In case you were running out of shows to watch about the misadventures of famous people's kids, Snapchat offers up a solution with its premiere web series, Literally Can't Even, written by and starring the daughters of Hollywood elite, Steven Spielberg and producer John Goldwyn. Real life friends and writing partners Sasha Spielberg and Emily Goldwyn play onscreen friends and writing partners trying realz hard to make it in L.A. using all the wild antics deemed necessary to make that happen…basically it's E!'s Instagram account in serialized format.
The messaging service has upheld its committment to create in-house content akin to that of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Just swipe right on the app's home screen and you'll discover Discover, a media platform that delivers a wide array of content from CNN, Cosmo, VICE, Comedy Central and The Food Network. New episodes of Literally, averaging five minutes in length, are released every Saturday on the app, and, in keeping with the Snapchat ethos, are only available for 24 hours to view until it disappears into the ether world.
The micro series follows Spielberg, who's totes bummed from a break-up and in need of all the clichés millennials will do to get over it, and Goldwyn, who is saving the world via a cleanse. Not able to drink alcohol, and feeling #AllTheHate in its premiere episode “Sip & Surf Pool Party XXX”, Goldwyn bravely overcomes her fear of being sober by pretending to be drunk (#ForwardThinker). Somewhere around the three minute mark, it's suggested these girls are also pursuing their careers…maybe.
Spielberg and Goldwyn are successful at having naturalistic, likable personas — like your best friends from college who never brush their hair. But they go for ditzy jokes and easy, ineffective, comedy. In “Fern”, this Saturday's latest and arguably most grounded episode, Goldwyn, who appears to lean more class valedictorian than L.A. bimbo, gives air quotes while saying “tax forms,” hinting that she doesn't know what they are. It's more unbelievable than a celebrity guest star's innocence on Law & Order.
Their #SooooooDone plot points and over-the-top sidekick characters don't match the tone of the rest of the series. It desperately wants to be Broad City, but it's more like a Mel Brooks-directed episode of Girls. The dissonance is particularly insulting in episode 2, “Blind Dates,” in which the girls go on simultaneous blind dates with guys who seem to be from the bottom of the Tinder cesspool. One date bleeds from the head, the other speaks French.
The series is so unrealistic and non-sensical that it might just be ahead of it's time. Another reason is its inventive cinematic style. It was shot and edited to be watched in portrait mode on the smartphone. Most of the time the screen is split in half, allowing the audience to take in the perspectives from each character at the same time. While snappy and creative, the technique is overused. So unless you're 11 years old or a regular Dramamine user, it can feel like riding Tatsu at Six Flags right after downing a blue-flavored slurpee. But, hey, that's what they said about color TV.
Here's the thing: This series is the beginning of something. Not necessarily something enjoyable, but something. Although Literally Can't Even has been universally panned by users who “literally can't even watch it,” Snapchat has 200 million monthly subscribers, so it's safe to say they're not done creating content. Earlier this month, Madonna became the first artist to release a video (“Living for Love”) on the app, to wild success. After all, who'd of thought that Amazon, an online bookstore, would one day be able to call itself a Golden Globe-winner?
Erin Stegeman on Twitter:
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: