Recurring Cast: Mallory Larson, Elena Weinberg, Derek Babb
#ATown is an independent mini-series by Turtle Dove films and you can watch it right now here.
Layla is a striving stand-up comedian, hanging around local comedy clubs in Austin, living off the applause of her one fan/stalker. Melanie is an out-of-town city girl, moving into a flat with the aptly-named Sex God and trying to acclimatise to Texas, which is miles from her comfort zone. After a chance meeting, Layla and Melanie end up meeting and become firm friends. Layla tries to show Melanie the ropes of surviving Austin, while Melanie helps Layla evolve into the comedian she longs to be. #ATown is proud to be two things: one, a comedy showing off the wacky, yet loveable city of Austin and two, a comedy written by women, performed by women and celebrating women. That isn’t to say this is an anti-men feminist ten episodes. Far from it, the male audiences getting just as many laughs as the girl side of the fan base. #ATown just gives Mallory Larson and Elena Weinberg, who also write the jokes, the chance to spread their wings and convey the jokes they want to get across, definitely putting a name for themselves in the web series market.
It is their natural charisma that gives #ATown a lot of its power. Web series suffer from having a limited time to appeal to an audience, so it helps that the second we tune into this show, we are instantly enjoying spending time with these two friends. Elena and Mallory are the kind of people you want to be spending the day with, as their first few lines of dialogue pull you right back into the fun you were having last episode. Elena has the oddball quirkiness that just suits this kind of comedy perfectly, coming out with lines that would only work for a handful of actresses. How many people in the acting business could pull off a line like ‘steam-pockets’? Mallory is just as fun, really diving into the ‘fish-out-of-water’ city girl. She jumps from the girl who has that pearl of wisdom that really saves the day to suddenly being wrapped up in her neat blend of awkward vanity. Her chemistry with Derek Babb’s Sex God is always fun to watch on-screen, right from that first cringe-worthy downing of a Lone Star can (drinking game: drink whenever a Lone Star logo pops up on-screen). The two leading actresses definitely have a lot to offer and we look forward to, not only a second season of this show, but other projects that they could be working on in the future.
If I was to offer constructive criticism, I would say that sometimes floating along on charisma doesn’t always work. Again, this is a common downfall to the web-series format, but #ATown is lacking on a few, decent punch-lines. Sure, the comedy we get is good, but you want a few sucker punches thrown into the mix to send you reeling with laughter, rather than chuckling along with the characters. A mid-season episode where the girls are stranded on a canoe would have been the perfect opportunity for some slapstick comedy. This problem hurts the finale, which could have done with upping the stakes a little more, rather than just doing the routine ‘emotional conclusion’ coupled with a few jokes for old time’s sake. The only other flaw is sometimes #ATown is guilty of drifting. Again, most of the time this isn’t a problem, as we are happy to spend an episode laughing along with the characters, but when the story begins wrapping itself up, it would have been nice if there was a stronger sense of direction. Again, the finale needed that little bit more oomph. Hopefully, Season Two will tick these boxes however, coming back with a slightly stronger game plan. #ATown is great as it is, but, once it picks up momentum, I reckon the girls will come back, stronger than ever.
Final Verdict: The mini-episode format is a tricky one to get right, but #ATown remains amusing, addictive and a great introduction to two new internet comedians.