all white kit

LIW Review: Lovely Little Losers

Much as I love NMTD as my favorite adaptation of my favorite Shakespeare play, LBD for introducing me to the genre and the genre to the world, and so many other literary-inspired webseries for so many reasons, Lovely Little Losers will always be my favorite. 

The premise is simple: Benedick, Balthazar, and Pedro (now going by Peter) from Nothing Much To Do are going to university in Wellington and living in a flat together with the lovely and awkward Freddie Kingston. Freddie and Ben decide to impose some order on the flat with a set of absurd flat rules that everyone has to follow, including a curfew, vegetarianism (and vegan Fridays), Ben getting to film everything, imposed flat bonding in the form of challenges, and the worst rule of all, no romantic relationships, aka no shenanigans. 

The series is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, but in reality there are only about five episodes that have anything to do with the plot of the original play. Apart from those moments, the inspiration mostly just creates the premise and the names of certain characters.

Plot overview:

Freddie, Benedick, Peter, and Balthazar sign a bunch of ridiculous flat rules that at first seem like a good idea and quickly spiral out of control. Then Beatrice and Meg decide to road trip to Wellington, where, due to The Rules, they end of sleeping in a tent in the back garden along with Kit, another friend of the flat. It’s hard to say more about the actual plot without spoilers, since it’s barely revealed what’s been going on until almost the end (starting around “SARDINES” and going until “FEATHERS”), so I’ll move on to my other categories.

Format:

All actual episodes are posted on the Lovely Little Losers YouTube channel, with Ben as the main (unreliable) narrator, Meg as secondary (mostly reliable) narrator, and other characters (such as Beatrice and Peter) occasionally filming/uploading videos as well. Fifteen videos are devoted to “Balth in a Bath,” which was all filmed on the same day in February but is uploaded sporadically throughout the year. There are also between fourteen and seventeen song videos, depending on how you define “song” (more on that later). There are also a few extras on other YouTube channels that, while not technically part of the story, help illuminate things considerably (the channel I’m referring to here is Zoos Job, though there are also two videos on the Nothing Much To Do channel).

How to watch LoLiLo:

This is ordinarily not one of my categories, but in this case it is very necessary. You MUST read the video descriptions, and also check the comments section, to have ANY idea what’s really going on here, and even then most of it’s going to be subtext. You can watch the series either in the order it was intended to be watched in or in chronological order (which ruins a little of the mystery but averts a Zoos Job marathon later on. Links to both playlists are below). Keep in mind that Benedick is the narrator of nearly the whole thing, and that he is editing the content to fit his own agenda – the one @beatriceeagle calls “Project Birdy-Fingers.” This means that two-thirds of the love stories in LoLiLo are almost entirely hidden from the viewers and once again need to be read through subtext. 

Realism:

Off the charts dedicated. This series has a much more experimental style than NMTD – several episodes use more than one camera angle, nearly every episodes has multiple characters in it, and is frequently filmed over multiple days and edited into non-chronological order – but there is still always a reason for the camera to be there and always a reason, in-universe, for it to have been edited and uploaded the way it was. This dedication to realism made things that much more difficult for The Candle Wasters, but it also adds hugely to the value of the series.

Music:

As I mentioned above, many, many episodes of LLL are actually songs. The series has been referred to by many people as a “secret musical” because of this. 11 songs are almost entirely character development. “A Merry Note” was written by Shakespeare and was mostly The Candle Wasters being clever and making us think our ship had sailed. “Heaven in Her Lips” is a cute love song. “Stay” is secretly plot, though the lyrics also assist in understanding “one foot on sea one on shore one in the boiling hot lava,” which is the real first episode of LoLiLo. Then we get to the question of whether certain other videos are songs. “Berry Nice,” while a Balth in a Bath episode, is clearly a song. But what about “Beatrice and Ballads,” which is essentially the reprise of “Beatrice, You’re Vivacious”? What about “A Sonnet,” which, although not a song, is the inverse of “An Ode” and should therefore be included for the sake of symmetry? Of course, the numbers don’t matter, because the songs are amazing. The songs themselves were mainly written by Reuben Hudson, Elsie Bollinger, and Maude Morris, with some help from other writers, and are performed mostly by Reuben Hudson and Mouce Young, with help from most of the rest of the cast.

Representation/diversity:

Very strong. Several characters are not white at all (Kit and Jaquie), and race just generally is a non-issue. LGBT representation is also great, especially for a pre-2016 webseries: Peter is now openly bisexual, Balthazar actually uses the word “gay” to describe himself, Paige and Chelsey are a lesbian couple who have basically the only functional relationship in the whole series, and the sexuality of several other characters (Kit, Freddie, Costa, Vegan Fred), is never defined, though I headcanon them all as bi. Though there are no disabled characters, there are extensive explorations of mental health issues, though as usual for The Candle Wasters, this is largely in subtext. Also, people actually talk about money in this and have realistic issues with money, which is a nice change from every other webseries I’ve seen.

Film quality:

Fantabulous, especially since The Candle Wasters had an actual budget for this series.  As mentioned before, there are even episodes shot with multiple cameras THAT ACTUALLY WORK. Yay for realism and quality combined is all I can say.

My three favorite things about Lovely Little Losers:

1) My two favorite episodes, “RUSSIANFUDGE” and “ACCOSTED”

2) Balth in a Bath, because Balth in a Bath is perfect and innocent and lovely and actually includes a lot of exposition and character/relationship development that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

3) The fact that I keep getting more out of it on every rewatch – and I have now seen this thing in full ten times, though it’s been more like twenty for some episodes (”TEA,” “RUSSIANFUDGE”), and I have no idea how many times I’ve watched/listened to some of the songs.

Difficult things about Lovely Little Losers:

On first viewing it can be almost impossible to understand what’s going on almost all the time, and it can be easy to skip things because the series seems largely plotless. Do not give up hope! There is indeed a plot, but you have to hunt for it. If you finish the series and still feel confused or dissatisfied, I recommend a rewatch and @beatriceeagle and @marydebenham ‘s LLL rewatch metas, which have been invaluable for many the confused/dissatisfied viewer. It can also be frustrating that certain things (like apologies) are never said on camera, but we can blame realism for that. 

All I can say is, despite its surface flaws, LoLiLo is not only my favorite webseries but also only of my favorite pieces of literature of all time. There’s so much here, in character, in content, and in theme, and I could talk about it for ages more than I already have. Although on first viewing I had no idea what to make of it, I now give LLL a solid and glowing 5/5 stars.

Cast:

Benedick Hobbes – Jake McGregor @jakeasaurus–rex

Peter Donaldson – Caleb Wells @letslipthedogsofwar 

Freddie Kingston – Bonnie Simmonds @bonniesimmonds

Balthazar Jones – Reuben Hudson @reubenhudson

Meg Winter – Jessica Stansfield

Beatrice Duke – Harriett Maire @harriettstella

Kitso Harper – Phodiso Dintwe

Paige Moth – Mouce Young

Chelsey Long – Bronwyn Ensor

Rosa Jones – Ella McLeod

Hero Duke – Pearl Kennedy

Jaquie Manders – Kalisha Wasasala

Costa McClure – Robbie Nicol (Aka White Man Behind a Desk, now part of The Candle Wasters)

John Donaldson – Geroge Maunsell

Vegan Fred Boyet – Daniel McBride (aka Sheep, Dog & Wolf)

Dogberry – David Hannah

Claudio – Matthew J. Smith

Leo Duke – Alex McDonald

Ursula – Tina Pan

Zeb – Jim Mitford-Taylor

Kelsi Forrester – Calum Gittins

Julia – Mirabai Pease

Violet – Hannah Mitford-Taylor

Maria – Hannah Geddis

Created by The Candle Wasters @thecandlewasters

More complete social media links for the cast and crew are available from people who aren’t me :) 

Running time:

Approximately ten hours. 

Time frame:

December 24, 2014-December 25, 2015

Watch it in the original order here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ4M4eic7acR3w0c4lLxWE8SnpT2WzoCJ

Or in chronological (Zoos Job) order here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZ4M4eic7acRAEqZtFwMqTz_lvB5YxKs4

Or in upload order as a slideshow here:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1tvK1vOQNA9ClJi8K061c_sxiY4pwHfxbUvj8yPd_yuE/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.p

1705: “Dear Sir, I shudder to think how much trouble these new-fangled cheques will cause, especially gathered together in bookes that could be so easily stolen by a vagabond. Oh, for a return to the days of the humble purse filled with gold coins.”

1138: “My Lord, I shudder to think of the problems that these new gold coins will unleash ‘pon us all, small, bright, shiny and easily stolen as they are….i’faith ‘twould be easier if we simply returned to bronze, such as we had in ye olden days.”

50BC: “Ave! Citizens, can we not see the danger of these Bronze coins? Is it beyond the wit and wisdom of our republic to return to the wisdom of those who came before, who bartered simple weights of metal without having to carry around these fiddly, small disks?”

933BC: “Em hotep! I have dispatched this parchment to explain how unhappy I am at this dangerous new idea of paying for things by weights of copper and bronze. This is surely a recipe for disaster. Can we not return to the simpler ways of our ancestors, bartering for goods by trading fruit, grain and other livestock and bounty of the lands?”

50,000BC: “Me Ug. Ug no happy. Ug not allowed to just kill to eat. Ug told need catch. Ug need give to Og. Og give Ug shoes. No good. Ug say old ones did better. Ug think this new way bring down wrath of sky. Plus Ug no happy with foreigners.”