Let's just be clear about this up front: working for an online publication does not offer a lot of opportunities to break out into song, and though we don't work at the Huffington Post, we assume that holds true for their day-to-day blogging operation as well. Still, Amazon Studios—the original content division of Amazon.com—has attempted to transform the thrilling world of staring at a computer screen and writing blog posts into a musical comedy with Browsers, a show you probably should watch because for its so bad absurdity.
Browsers was not made by nobodies. The pilot was directed by Don Scardino, a 30 Rock producer who recently helmed The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It stars an actress with Broadway chops—Bebe Neuwirth, who is probably best known as Fraiser's wife/ex-wife Lilith—as Julianna Mancuso-Bruni, an Arianna Huffington-like figure. It was written by Daily Show writer David Javerbaum. Because of its pedigree, it's tough to say where exactly things went so wrong. Is Browsers winking at us, aware of its lameness in order to make us laugh? Or is it just plain old bad, earnestly believing that it is tapping into what it's like to be a 22-year-old at an online publication with songs about viral videos and the power of Twitter?
But let's start with credit where credit is due. Their fake Huffington Post, the Daily Gush, looks a lot like the real Huffington Post.
The show focuses on four interns whose jobs might be in jeopardy because of the site's apparent "winnowing week." You see, it's cutthroat in the world of blogging, and one of these fresh-faced young things must be eliminated if he or she is not up to the tasks of finding links to feed the content monster that is the Daily Gush. Alas, even in the face of extreme competition, this group of earnest young things decides to stick together. Our cast of characters includes the unflappably earnest Kate, the black crusader for social justice Gabriel, the dude who lives with his dad and is really into his Twitter account Josh, and the stoned Asian girl Prudence. Prudence is actually really good at finding viral videos, apparently, which leads her to sing a song about "going viral," in which she croons: "everywhere I look I see, a chipmunk on a water ski."
Josh, meanwhile goes all rock star after he's shot down by the music editor, and proceeds to send sends out a nasty tweet about her ("#gushmusic wears granny panties"). His song is titled "When I Tweet":
The drama hits its peak when Gabriel has an altercation with an Ann Coulter like figure, and Kate stands up for him to Julianna herself. Kate's interaction with the media goddess, prompts Julianna to burst into song about how she's a person "with whom not to fuck."
The use of that "fuck," along with the constant and wrong-headed references to the trappings of social media, implies that Browsers would like to be edgey, something along the lines of Avenue Q. But it seems that Browsers just does not know their audience. They might be aiming for the Glee crowd, who wants more characters with penchants for song. Or their target could be an older Daily Show watcher, whose main source of news is the Huffington Post. Or is maybe is an inside job, aimed at the people who actually produce online content. We hope that last one isn't their intention, because as members of that last group the show makes us want to bang our head against a wall. Sure, the Arianna parody is slightly amusing, but songs about young people sticking it to the proverbial man with Twitter? Really? That's how you think we use social media?
We have no idea whether Browsers will go any further. Amazon released all its pilots online so that the audience could help decide which ones will go to series. Browsers currently has three and a half stars — tied for last among the comedy pilots along with Zombieland. We almost want to see more just to figure out what other musical numbers they will come up with. A ditty about a post going live? An ode to Instagram?
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