The most popular girls on YouTube
There is a long history of animated shows pushing the boundaries on acceptable content. “The Simpsons,” “Beavis and Butthead,” “Family Guy” and “South Park” share a legacy of humor that has caused many a mother to clutch her pearls. The advent of YouTube and Netflix has only allowed more creators to explore their creativity with the freedom animation lends to storytelling. One show to find success using YouTube is “The Most Popular Girls in School” which dramatizes the lives of high schoolers in Overland Park, Kan.
The show is not animated, but contains the same type of humor and language. Instead, the characters are dolls, like Barbie and Ken. The first episode shatters your expectations about what the dolls would be. They curse and are gross, vindictive and addictive. You are drawn into the lives of the cheerleading squad—hence the name of the show—and their struggles to remain popular while fending off a seemingly endless number of challengers to their supremacy. From winning the various school dance accolades to keeping their mall free from a rival cheer squad to dealing with the rise of hipsters, the show evokes a classic American idea of what high school is through the eyes of two adult men with dolls and a sense of humor shaped by raunchy, animated television.
The show holds many similarities to the long-running Comedy Central show “South Park” due to the intentionally low-budget aesthetic and the portrayal of kids using some of the most foul language known to man. I could not have guessed that I would spend hours watching these dolls move around in stop motion and deal with a high school experience that was nothing like my own. But I think that is what makes it so great. The reliance on the characters being so fun to watch draws you back in for another episode, even if it is two in the morning. The epic rants they go on, the life-changing put-downs that are thrown back and forth, the absurd, reality-defying turns that happen and the ridiculous voices will have you hooked. Since they are dolls, they are permanently fixed with smiles which only makes the writing that much better, since every emotion has to be depicted through tone and words alone.
Being on YouTube comes with its downsides. Creators are even more dependent on advertisers if they are not attached to a major studio, which means the foul-mouthed adventures of the Overland Park students are funded by the fans of the show through various crowdfunding sites. Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Patreon have been used to fund the show, which sometimes means long breaks between seasons. The fourth and fifth seasons were a little more than two years apart. But the wait is always worth it, as the creators have kept true to the brand; and every episode is made with extreme care and a genuine love for the characters.
I have kept this review spoiler-free as there is so much of the show that has to be experienced rather than told about. The general description of foul-mouthed teenagers doesn’t do the work justice for just how funny it is. It can sometimes feel like the show is trying to be “South Park” but in high school, but the show feels more like a piece of art inspired by the Matt Stone and Trey Parker creation, and not a direct copy. Start with the first four episodes of season one, which are just under 16 minutes, and you’ll get a really good sample of what the next 78 episodes have in store. High school may be an overused setting for television, but I promise you a visit to Overland Park High School will be a unique and memorable experience.