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Know Your Web Series: The Burg

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.

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  • how about says:

    @how about “hipsters we love” becomes “hipsters we tolerate”

  • gah says:

    @gah the burg is boring. but i can’t get away!

    xander & spring need to get it on already.

  • ... says:

    @... i tried with this thing once. i had trouble making it through the first episode. not that i have a problem with hipsters or anything, it just failed to justify itself as a worthwhile waste of time.

  • tinks says:

    @tinks Plothole: the roommate who can’t make rent? What, no trust fund or parental funding?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous You joke about that, but it’s actually addressed: they’re all trust fund babies except Early. His busking “job” is basically the only one any of them have.

      Also, to #3, the first episode drags a bit and a good amount of weak jokes, I agree. The second episode isn’t perfect, either. If you want to give the show another shot–and it’s worth it–try one of the other ones I recommended, or “Project,” which is another one I just re-watched and remembered how good it was.

      1. ... says:

        @... ok… project actually had some funny bits… however, it still feels like the glue between their gags is weak and it doesn’t really draw you in well…

        my favorite hipster spoof would have to be a king of the hill episode from about a year ago. it’s pretty brilliant (and it’s on hulu). (“king of the hill hipsters” would surely bring it up)

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous Awesome, nice recommendation. I had heard about that episode when it came out but never saw it until now on Hulu. King of the Hill in general is a pretty underrated show that I should watch more.

          What was really smart about the King of the Hill hipster thing was that you didn’t have to really be inundated with hipsterism already to find it funny. They did a smart job of more or less explaining what a hipster was as well as making more hipster-y in-jokes (like the one about Austin). If there’s one major criticism I have for the Burg, it’s that it assumes that you already know people like this and that you on some level enjoy spending time with them, making the storylines engaging rather than repulsive. I’d still say I prefer the Burg, but that King of the Hill episode is probably the only successful comedic take on hipsters I’ve seen that doesn’t play solely to a niche market (like the Burg does).

  • a child says:

    @a child pornography joke is never out of place.

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