STREAMING REVIEWS: Social (media) studies

Published June 26, 2022, 11:15 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

A scene from ‘My Fake Boyfriend’

Two new drops utilize social media as very strong elements of the narrative; but they’re used in very different ways. One is a gay comedy, while the other, a Limited Series, is a dark, psychological portrait. 

My Fake Boyfriend (Amazon Prime) – Here’s a queer comedy that deftly takes today’s preoccupation with social media and deepfakes, while blending it with Old School rom-com beats. While there’s no earth-shaking or trenchant social commentary being created here, you’ll have to hand it to the producers, Director and cast for coming up with a pleasing, and entertaining, film. Andrew is an extra on a TV series and he’s in what he thinks, is a monogamous relationship with the lead star. Of course, that’s quite far from the truth, and so his straight couple besties hatch a plan to create a fictitious boyfriend; and when it works far too well, we’re treated to a gay adventure that smartly mixes technology, social media and the gay world.

Set in Manhattan and in the world of Entertainment, there are inside jokes aplenty, and a very New York feel to how things play out. I presume the film reached Amazon Prime programming as part of a drive to have more gender-inclusive and LGBTQ representative material on the platform; and I appreciate how the plot revolves around everyday situations and lifestyle choices, and that our lead just happens to be gay. Of late, too many of the material of this genre tend to overemphasize, and overplay, the gay card; when it’s good to balance this out with material that’s more matter of fact, and in this particular case, nicely settled within the comedy genre. Like I said, it won’t change your life or perceptions, but it charms and the cast works well together.

Chloe (Amazon Prime) – If you followed such shows as Inventing Anna and The Tinder Swindler, then you’ll appreciate how this BBC series attempts to go deeper into the obsession so many have with social media, and how they’ll follow the feeds of particular individuals, and often wish they could do even more. When we first meet Becky, she’s lying in bed, and just scrolling through her phone, constantly going back to the posts of a Chloe. Ginger-haired, Chloe is a young socialite, and it’s pretty obvious that Chloe abs her charmed life fascinate Becky. It’s when the feeds seem to point to the fact that Chloe has suddenly passed away, that Becky’s obsession takes a sudden left turn and leads her down a dark road.

Befriending the acquaintances and associates of the recently deceased Chloe, Becky begins to insinuate herself into the lives of these people, and even when it means spending money that she doesn’t have, it would seem there’s no stopping Becky from inserting herself into Chloe’s shoes. This leads to rather bizarre and uncomfortable incidents and situations, plus there’s a mystery element created as hints are made that Chloe’s death is less than kosher. Chloe is a limited series and you have to be warned that it’s the kind of series that ends on an open note, with no true and definitive resolution. Some hate that kind of narrative, so best to be forewarned as it can be frustrating – especially in the case of a series and the amount of time invested in watching. Well-made, from a dramatic, psychological portrait perspective.