If you’ve sampled Miranda’s YouTube videos and decided they weren’t for you, the Netflix series might not be your next binge-watch option. But for those of us who’ve found Miranda and stuck around to see what possible ridiculousness she could get up to next, her new show is even better than anticipated.
So what makes the Netflix show different than Miranda’s YouTube account?
This is Miranda’s origin story. Her attempt to gain fame, her need for recognition, her aspirations, everything she dreams of all begins to come together, albeit in fits and starts as she navigates the internet, seeming “opportunities”, and people’s’ perceptions of her.
We get to meet her friends and family. While some of them (namely her mother and uncle) have been alluded to on her web channel, we get a full cast of people who revolve around Miranda in her daily life: Her mother Bethany (played by “The Office” alum Angela Kinsey), a hypochondriac grocery cashier; her manager and uncle Jim (Steve Little, who also plays multiple characters on “Adventure Time”), her realistic, grounded sister Emily (played by relative newcomer Francesca Reale), and her best friend, ice-cream salesman Patrick (Erik Stocklin, also known for his work on the film “Donner Pass” and television show “Mistresses”).
Each of them have their own lives, dreams, and setbacks, allowing us a fuller picture of what life is like in Miranda’s world. We see throughout the series how each relationship has affected Miranda: her mother’s refusal to crush her dreams (or allow her out into the “real world”), her uncle’s enabling of her egomania, her sister’s refusal to take her seriously, and her friend Patrick’s adoration all culminate in Miranda’s inability to see herself as she really is — though of course, we the viewers don’t see who she truly is either, at least not at first.
While at times it seems as if everyone (including us) is laughing at her, Miranda’s determination to scale the heights and snag some fame for herself begins to lead us to a kinder view of her. She is, after all, the inside-out version of all of us. Her ability to say and feel what she wants without letting the repercussions or consequences bother her is even, at times, an admirable quality. Don’t we all wish we didn’t care what other people thought of us? Isn’t that what’s holding a lot of us back?
This isn’t exactly a fairytale, however. While Miranda doesn’t seem to mind at first that she’s pushing people away with her pursuit of glory, we begin to see what happens when we take our relationships for granted. When we believe that no matter what we do, people will stick around because they want to be part of the spotlight, when we treat people with disregard because they don’t fit into our plans, or when we break promises, we can’t expect people to stay.
Toward the end of the series, (particularly the last episode), the dark edge of fame creeps in and takes hold. Miranda may be, in one sense, getting what she’s always wanted, but she will have to experience it alone. Is fame really worth it?
What’s particularly interesting in this series is that for the most part, we laugh at Miranda along with the rest of the cast. Her mother and sister don’t take her aspirations seriously. Uncle Jim just wants to be part of her entourage. Her best friend Patrick is the only one who loves Miranda as she is.
Have we spent all this time with Miranda only to laugh at her? Do we care about her feelings? Or is she just some joke that we can set aside when it no longer makes us chuckle? Isn’t this what happens to many of our favorite stars?
“Why is it funny that someone would love me?” Miranda asks.
Haters Back Off! Is a deeply funny, darkly comedic, sharply intelligent show about the cost of fame. Hopefully, a second season will give us a ray of hope that being famous doesn’t have to mean being alone.
In the meantime, I’ll go leave an encouraging comment on Miranda’s YouTube channel.