First of all: San Fran? I guess I'm supposed to forgive creator Ryan Lynch for using my least favorite abbreviation of San Francisco in the title of her new web series, SanFranLand, which partly went live today. But I'll say right now that while the twelve-part series (of five-minute webisodes, five of which are online now) may have a few more chuckle-worthy moments than its gay HBO counterpart Looking, it strains for a few too many of them. And rather than give us a fun and light-hearted picture of the city in these very satire-worthy times, it pretty much just depicts 30-something white women in S.F. as shallow, slutty alcoholics.
SanFranLand kicks off with protagonist Bobbi Winter (Ashley Chaney) leaving Georgia to move to S.F. like a modern-day Mary Ann Singleton, joining her two gal pals who already live here, Tara (Chrissy Mazzeo), a schoolteacher who enjoys juicing her lunch, and booze; and Coco (Liz Anderson), a tech executive of some kind who enjoys lipstick, and booze. The two S.F. residents proceed to teach the newbie a thing or two about life in the City by the Bay, introducing her to her first earthquake, some clichéd sexy gay neighbors, and her first Folsom Street Fair where they run into a gay friend of Tara's and his naked boyfriend on a leash.
While the series is, based on the first five episodes, a mildly cute (and heterosexual-female) perspective on San Francisco and its foibles with some decent production values, it is, kind of like Looking, a distinctly outsider's perspective, making something precious and kooky out of things that people who've lived here more than two years take for granted. That could be fun for people who are new to the city, if the references weren't so banal and if the characters were smart, funny, or interesting in any new way. Coco goes the furthest in being a broad portrayal of a certain kind of bi-curious, Burning Man-attending, have-sex-in-the-supply-closet-at-lunch sort of libertine S.F. lady. But, eh... the potential for delight in a new web comedy about S.F. was quickly diminished here, with the Folsom scene being a slight exception. There's so far a lot of missed opportunity to mock sky-high rents, parking woes, tech culture, the tech industry backlash, you name it. Not Looking would have been a better model.
And is getting drunk together while putting together an earthquake kit, while moving in, while doing whatever supposed to be funny in and of itself? I get it. San Franciscans drink. A lot. And sometimes they do drugs (as they do in Episode 6, which is here on Vimeo). I'm still waiting for something really funny to happen.
You can watch all 12 episodes of SanFranLand at a launch party tonight at Monarch at 7 p.m., which also served as a shooting location for the series. The trailer for the full series is below, and more episodes must be on their way shortly...including the one where Bobbi goes to the Pillow Fight, and the one where Bobbi throws her engagement ring in the Bay.