Friday, March 4, 2011

"Dorm Life" hits the proverbial frat boy on the proverbial visor

You missed something. It's called Dorm Life, and it's a mockumentary web series on Hulu. Season 1 (2008) and Season 2 (2009) are both still available there, and each episode is only 5-10 minutes long. So, go watch it, and then come back and read the rest of this blog. 

I know, right? Pretty fucking awesome. You don't even have to be in college to enjoy this show. Now, I know what you're gonna say: "But Le Manuel, if YOU are in college how do you know that a non-college person would like Dorm Life? Did you take an official poll? Did you do extensive web research?" Well, no, even better: I used my thinking place to figure out why I like the show, and then thought about how I'm always right, so my opinion should apply to the rest of the world. I'll demonstrate: 

Dorm life is awesome because:

- It uses the mockumentary style to its advantage, not ignoring the fact of the cameras (I'm looking at you, Dunder Mifflin), and creatively using webcam diaries as talking heads. There's even an episode called "The Screening" in which the characters watch everything that we've seen so far. It's meta, it's cheeky, it satisfies every frustration I've ever had with the mockumentary format. 

- The plot is original, and the quick 5-minute running time cuts out any fluff. There are the expected romantic, rivalry, makeover, and argument story-lines, but they play off as fresh as Summer's Eve(tm). But there are also story arcs that I guarantee you've never seen before (World's Largest Beaver, all I'm gonna say). 

 - Each character is played by a highly comedic and well-timed actor, forming what we in the cliche business like to call an "ensemble cast." While the characters themselves are stereotypes/caricatures/imitations of typical college students, they aren't only funny because of their familiarity. They stand on their own as interesting people. But I believe college kids would especially like the portrayal of people that we all know: the sororiskank, the lovable frat-bros, the uptight Mama's boy, the overenthusiastic activity girl, the asshole RA, the weird artistic kid, etc. No matter how obnoxiously annoying these kids are in real life, in the show they bond and have fun on their hall floor and it's a perfect blend of "fucking hilarious" and "awwwww."

- Now I know you might not all agree with me, but a big reason I believe I enjoyed Dorm Life so much is because it ended. Cruel, right? Well I think that having an end makes a story worth something. How many high quality, respected, original soap operas have you seen lately? There's an unfair sentimental value to the Show that Never Ends, we get emotionally attached to the characters and tend to ignore things like plot, character development, and pacing all for the sake of watching those specific people. This is why when long-running shows finally do end (Lost, That 70s Show, Buffy), many fans feel that the show already "jumped the shark" at a much earlier point. Some very good shows - like Veronica Mars, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or Firefly - only had a few seasons and are practically worshiped as immortal examples of perfect television. 

Now, ignore that last paragraph, because I want a Season 3 of Dorm Life! Not that it should go on forever, but I want to at least find out how their sophomore year goes. 

Take it from me, my minions, this one you should see! 

Le Manuel

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