A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Haters Back Off! is a Netflix series based on the YouTube personality Miranda Sings. Miranda is mostly unappealing, painfully awkward, and unapologetically self-absorbed, but there's something to be said for her unfailing optimism and self-confidence in the face of criticism. The show's most responsible character, Emily, is a verbal punching bag for her efforts. Expect some thinly veiled sexual innuendo, two weak adult models, and marginal language in this offbeat comedy.
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What's the story?
In HATERS BACK OFF!, Miranda (Colleen Ballinger) is a socially awkward teen with aspirations of fame that prompt her to post an online video showing off her singing abilities. But when she's met with negative comments, Miranda refuses to accept the opinions of her "haters." With her promoter/manager Uncle Jim (Steve Little) behind her every step of the way and her diminutive mom, Bethany (Angela Kinsey), and adoring neighbor Patrick (Erik Stocklin) only focused on Miranda's happiness, she keeps her dreams of fame alive in a storm of other people's negativity, including that of her sister, Emily (Francesca Reale).
Is it any good?
Ballinger's transition from YouTube clips to a full-length series is painful at best. The nasal Miranda's delusions of grandeur might be funny in short bursts, but to watch her in 30-minute stretches as in Haters Back Off! almost requires breaks throughout. Not only is she hopelessly untalented -- and equally unaware of that fact -- she's also self-involved, ill-mannered, and oh, so whiny. Worse yet is how her family responds, with placidity and deference that just encourages her appalling behavior.
Of course, that is the show's shtick, and interestingly, Miranda's complete disregard for social mores also winds up being her best quality. In fleeting moments, Miranda represents a rare find, a teen girl who doesn't quite fit what society suggests is desirable but who doesn't much care. She's comfortable in her own skin, applies her lipstick with comical abandon, and thinks she's the next Adele, despite all evidence to the contrary. It's too bad she's such a cringeworthy role model, because she might have been a decent one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the pros and cons of the internet. How does having access to so much information help us learn beyond books? On the other hand, are there dangers associated with this kind of connectivity?
Is Miranda someone you would want to hang out with? Do you admire her self-confidence? What accounts for it, given how those outside her inner circle view her?
Do your teens watch viral videos or follow web personalities? How does the internet allow us to present ourselves differently from reality?
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