Babelgum’s Date A Human a Clever Mix of Aliens and Romance

6 Comments

[show=dateahuman size=large]It’s not hard to imagine the pitch on Date A Human.com (the dot com in the title is really unnecessary, if you ask me, and thus in protest I shall not be using it any further in this review): “Bridget Jones dates aliens!”

And that’s exactly what is delivered in the first three episodes to premiere last week on Babelgum.com — Allie (Anne Griffin), a future single girl sick of being seen by men not as a sex object, but as a means of repopulating the human race, is convinced by her cat-alien roommate Ruthie (Brooke Lyons) to date outside her species’ gene pool via an online dating site.

The split between the sci-fi and romantic comedy genres is weighted slightly more heavily on the rom-com side, but that doesn’t mean the show’s setting is ever ignored. There’s no attempt here to accurately capture what a future Earth might actually be like, the series instead taking the clever approach of riffing on sci-fi tropes without demanding an extensive nerd expertise from its audience.

That’s not to say that there isn’t an attempt at world-building, though; in fact, one of Date A Human‘s greatest charms is the level of detail built into each scene and character. The level of creativity on display here is truly impressive, especially when it comes to the creature design — the aliens with whom Allie mingles wouldn’t look out of place in the background of the Mos Eisley cantina, and the practical and digital effects bringing them to life are top-notch.

The production values behind the show are great and the acting is uniformly solid — even Charlie O’Connell, Jerry O’Connell’s less famous brother, seems to have improved since his days on Sliders in his guest appearance in the first episode. However, the characters at this point lack full definition, especially Allie, whose resistance to the idea of making babies because “Even one child is too many!” is understandable from a 21st century perspective — but doesn’t really make sense in the face of the human race’s extinction. It’s definitely interesting that she prefers to be childless and thus at odds with the dominant messages sent by both society and biology, but the issue is brushed away instead of fully addressed.

The only motivation that the episodes to air hint at is that she doesn’t want to procreate because her mother, a still-active breeder, is so gung-ho about it. But not wanting to do something because another character wants you to do it isn’t quite enough reason for such a huge decision, and as much as I wanted to sympathize with Allie, I couldn’t help but side with the survival of the human race on this one.

The show does represent great strides forward for Babelgum’s fledgling brand of sci-fi comedy originals, which began with last fall’s disappointing Occulterers and Hurtling Through Space At An Alarming Rate. The major fault with both shows, looking back, is that they were rushed into production and thus didn’t get enough development in pre-production and enough time for refinement in post. In comparison, Date A Human is tight, well-written and polished — a good pairing for the similarly-toned antics of The Crew and a potentially strong future brand for the site. Provided, of course, that they don’t run out of story ideas — or fake alien fur.

Related GigaOM Pro content (subscription required): By the Numbers: Budget Analysis of a Web Series

Comments are closed.