Sofia’s Diary: Halfway to “Well Guud”

After blowing up the chemistry lab at her old high school and being caught with some Ecstasy (which she swears does not belong to her), the titular Sofia of Sofia’s Diary is sent by her mother to live with her father in London. Being the new girl at school sucks, living with her dad’s new wife and toddler son sucks, not having any friends sucks. But social media sites are great, and so Sofia finds some comfort in producing webisodes about her life to send out to her friend Jo (and all her other Bebo pals).

Fortunately for her — and her audience — Sofia apparently has professional lighting and sound equipment, and opportunities for multicamera set-ups. It’s nice to see this level of production brought to the web, but the writing isn’t up to par: Sofia’s complaints for the most part lack any originality (whining about the cafeteria food is an especially uninspired touch). Watching the first two episodes, I can’t help but feel that the series would be greatly improved if Sofia were some sort of vampire slayer.

Sofia’s Diary takes a straight-up Choose Your Own Adventure approach to interactive storytelling, yet I wonder if the choices aren’t rigged to avoid deviation from a clearly planned storyline. When I voted for Sofia to attend Thursday’s party, 92 percent of other users at that point agreed with me. Have the creators actually plotted and shot an episode in which Sofia sits at home on Thursday night and surfs around on Bebo? Or have they wisely guessed that even if its audience might personally make the choice to stay home, they want to see Sofia do something different?

A co-production between BeActive and Sony TV UK, Sofia’s Diary is only new in English — the original Portugese concept began in 2003 as a fictional blog that eventually moved to radio, TV and mobile formats. According to comScore, new AOL acquisition Bebo.com had 11.4 million unique visitors from the United Kingdom in January. What better place, then, to host a web series from the point of view of a British teenager?

But while the first two episodes are well-paced and well-produced, the constant breaks with the first-person format become frustrating — in a media community where series like Lonelygirl15 fully exploited it, this halfway commitment to playing with the vlog style is more than a little disappointing. But the damage being done to the fourth wall apparently has little impact on the show’s audience, whose Bebo comments are numerous and enthusiastic. Those following Sofia’s Diary will at the least find themselves exposed to the very latest in British teen slang. “Well guud,” indeed.

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