friendly), but as a comedy series, Jill and Jenny fails to hit the mark.
In general the direction (by Vivienne AuYeung), whilst not particularly inspirational, is definitely in the realms of high competence, and the sound production is decent also. The acting is also fairly good, but it often lacks the emotional force which is needed, and comes off a little flat. The constant cutesy niceness has the opposite problem of the constant crassness of something like Wingman Purgatory - it fails to capture anything real about the characters, it all seems to be hidden away with this false sheen, this weird mask some poorly written series’ put over their writing to disguise a lack of depth. The great strength of a show like High Maintenance is that it manages to be comedic whilst also capturing the complexity and eccentricity of human life – in a word, it has pathos, and ultimately, this show doesn’t. I never once cared about the characters, because the atmosphere didn’t make me feel like anything genuinely bad could happen to them, and even when it did (SPOILER ALERT: a breakup), it didn’t seem to have any major effect on them.
Ultimately, this show’s obsession with seeming delicate and cutesy makes it completely lose the human touch, it has some potential – there’s certainly space for a nice, lighthearted show about 30-something women – but sadly, it is squandered potential, what could have been quite a fun series just ends up being a bit dull.
You can watch episode one below, and follow the series @Jill_and_Jenny