Sobe: Role Models (2015) – Paul Busetti

 

If you loved HBO’s “Entourage” but wish it was even less intellectual, more misogynistic, and had production values that rivaled “Birdemic”,  the webseries “Sobe: Role Models” has arrived to fill the void in your life.

The series follows Eva (Ainara Landon), an aspiring model new to Miami’s South Beach, as she navigates the sex, drugs, and bizarre characters that populate the modeling world. Her cousin Christian (Michael Raif Brizzolara) seems to be a high powered lawyer but has to share a small apartment with his womanizing friend. Also along for the ride is a sugar daddy, a rapper, and a handful of other models eager to dish out career advice to Eva.

I am flummoxed by creator/writer/director/actor Russell Duncan’s effort. “Sobe: Role Models” is a cacophony of non sequiturs, bad improv, and confusion. It exists somewhere in between a James Joyce novel and “The Room”. One episode is just a commercial for a swimwear line that gave money to the production (complete with the company website on the bottom of the screen in case it was all too subtle) and another episode is padded by a music video (The episodes are mercifully only about 7 minutes long). The official website claims “Sobe” is a comedy/drama. The comedy must refer to recycled sitcom jokes from 1993 or perhaps the scene where a character inexplicitly masturbates in a taxi. The drama rears its head in the final episode in which one of the models deals with a pregnancy scare. That one could also be filed under “suspense” because like virtually every subplot that peppers the 8 episodes that make up the first season, it goes unanswered. It seems we’ll just have to wait until season 2 to find out. Luckily, the website (which is infinitely more polished than the actual show) offers the ability for fans to help fund future episodes.

Besides being tonally bewildering, “Sobe” is riddled with production problems. Jarring editing techniques fail to hide poor performances, egregiously noticeable ADR distracts rather than fixes location audio issues, and even filmmaking basics like focus and lighting are a constant battle. In a scene set at what is meant to be an upscale pool party, vodka cranberry cocktails look more like cherry Dimetapp and are served sans ice. I’m aware that this is a low budget production, but many of these issues didn’t need money to be fixed. Just a bit more attention to detail and craft. While it shares plenty with Tommy Wiseau’s aforementioned magnum opus it’s actually much closer to his claustrophobic follow up webseries “The Neighbors”, complete with murkily affiliated and scantily clad characters.

The most frustrating thing about “Sobe” and other webseries that fall short is that they don’t take advantage of the looser format which is meant to open up possibilities and give content creators freedom. Instead we’re given a premise and broad characters reminiscent of a forgettable sitcom. There are some very attractive and energetic performers and I have no doubt they all had a good time making the show. If this had arrived 10 years ago, some of the mistakes could be forgiven. Unfortunately, it’s so crowded online now that there just isn’t room for something this rough.

From the website I offer the following quote.“A refreshing approach to a new web series that mixes Sex and the City & Entourage. A must see to heat up your summer!”
–Jamie W.

To most sane people, that combination would sound as enticing as Zima mixed with gasoline. Also, never a good sign when your single review quote can’t be attributed to a full name.

Season 1 is available online @ http://www.soberolemodels.com