I was a big fan of the first series of this satire of the vlogging world and youtube influencers but the second went in a slightly surreal direction, featuring a sentient algorithm responsible for creating bizarre children’s videos, while the character Liam Williams played became more and more of an unlikeable and selfish dick. It was still an enjoyable series, with many a fun moment, but the decline in quality was impossible to ignore however much I tried.
This first episode from series 3 is a return to form though and the show at its funniest, possibly because they’ve changed the character of Liam back to how he was in the first batch of episodes. Williams is still happy to send himself up, with the character now claiming he’s a political filmmaker who wants to make a time travel movie which addresses pit closures in the 1980’s and climate change in the 2020’s, but the character isn’t a real shit this time and the show’s better for it.
Having been filmed since the pandemic started there are a lot of references to social distancing and the misery that’s taken place in the last twelve months, most of the time when comedy has addressed covid-19 it’s been in a rather weak manner, but Williams manages to create some genuinely funny moments from the way he makes sure people social distance, and this first episode’s plot exists because of the impossibility of getting away. In the wrong hands this could have been annoying and irritating as who wants to be constantly reminded of the situation we’re currently in, but Williams handles it carefully and so it’ll make you laugh rather than sigh.
Part of the reason this first episode works so well is because Tim Key’s James Wirm has a large part to play in it and once again he’s an absolute delight, a ridiculously daft man who takes himself far too seriously and lacks awareness as to how idiotic his thoughts and beliefs often are, or at the very least is happy to live in a state of denial. It’s something many of the other characters also share, with youtube influencer Millipede (Emma Sidi) the most obvious case as she hits her late twenties and teams up with youngster HoneeeDeww (Eleanor Nawal) in a desperate bid to stay relevant.
It still mocks the selfishness and vacuousness of youtube influencers of course, which has always been the series main source of humour and it is a well that’s yet to run dry. So from one vlogger boasting how he’s selling his own toilet roll where “1% of proceeds go to the NHS” to the way “The Lockdown Lemon” dance challenge took off it contains many laugh out loud moments, and the show still throws in a number of amusing facts including how influencers with over 500,000 followers are supposedly exempt from covid restrictions, and that “The Who reports that the new most common cause of death for under 30s is ‘Fall From Immense Height While Taking Selfie Against Beautiful Panorama’.”
The first episode has a fair bit to do setting up the plot for the whole series and catching up with recurring characters, while the set up for this series is that Liam has once been given a task by James where he’s to become an influencer himself in various different fields. The the actual part where he tackles this on the Travel and Tourism front gets a slightly short shrift as it’s only dealt with in the final five minutes or so, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as it means it’s a tight bit of comedy where Liam spends five thousand pounds creating a fake holiday, manages to generate ten pounds profit, and James is actually impressed with him for once.
Expanding the series to take on a little bit of political satire with the fact that Mungo Slate (Graham Dickson) is a Minister For Influencers, and tipped as a future PM, this was the show at its finest. I hope it continues on such form too, and doesn’t repeat the mistakes of series two where it became too surreal and too absurd, but as long as it doesn’t it will hopefully be an essential piece of British comedy, something there’s really not enough of on tv right now.