Based off of Colleen Ballinger’s YouTube character Miranda Sings, a flamboyant personality with peculiar pronunciation, copious amounts of lipstick, and an unusual yet admirable belief in herself, Haters Back Off! is Netflix’s first venture into the world of YouTube. In the span of eight episodes, the show takes viewers through a whirlwind of emotions that swirl back and forth rather than continuously in one direction. Despite the cartoonish tendencies, Ballinger shows the underlying theme of wanting to be accepted wonderfully through her combined portrayal and acting of her own character.
The show’s character work, as a whole, is its strongest backbone. Besides Ballinger as Miranda, the show also featured Angela Kinsey as her mother Bethany, Francesca Reale as her sister Emily, Erik Stocklin as her best friend Patrick (who is not so secretly in love with her), and Steve Little as her uncle Jim.
Bethany’s defining characteristics are her wrist brace for her “undiagnosed fibromyalgia,” which speaks to the person she is, her blind support of Miranda, and her Amish-esque clothing. Though her blind support of her daughter is a turn-off, it is nowhere near as bad as the support from Uncle Jim, who is Miranda’s manager. His relationship with his niece is at times perverted and generally uncomfortable to watch, which is merely one example of the show’s uncomfortable tendency to use sexual humour. If done right, sexual humour can add a great element to a show but Haters Back Off! does so in a way which makes it cringe worthy and even difficult to watch.
However, the show has moments of goofiness that are undeniably funny, such as when the choir director Keith asks Miranda if she’s an alto or soprano and she replies, “I’m an American.” The best humour is built upon the general cluelessness of Miranda.
The most enjoyable people to watch are Emily and Patrick, as the two become the show’s primary source of humanity. Miranda’s sister is shown to be the only “normal” character, or the only voice of reason. As the show progresses, the viewer gains a sense of sympathy for Emily for being victim to the unintentional actions of Miranda. Reale has an excellent portrayal of the prototypical teenager who is embarrassed of her family yet loves them at the end of the day.
What the show hits to a T is the awkward teenage “romance” of Patrick and Miranda. Patrick is the shy geek in love with the girl of his dreams, who herself is awkward. Combined, it creates a pleasant mess. In a show with glaring negatives, “Mirandick” makes up for some of them.
Besides their budding romance, the greatest positive of Haters Back Off! is a relatability to Miranda in the sense that we all live in a world where we just want to be accepted, whether it’s by random people, or the people we love and care for. Despite having actions that vex those around her, and the viewer, Miranda is just another person trying to find their place in the world and that in and of itself is admirable. However, the build up of the show is frustrating at times and though the ending makes up for it, it may not be worth watching seven 30-minute episodes to get to the eighth.
Ultimately, people who know of Miranda Sings prior to watching will have a higher chance of liking the show, while people who do not will have a harder time adjusting and understanding Miranda’s humour. I definitely recommend watching it but I do not blame the people who stop after the first episode. It is not for everyone, that is for sure.