Know Your Web Series: The Burg
Written by Bwog Staff
Since we know there’s only so much Hulu you can keep watching, Bwog’s enlisted comedy expert and television aficionado Rob Trump to guide us through the wonderful world of web series. First up: The Burg.
The Burg’s most recent short, “Jump,” [Sorry, we would embed video, but it’s not working — Ed.] opens with a cheap jab: “Have you guys seen this new ‘Hipster Olympics’ video?” gushes Ryan, the preppie-out-of-water, “They make all these jokes… like hipsters wearing tight jeans. It’s so true!” Cue Xander: “I couldn’t get through that shit.” And uber-hip Jed: “I don’t watch things with the word ‘hipster’ in them.”
Just like that, The Burg shows why it’s so much funnier and smarter than all the other milquetoast hipster-satire out there. The show, a sitcom centered on five hipsters (well, four hipsters and Ryan) living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, doesn’t just check off hipster stereotypes laundry-list style, it engages the truly hipper-than-thou persona of the main characters. There’s Xander, the excitable film auteur whose dress style pushes the boundary between intentional and unintentional irony; Courtney, the morally indifferent aspiring actress; Spring, the righteously liberal activist of the group; and my favorite character, Jed, the sour know-it-all and bass player in the band Sea Monkey Do. They’re all hipsters– that’s obvious enough — but they have importantly differentiable personae and potentials for disparate storylines and conflicts, which the team behind the show exploits wonderfully.
Take the pilot, “Cred,” for example, where Xander and Jed decide how to kick out their deadbeat roommate Early, who can’t pay his share of the rent despite busking with a sitar on the L-train. The show has a Seinfeldian desire to blow small things out of proportion into big dramatic conflicts, but in this case, it’s issues of hipness: Jed and Xander have to figure out how to get a new roommate who maximizes their cred but can still make the payments they need. Enter Ryan, a definite compromise towards financial stability and away from cred. The pilot has a handful of missteps (like a child pornography joke that is out of place and unnecessarily crude), but it’s obvious that these people are a thousand times smarter than the guys who made
“Hipster Olympics.” Take the intelligence and wit in the ending scene; when Jed dislike’s Ryan’s choice of drink, Ryan responds, “Negro Modelo’s a really good beer. “ So Xander explains, “That’s the thing. It’s too good. We drink Coors. It’s working class, and it tastes like water.”
Another testament to the show’s intelligence: watching every episode of the series will give you no clue as to what music or film the characters like. It’s just always assumed to be hipper than what you enjoy.
Almost all of the episodes are solid, well-written, and well-acted, but “Bar,” “Chemistry,” “Hood,” and “Show” probably stand out as the strongest. If you can make it through those without breaking out into painful laughter, the show might not be for you. I’m willing to bet, however, that almost nobody can. The Burg is the current reigning king of hipster-mocking comedy, and also possibly the best internet sitcom out there. They’re currently looking for a sponsor for their second season, so subscribe to their podcast and spread the word.