Author Topic: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal  (Read 2514 times)

FerriswheelBueller

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Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« on: August 04, 2019, 06:16:17 AM »
I’ve seen a few people mention they don’t like Nathan Barley. What’s all that about? It’s great.

It lacks some of satirical punch of the Morris classics, but for urban bleakness it is ahead of its time.

I reckon it is great, and under-appreciated and in need of a CaB reappraisal (if indeed the general opinion is that it wasn’t up to much).

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2019, 06:41:03 AM »
it was well-weapon.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2019, 06:51:23 AM »
it was well-weapon.

Keep it foolish. Believe.

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2019, 07:26:57 AM »
I thought it had some clever ideas, some great music and was ahead of its time in terms of the hipster brigade embracing the self-parody it had descending into.  It was also quite inconsistent, poorly directed, and not particularly funny. The lack of likeable or compelling characters didn't make me want to see a second series.
I haven't seen it since broadcast, apart from a snippet of Nathan's sex rap while I was channel hopping (ugh).

Mister Six

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2019, 01:42:11 PM »
I thought it had some clever ideas, some great music and was ahead of its time in terms of the hipster brigade embracing the self-parody it had descending into.

Even more ahead of its time than that - hipsters were hardly (if at all) seen outside of the Shoreditch new media scene. Remember, this was 14 years ago, when "metrosexual" was the in-vogue buzzword and that lumberjack beard thing was about three or four years out from even reaching its infancy.

Part of the promotion for the show had Morris and Brooker assuring interviewers that they had driven around other parts of London/the UK spotting Nathan Barley types, which rang false for many on here at the time.

I've not gone back to it since, so it might be much better than I remember, but it really was prescient in terms of the hipster explosion (if more by chance than design).

BlodwynPig

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2019, 01:44:43 PM »
Did anyone else have the Nathan Barley Wasp app?

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2019, 04:38:06 PM »
Nathan Barely is great and it has only gotten better and more prescient over time.

I think the reaction probably has to do with the fact that Chris Morris was coming off an all-time great run of comedy genius and his subsequent work could only be a step down.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2019, 05:36:05 PM »
I think the reaction probably has to do with the fact that Chris Morris was coming off an all-time great run of comedy genius and his subsequent work could only be a step down.

Not to mention a heaping dollop of generational comedy contempt - how dare he consort with the likes of Brooker, Ayoade, the Boosh etc. When in fact all of the above were used rather well - Morris' and Brooker's sensibilities meshed nicely, particularly when it came to the absurd-but-plausible tech, they used Ayoade and Fielding exactly as much as they needed to be used, and I think Barratt was just great. Tad lumpy in spots, and maybe it's hard for even skillful satirists to deep-dive into the style-over-substance wading pool without cracking their skulls a bit, but overall, it really holds up. Just wish there was a bit more Doug Rocket and a lot more Jonatton Yeah?  I could watch an uninterrupted half an hour of just this sort of business: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Q3PNNxNmk

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2019, 08:25:51 PM »
my office at the time was full of shoreditch twats, with the fin hairdo (some of the blokes too), & there was briefly a fad for riding around the office on one of those folding aluminium scooters with tiny wheels that you still see now, only these days they seem to have motors. most of these fools would quote great chunks of the show, seemingly unaware that it was about them. this would be at the time of the show's first airing.
I found the series online... it wasn't hard.... & thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. nick burns did a good turn in "absolute power", the stephen fry thing about a PR company, & it was nice to see an early turn by ayoade as 'ned smank'- what a great name.

my boss used to call them "dot-communists", which was an epithet he'd heard sumner redstone (our big boss) use in a speech cautioning against being too free & easy with content distribution over this new web 2.0 thing. "content is king" was redstone's other thing. so yeah, even in the context of a giant US multinational media corporation, there were these microcosms of pre-hipster twattery springing up. people whose ipod playlists were full of the hives & electric-6. one of these humps went on to co-found skype.

I feel sick just thinking about it, tbh.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2019, 09:32:51 PM »
Couldn't get past the scissors/cat head moment, personally. It was a shit 'joke', and as a cat lover, uncomfortable.

But mainly it was just shit, by two people much better than that.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2019, 09:37:12 PM »
I’ve seen a few people mention they don’t like Nathan Barley. What’s all that about? It’s great.

It lacks some of satirical punch of the Morris classics, but for urban bleakness it is ahead of its time.

I reckon it is great, and under-appreciated and in need of a CaB reappraisal (if indeed the general opinion is that it wasn’t up to much).

I like Nathan Barley and always have. Pissing in the wind convincing the CaB old guard though. Save yer breath for coolin' yer porridge.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2019, 10:14:59 PM »
The best Morris wan't satirical, as he said himself. Satire is always an admission of defeat (can't remember the phrase he used himself), and plays to the audience too much.

Nathan Barley was satire, and that was one of the problems with it.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2019, 10:18:20 PM »
my office at the time was full of shoreditch twats, with the fin hairdo (some of the blokes too), & there was briefly a fad for riding around the office on one of those folding aluminium scooters with tiny wheels that you still see now, only these days they seem to have motors. most of these fools would quote great chunks of the show, seemingly unaware that it was about them. this would be at the time of the show's first airing.
I found the series online... it wasn't hard.... & thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. nick burns did a good turn in "absolute power", the stephen fry thing about a PR company, & it was nice to see an early turn by ayoade as 'ned smank'- what a great name.

my boss used to call them "dot-communists", which was an epithet he'd heard sumner redstone (our big boss) use in a speech cautioning against being too free & easy with content distribution over this new web 2.0 thing. "content is king" was redstone's other thing. so yeah, even in the context of a giant US multinational media corporation, there were these microcosms of pre-hipster twattery springing up. people whose ipod playlists were full of the hives & electric-6. one of these humps went on to co-found skype.

I feel sick just thinking about it, tbh.

Once more, in English, please

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2019, 10:20:55 PM »
Once more, in English, please

touché

BlodwynPig

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2019, 10:24:52 PM »
touché

Yeh, i am a bit touchy, whatabboutit!!

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2019, 10:27:44 PM »
From the other thread:

It was very ordinary and conventional I thought.

Really? How so? I mean, technically it was in a one-camera sitcom format, but, irrespective of its presumed qualities or lack thereof, it had a look and feel that I can't compare to anything else (apart from certain techniques similar to those from Jam and My Wrongs, but applied to different ends).


BlodwynPig

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2019, 10:31:09 PM »
Dont mind him, he’s a My Family fan

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2019, 11:21:44 PM »
From the other thread:

Really? How so? I mean, technically it was in a one-camera sitcom format, but, irrespective of its presumed qualities or lack thereof, it had a look and feel that I can't compare to anything else (apart from certain techniques similar to those from Jam and My Wrongs, but applied to different ends).

I'm at a slight disadvantage in answering as I'm really not much of a comedy fan in general, and it's 14 years since I saw the thing, but it its conventionality mostly centres around it being character-based satire, which was a pretty much dead form. Every so often it hinted at going somewhere much stranger, but then copped out.

Morris didn't even like satire as a form, so I'm not sure why he tried it. Presumably if you knew the sort of person and culture he was portraying you could laugh at it on the basis of familiarity which would allow you to feel superior, which is a pretty sycophantic gesture on Morris' part. Also Barley was obviously supposed to be sort-of likable as well as a twerp, but instead of using that to make the viewer feel uncomfortable about liking him it just generated a blandness about him.

Nearly every episode left me with a feeling of 'so what' at the end, like something completely inconsequential has just been played out that didn't stir much in the way of thoughts, much less make me laugh. And things like <character says something mildly outrageous> <cut to reaction shot from characterless boring sensible female character just to make sure we know how silly the thing was> were just hackneyed. The sensible empty female character whose essential function is to set off the silliness of the silly male character who at least does have some character is a dull clichéd sexist motif anyway. cf that Lee Mack thing and Men Behaving Badly.

Not sure how it had a different look, I don't remember that.

chveik

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2019, 11:25:03 PM »
only watched the pilot, and I had no clue what it was supposed to satirize, but if the cab experts say so, I'll try again.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2019, 11:29:02 PM »
I think probably only a few thousand people in the world knew, or thought they knew, what it was supposed to satirise, which was another irritating thing about it.

Shaky

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2019, 01:37:19 AM »
As mentioned, the killer for the show was how unfunny it was. I mean, if all else failed it should've got that bit right. But Nathan saying, "Well Jackson" etc was just weak from the off. Whole "plots" were crap as well and had very poor payoffs - Dan wanking off the builder, the Bonobo stuff, Preacherman. Really came across as half-thought out. Morris's direction was sloppy too and frequently flattened what gags there were. There is definitely interesting stuff here and there but it's an absolute mess overall.

I recall watching the final episode and there was a point were Dan was remembering interactions from the previous eps and working himself into a rage. Seemed like the show was going to pull it all together and do something interesting but instead we got some silly damp squib of a thing.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2019, 07:39:13 AM »
You’re all snobby bastards.

What i liked was the anti-hero Dan’s constant struggle against the tide of facile, preening goons (now known as hipsters), ultimately succumbing to, in turn, rage, psychosis, acceptance and immersion. A real tragedy. Better than Shakespeare

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2019, 07:48:13 AM »
I think probably only a few thousand people in the world knew, or thought they knew, what it was supposed to satirise, which was another irritating thing about it.
Yes journalists and fringe/alt media fans loved it because it satirized early Vice etc but the jokes were just too narrow for the public.

NoSleep

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2019, 07:49:45 AM »
I recall watching the final episode and there was a point were Dan was remembering interactions from the previous eps and working himself into a rage. Seemed like the show was going to pull it all together and do something interesting but instead we got some silly damp squib of a thing.

Nearest thing to everything pulling together was the pilot. Some of the gags in that were stretched to entire episodes for the series.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2019, 08:02:27 AM »
You’re all snobby bastards.

What i liked was the anti-hero Dan’s constant struggle against the tide of facile, preening goons (now known as hipsters), ultimately succumbing to, in turn, rage, psychosis, acceptance and immersion. A real tragedy. Better than Shakespeare

Also his artistic integrity being constantly strained and tested by the ever present threat of poverty. And the fact that to make any money at all he has to either suffer the humiliation of borrowing from his sister or writing articles pretending he lkes stuff he actually hates.

"And now I'm vulnerable, and now I'm not vulnerable".

BlodwynPig

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2019, 09:00:02 AM »
Yes journalists and fringe/alt media fans loved it because it satirized early Vice etc but the jokes were just too narrow for the public.

Fuck the public...the public only wanted Every Decreasing Circles and then My Hero.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2019, 09:17:28 AM »
Nearest thing to everything pulling together was the pilot. Some of the gags in that were stretched to entire episodes for the series.

I always felt like Morris did the pilot as a way of stretching his directing muscles (it being a step up in size from My Wrongs), and then when it got the go-ahead as a series Brooker stepped up to help fill in the gaps.

Put another way, the pilot is great, the series is hit-and-miss.

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2019, 09:23:46 AM »
Not watched it for a very, very long time but I stand-by by my feeling that they should have worked out six decent plot lines for the episodes before filming it. It felt like it was really, really struggling to fill the running time at points.

The hipster thing wasn't so alienating for me because I lived very near to that area at the time, but it is indeed crazy how that whole look has basically engulfed almost everyone aged below forty now.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2019, 09:43:59 AM »
I think it was a bit too early. Probably should've parodied BuzzFeed, Gawker, NewsCorp Vice etc. The problem is that it was a bit tame iirc I mean no character in Nathan Barley fell into depravity as much as real life wife beating Jim Goad or white supremacist Gavin McInnes.

NoSleep

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2019, 10:12:27 AM »
I don't think that was the point; the people in NB are mostly harmless (as well as being vacuous). Dan's loathing is entirely out of proportion to its object.