Word on Webseries
Resident Advisors: Juvenile, Offensive, and Not Advised
Jamie Chung had a brief but memorable role as Mulan on ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Unfortunately her storyline seemingly disappeared into a portal once Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis got the rights to a new property. So I was pleasantly surprised to see her pop up in an advertisement for a new college-themed Hulu series, Resident Advisors. After watching the first three episodes of said show, my excitement has now diminished. Because while the college world has been explored in many shows, some good (Felicity, A Different World), some bad (Saved By the Bell: The College Years), this has to be the worst foray into the trope. Resident Advisors is basically guttertrash, sad to say, full of stereotypical characters.
The first episode introduces us to perfectionist Jamie Chung’s character, Olivia, who is tasked by an uptight Dean (aren’t they all?) to make sure her dorm is run ship-shape. She’s basically the Rachel Berry of the show. But there’s a problem, in the form of a 30-something man boy named Douglas. He’s inappropriate, and on his “fifth master’s degree.” Olivia’s first task from the Dean is to get rid of him, because he’s bad for the school and dorm’s image. Only the show clearly casts Olivia as the shrew who just doesn’t understand Douglas! Because then he “saves the day” by intervening on behalf of a male student named Leslie who was mistakenly placed with a female student. His solution? He’s convinced Leslie to fake gender dysphoria, so now he can stay in the dorm room with the girl and he’ll also be able to “shower with women!” Our hero also decides to spy on an androgynous character played by Alexander Eugene Newell, who was Unique on Glee. If you ever watched him on The Glee Project, you will know he’s a talented actor and singer. However, what was his function on this show? He was to go into the bathroom while Douglas goes to see what gender he is, biologically. What a waste.
What else can you expect from Resident Advisors? Menstruation references. Jokes about being homeschooled. Olivia giving herself a breast exam. I wish I were kidding. Aside from Douglas being naked, most of the crude or disgusting plotlines happen to women. It’s a woman who steps in dog excrement, and who gets to utter the phrase “I’m the place where boners go to die.” It’s a woman who also passes gas repeatedly, and it’s the woman who gets to be a clingy desperate girlfriend or falls onto her genitals. There’s also an RA that has no respect for personal space, gives residents random pills, and gropes every woman he comes in contact with.
Resident Advisors feels like one of those terrible 90’s-2000’s movies that were set in college, and were meant for a few scenes of gross-out. Hulu has a show about mascots called Behind the Mask that kept me clicking through episodes, but they also felt like this was a worthy pickup for some reason. What’s the biggest shame of Residents Advisors? The fact that it comes from producers of the smart comedy Pitch Perfect, and actress Elizabeth Banks.
I know comedy can be edgy and approach more serious topics, and do it in way that subverts the usual narrative by giving power to the person that’s usually the butt of the joke. This show isn’t that and that’s a shame for its cast and viewers.