Let’s take a moment to talk about a strange and ubiquitous inhabitant of today’s internet landscape: the social media influencer. You know the type. Millennial. Self-described “lifestyle blogger.” Multiple Instagram posts per day. Perfect lighting. Radiant skin. Expensive clothes. Exotic locales. Thirsty for followers. #Grateful to be #blessed with such a strong #brand.
The staggering reality is that successful influencers can command hundreds or even thousands of dollars from sponsors for a single promotional post. But not everyone can be a social media star. The misadventures of a would-be influencer striving to make it in this oddest of all marketplaces is the subject of the new comedy web series Single Blonde Failure.
The show is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based comedians Carly Ann Filbin and Bobby Hankinson, and centers on the misadventures of Filbin’s titular character as she tries—and mostly fails—to make it as an online star, all along the way presenting a lifestyle to her followers that isn’t quite based in reality. Single Blonde Failure is a look behind the Instagram filter. “From the outside, she looks like she’s got it all together, but from the inside you see what’s really going on,” Filbin said.
Filbin, a member of Upright Citizens Brigade’s house improv team, and Hankinson, who writes for Towleroad, hatched the idea for Single Blonde Failure during long bus rides as cast members of the touring storytelling show Awkward Sex and the City. The series was filmed mostly in Brooklyn earlier this year.
Part of the show’s inspiration comes from Hankinson’s experience working with influencers on behalf of brands at a former job. “Getting a glimpse behind how all that works fascinated me,” he said. “This is like this weird cottage industry where we’re essentially paying people all of this money to take Instagram photos. The whole thing boggles my mind. It’s supposed to look so effortless and natural and fun, but it’s actually closely negotiated contracts and very business-y.”
The series is lighthearted, but it’s also a self-aware look at the weird and thoroughly postmodern dichotomy between real life and online presence. Filbin explained, “We’re both comedians and we kind of have to play the game ourselves. I’m like, ‘This is so gross that I have to take this picture, but I also know it’s promotion.’ So it also felt very personal in a way.”
While influencers might be the most egregious offenders, the phenomenon of careful self-curation on social media, to greater or lesser degrees, is near-universal. “Sure, some people get paid to do it from, like, Bacardi, but we’re all guilty of it,” Hankinson said.
Check out the first episode of Single Blonde Failure below and look for the rest of the series on YouTube soon.