By “The Reviewer”
We ranked it:
YouTube’s most famous brotherly duo, Benny and Rafi Fine, debuted the second season of their hit transmedia series, “MyMusic,” in mid-August to a lot of fanfare. Makes sense considering the first season of the show accumulated more than 30 million views, and grabbed a bunch of IAWTV and Streamy nominations to boot.
In an interview with TheWrap back when the second season premiered, Benny Fine said he and his brother were inspired by the mockumentary format popularized by shows like the British and American versions of “The Office” and “Modern Family.” The problem was, according to Fine, that these shows used the mockumentary format without really addressing it — why do these camera crews follow these random people in an office, or this random incredibly diverse family in California? There is really no reason to, and no reason was ever given.
In “MyMusic,” that is addressed more directly, as the studio is being followed by a production crew as a result of receiving money from YouTube as part of the site’s original programming initiative — remember that? It’s a solid angle, and incredibly meta, considering “MyMusic” was a recipient of funding from YouTube to produce this, the first transmedia sitcom ever for YouTube.
Where the comparison to shows like “The Office” and “Modern Family” fails, though, is that fans of those shows would probably not like “MyMusic.” In fact, the best way to describe the show, and the second season to date, is to imagine if a mockumentary format was created for the Nickelodeon or Disney audience. Because that’s what this show is — something I could ostensibly see on one of those channels.
This shows up at a very granular level — down to the script and the way the actors act, “MyMusic” has a manic, over-the-top, slightly cartoonish vibe that wouldn’t really mesh on the broad “Modern Family,” or the spectacularly awkward and cringe-inducing “The Office” (the British version and the best seasons of the American version). Those shows are for adults, “MyMusic” is not.
I mean we have characters who are referred to as the music genres they represent — Hip-Hop is played by a black guy, Dubstep speaks gibberish, and the head honcho, Indie, is kind of a dick. Yes, there are attempts to round these characters out, especially Hip-Hop, who we learn isn’t actually into Hip-Hop, but loves geeky stuff. I credit The Fine Brothers, who write, direct, and produce this show, for trying to find different ways to fill out these characters. But even when Hip-Hop likens the cold closet he is being forced to work to Hoth, or the Fortress of Solitude, it doesn’t feel like he actually believes what he’s saying. That’s just what he’s supposed to say because his character isn’t what everyone, especially Indie, thought he was.
Would this show work better if it was targeted to a more adult audience? I don’t know. The other big aspect of “MyMusic” is its transmedia element, which spans everything from in-character social media accounts to a music website/blog that functions as an actual music site/blog in addition to a platform to continue telling the season-long story. I don’t know if adults would be as engaged, in that way, with a show online.
What “MyMusic” absolutely deserves credit for is how it feels like TV.
The show is distributed in weekly short-form clips. But every few weeks, the brotherly duo repackage several of the episodes into a 30-minute “sitcom version,” which is much more amenable to binge-viewing (which is what this reviewer did).
I think the biggest compliment I can give to any TV show, is that if it’s good enough, I become so engrossed in it that I forget I’m watching something on a screen. Movies can get away with cool camera tricks, and really experimental, complex stuff. That’s much harder to do with TV programming. To “MyMusic”’s credit, the direction and camerawork never get in the show’s way (which actually happens quite a lot with web-based programming).
And that’s really the conflict I have with this show. It’s really well done visually, and earns the right to compare itself to TV. That in itself is worthy of at least a few accolades. However, “MyMusic” won’t hit its peak until scripting and acting wrinkles are ironed out. Once that happens though, The Fine Brothers will really have something special.