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Angst, Tears, Product Placement, More Angst

I had neither seen, nor heard of, the new Web video series “quarterlife” before today. If only I could turn back time.

The lead character is a girl named Dylan, complete with pouty lips and an overly earnest brow. The producers are the same “creative minds” behind “thirtysomething,” the whiniest show ever. Judging by their inability to capitalize titles and their soul-baring narratives, they’ve no doubt read too much E.E. Cummings.

Slate critic Troy Patterson actually had to endure the series, and he’s none too happy about it:

As a rule, if the female characters are not actively crying, then they’ve either just stopped or they’re wrinkling up their button noses in an attempt to start again. Lisa cries when she finally gets a look at Dylan’s blog, which depicts her as an alcoholic strumpet. “You put my face all over the frickin’ Net!” she bawls, rage overwhelming her faculties such that she can relay her thoughts only in the corniest terms. Lisa’s lower lip also gets to trembling when her acting teacher humiliates her in front of her class. (Hershovitz himself plays the teacher; quarterlife is so full of such rabbit holes and mirror tricks—the Toyota ad built into the plot, the fact that Dylan posts her videos on—that it sometimes resembles a kind of kiddie Borges.)

Elsewhere, Dylan cries because she loves Jed—”The thing about Jed is, he really is an artist,” she says—but he loves Debra. The boys also get in on the act, with Jed mewling because he loves Debra and she loves Danny. Meanwhile, Danny mists up because he’s not a talented filmmaker and really needs Jed in order to get by, bro. All of them quiver and moon. None of them arouse our sympathies because they indulge their misery with rather too much relish. After all, if Dylan were content, what would she blog about? “Why aren’t you happy?” one of her friends asks in a lighter moment. Dylan responds in a preteen pout: “I don’t feel like it.” It’s supposed to be cute.






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