By Ryan McPherson
I’m going to start off by giving you, the reader, a little piece of advice. This might not work everywhere, but it definitely works with us. If you are an independent filmmaker looking to get your project reviewed, give it an original name. We get a lot of submissions and inquiries and with a very small team, we unfortunately can’t get to everything. If your title is interesting, your odds of our eyes finding it go up drastically. This isn’t always true, but it’s exactly what happened with the web series, Wacko Smacko.
I was going through Twitter one night (like most nights), and received a message from Mary Neely, the creator and creative force behind the show, asking me to give it a viewing. It’s safe to say with a name like ‘Wacko Smacko’, curiosity got the best of me. I got whacked and smacked into the rabbit hole. An hour and a half later I had watched the entire series, and had it not been late at night, would’ve hit play again.
Now, after multiple viewings, I think I have my thoughts collected and can state with some form of coherency, just how much I enjoyed this web series; I really enjoyed this series.
There’s really no point in discussing the show without discussing Neely first. This isn’t your standard, ensemble style sitcom; Neely carries this show both figuratively and literally. This isn’t to say the supporting cast isn’t talented, more so to say the engine is only running at full speed because Neely has the keys to the car. There are scenes, especially later in the series, devoted to the other characters, but there is little here not revolving around Neely’s character Sofia. Without Neely’s natural ability to be a dominating force on the screen, Wacko Smacko could have faded into obscurity, but she makes that impossible. She’s funny but off-putting, sincere but sarcastic, heartless but sensitive, and confident but vulnerable. She has the ability to be both funny and likable, while being completely cringe-worthy at the same time. To try to explain Sofia is difficult and perhaps the greatest compliment Neely deserves for her exceptional writing and character development. She’s without a doubt going to remind you of Aubrey Plaza and Krysten Ritter, with splashes of Tina Fey and the spirit of mumblecore.
As for the series itself, you probably aren’t going to find much that you won’t recognize. Neely plays a struggling actress dealing with parents who are less than supportive, friends who are entangled in less than ideal situations, and an ongoing penchant for ill-advised relationships. It follows a very typical formula seen in many of its predecessors and contemporaries. What works is the biting comedy compressed into the approximate ten minute run time of each episode. Not allowing each segment to become over-saturated with tired plot devices, mixed with Neely’s presence makes this one of the better web series today. This is a series more than worthy of replacing some lesser products on network television today and more than worthy of your time.
To watch the first season of Wacko Smacko, visit their website.