Poking fun at hipsters. It hasn’t gotten old just yet. Probably because we all know someone who suffers from the ‘into it before it was cool’ syndrome, complete with fashion that begs attention and conversational threads that invariably get stuck around obscure stuff you’ve never heard of. Well, in case you haven’t seen Hipsterhood, it turns out that hipsters have feelings too.
Overly Attached Andy is a web series about ‘love, dating, and being a little too attached’. We follow the eponymous Andy shortly after his break up with Taryn. Andy only drinks water at room temperature and mocks a potential date for reading Twilight. He has the large, chunky glasses, the old school hat, the love of Jack Kerouac: he’s hipster through and through. Taryn was the only woman who understood him (suffering from a serious dose of hipsterhood herself) but now they’re over, and Andy is hitting the dating scene again whilst taking the dubious advice of his ‘romantically challenged’ friend, Jason.
The show premiers on the So Natural TV channel on YouTube every Tuesday. If that sounds familiar, you may be remembering the fun So Natural! sketch series that was featured on Funny or Die last year, usually involving a bunch of somewhat pretentious characters constantly trying to one up each other with their unique takes on subjects varying from child rearing and sex to politics and fashion.
So Natural! was written by writer / director / producer Leena Pendharkar, who also helms Overly Attached Andy and is responsible for setting up So Natural TV (later joined by producer, Jane Kelly Kosek).
They were kind enough to offer me the chance to have a sneak view of the series in advance and before it finishes its run (Episode 3 was released on Tuesday).
However, I’m left in somewhat of a quandary. On what basis do I give critical opinion of Overly Attached Andy? What conclusion I come to will vary considerably depending on what criteria I use. If the criterion is technical achievement then I am full of praise! It looks great. The budget is kept down by a scarcity of sets and a reliance on easy outdoor backdrops for most of the locations. The cinematography and lighting are great, giving a real sheen to the show. Similarly the colour palette really did shout ‘hipster!’ to me.
A focus on performances also elicits many positives from me. Andy Gates brings the ‘Andy’ character to life nicely. Given that the episodes are all so short though (barely over two minutes each) he has little time to establish a presence, but through an irritated twitch of the eye, or a drop of the head, I got a strong sense of the internal battle between loneliness and pretension. The cut-away that shows why his relationship fell apart is a great, and rare, flash into his personality that I much enjoyed. The remaining recurring cast consist of Andy’s now ex-girlfriend, Taryn (played by Taryn Horacek) and his rather-too-hairy-and-excitable friend, Jason (Jason Pickar). Both make great energy out of the material and time they have, but here’s where my dilemma comes to a head.
As well shot, well acted, and well made Overly Attached Andy is, I don’t feel it knows what it wants to be: Sketch show or web series? The episodes are structured pretty much like the lightning fast (and lacking in-depth) sketch format, but the humour is more designed towards engaging us with plotted character understandings. Although Andy himself does get minimal room to build a presence, the other characters are simply one-dimensional props to fill out the world. Taryn, even though she was costumed and pointed in the direction of ‘uber-hipster’, never really got the screen time to display any overt hipster behaviour; acting instead as a plot device for establish Andy’s ennui and failed dating attempts. Similarly, although Andy sobs a few times, we never see him being particularly ‘overly attached’ to Tayrn: just generally sad and inept. Given that we are supposed to be laughing at his hipster ways, some more over-possessiveness or longing for Taryn would have not only added depth, but also provided a ripe ground for extra gags.
I left each episode wanting more; a complaint that is probably the best complaint a web series can hope for. I wanted to know more about Andy; see him have more detailed conversations. I think if the show had exclusively picked a direction then the results would have been more focused. We need to really get to feel the workings of these people (which wouldn’t require much screen time, only more targeted scripting) in order for the character based jokes to land more effectively.
That said, the positives of a short format are such that when a one-off funny character is thrown into the mix they are very effective as stand alone folly. In Episode 3, ‘DTF, What’s That?’, Andy’s date is there on the understanding that imminent sexy times are a given, something Andy is oblivious to. This awkward interplay was probably my highlight of the show.
Overly Attached Andy is a credit to all concerned, as it is a professional and yet warm show that I enjoyed watching. Just give me an extra minute per episode to throw in some character detail and I’d be a happy reviewer. As it is, I will be keeping a close eye on all concerned with the show, because I have no doubt that an absolute corker will result from their talents later down the line.
Overly Attached Andy – Episode One: Andy Gets Dumped