Reviews: Lonelygirl 15

Roar, Roar, Fight the Order

Well, it's been a while. I finished this series back in December of '08, and I'm just now coming back to tell y'all:

lonelygirl15 has a good concept. (I won't comment on the controversy over presenting it as a real blog at first.) It has a slow beginning, properly picks up about... seventy-odd videos in, and carries on from there, all the while attempting to make the series seem "real". It sometimes succeeds, too. The actors are certainly capable, and they do their best to sell it.

Unfortunately, this is a mixed bag. During stretches when it pulls off the "real" feel fairly well, this tends to manifest in a very slow plot, without enough character development or video-to-video entertainment to tide it over. Then the problems start to pile up, from little things like Technicolor Science and unconvincing writing, to inconsistencies and clear signs that the writers really don't have their world or story planned out nearly as well as they thought.

By the end, lonelygirl15 devolves into a confused tangle of forgotten plot threads, unanswered questions, and a climactic story arc that mostly raises more questions and sets up for lg15: the resistance, which at last count, answered few if any of the aforementioned questions and ended on a full-blown cliffhanger.

Recommendation: Skip it. If you do decide to watch it, cut off your viewing experience at either 1. the end of the first season, or 2. the LaRezisto arc, which is about halfway through the second season. Between them, that's as much of an ending as you're going to get. (And they derail Taylor, which she never quite recovers from. I liked Taylor.) Stop if you see them recapping the plot with paper plates, in which case it's trying to pull you back in, and forget you ever heard the name "Verdus Pharmaceuticals".

If you feel like more vlog-opera, you may want to try the spinoff series KateModern. Based on the thirty or so videos I've seen, its individual videos are more entertaining, the pace is relatively brisk, and according to fan testimony, it's more internally consistent (the finale does its darnedest to tie up every plot thread of the series and nearly succeeds) and... better. Going second might have had something to do with it.

But, then, you might just want to skip it altogether.

School Work in Summer... BLECHH!!! [episode 3]

The third episode, which as Bree helpfully informs us is also her third video blog, is not available from (the increasingly-unreliable) due to copyright issues, but may be found on YouTube.

This is a fun, lighthearted episode, in which we learn that Bree is homeschooled and see her studying in her bedroom. She reads us some trivia from her highly innaccurate textbooks, and erroneously informs us that the Romans were cannibals. Silly humour is provided by the as-yet unseen character of Daniel, by way of some... interesting editing.

While watching, it occurs to me that Bree was very shrewdly designed. She's cute - certainly cute enough to attract the usual YouTube perverts, as the comments under the video testify - but she's also intellectual, with a love of knowledge; at the same time, her apparent insecurities and self-deprecation make her seem approachable. She's geeky, but not too geeky; a little bumbling, but with the sense of humour to pull it off. In short, the Creators were aware of the YouTube audience of the time, predominantly bored, nerdy teenagers, and they designed a character with that audience very much in mind. This may seem overly analytical of a relatively minor detail, but at this point in the show, the central character was the show's only major selling point. The plot would come later.

Purple Monkey [episode 2]

Like the first episode, this is a very short, simplistic episode in which Bree, still in her bedroom, introduces us to P. Monkey, the lovable purple monkey puppet (in this episode, apparently female) who would become the show's most iconic stuffed toy character.

Another character who is first mentioned in this episode is Daniel, who edits Bree's videos and is, we are informed, "a dork", as is Bree. The decision to make a show starring "dorks", while not particularly original, was a smart move in this instance, this being a trait to which many Internet nerds can likely relate.

This episode notably makes liberal use of seemingly random editing tricks, which lends credence to the claim that these are early video blogs by a couple of bored teenagers.

This was still early days, obviously, and this resembles a genuine video blog more than anything else.

As a final note, Bree's expressions are wonderful. The actress has a very expressive face, very suited to a comedic role.

First Blog / Dorkiness Prevails [episode 1]

Wow. Major nostalgia here.

This episode was never uploaded to due to copyrighted content, but fortunately remains available on YouTube.

"First Blog / Dorkiness Prevails" was the first proper episode of lonelygirl15, not counting the promotional videos "Paytotheorderofofof vs. Dinosaur" and "YouTubers Secret Language". In this video, we see Bree, eyebrows and all, resting her head on her knee, vlogging, making jokes and pulling silly faces for the camera.

And that's it. One and a half minutes of Bree, video blogging in her bedroom. The content is hardly groundbreaking. She acts like a normal, slightly dorky teenager. She makes references to the YouTube celebrities of the time, back when the website was young and populated mainly by vloggers, rather than AMVs and stolen clips from TV shows. Even the title is a reference to thewinekone's "Hotness Prevails / Worst Video Ever".

And all this is exactly as it should be. It's a believable video, which introduces a believable character. The series could have gone anywhere at this point, which is what makes it so exciting.

So all things considered, it's not the most original or surprising video ever made, but it's not supposed to be. It's not really worth watching for its own sake, but it's the perfect start to a Vlog Series.