In his post on last week’s launch of new video startup Independent Comedy Network, Chris Albrecht expressed doubts as to whether there’s room for another site built around funny video, especially in a market where even star-studded offerings on sites like FunnyOrDie and SuperDeluxe regularly go unnoticed. Having watched the first episodes of each of ICN’s initial five offerings, I’m not crazy about a lot of it, but there’s so far one show which seems to make the whole enterprise worthwhile. 2/8 Life, a spoof of the much-discussed quarterlife, is so smart and funny that it could easily render the target of its satire obsolete.
In a clear reference to My So-Called Life, creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick’s much-beloved 90s TV show,2/8 Life‘s four main characters are named Angela, Brian, Rayanne and Jordan. This is maybe more of a substantial inside wink than it first appears to be. quarterlife often plays as though there’s been an attempt to show Angela Chase and friends “all growned up,” although as I noted in my review, it rarely strives for MSCL‘s multiple levels of address. Angela is our precocious video-blogger, a self-possessed but barely self-aware smirker who insists that her video diary is about “making a difference.” Brian is the “best friend” who loves her, Rayanne is the slutty Craig’s List-sourced actress roommate, and Jordan is a moody musician — just like Jordan Catalano, but the young Jared Leto’s brown-eyed paragon of cool is swapped out for a chubby dude who is apparently really into that apotheosis of self-indulgent faux-bohemia, Rent.
2/8 works on a couple of levels. It’s a dead-on parody of the ways in which quarterlife seems to miss the point about contemporary youth culture –– particularly Internet culture –– but it also offers a corrective to quarterlife‘s lack of self-criticality. Casual racism, economic Peter Pan syndrome, romantic solipsism –– it’s all there. Where quarterlife seems to aim only to mirror the lives of the young white people that it hopes to appeal to (which is why even the show’s minor gaps in realism are generally so infuriating), 2/8 starts by mirroring quarterlife, and goes on to intelligently skewer the selfish, hypocritical real-life types that quarterlife glorifies without critique.