Review: Highly Gifted “Instascam”

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Overview (Spoilers!)

A girl asks if her new fedora is cool. While Dave assures her that it is, Schnozzy dismissively calls the hat stupid. Dave grumbles that this is why Schnozzy has no friends, but Schnozzy disagrees: he has over 16,000 followers on the app “Instasnap.” Schnozzy shows Dave the manipulative and dishonest means he uses to gain followers. Dave insists that Schnozzy’s followers aren’t real friends, but lo and behold, as soon as Schnozzy is gone, Dave starts trying out his methods.

Our Take 

Okay, I’ll admit it—this episode made me laugh.

Maybe I just love villains (see: my review of this week’s Free! episode), but I enjoy Schnozzy’s over-the-top disregard for anyone else’s feelings. I laughed out loud at his grandiose assertions that he’s going to gain billions of followers, surpass PewDiePie in internet fame, become bigger than organized religion, and start selling his followers as slaves. I feel like I’ve met people who think like this, and it’s a pretty good satire of modern internet celebrities.

I also like that this episode showed us a softer, more compassionate side of Dave. It puts his insensitivity and selfishness into perspective a little: maybe Dave resorts to rude tactics in social situations because he’s desperate for friendship and real human connection. The contrast between the sensitive Dave and the power-hungry Schnozzy—who only cares about collecting admirers—works to make Dave a more believable and likeable character.

I also really like the character design of the hat girl. I like her accent (is it Australian?), and I’m so glad this show isn’t afraid to give their characters realistic physical traits, even when they don’t adhere to traditional standards of beauty. This girl has visible fat rolls (how many cartoons feature girls like that and don’t just use them as a fat joke?), but Dave is quick to compliment her appearance and build her up—he says that she looks like Britney Spears.

But don’t get your hopes up for a body-positive masterpiece: Dave’s comment is followed with a crude joke about how he’s comparing her to young Britney Spears, because it wouldn’t be a compliment to look like old Britney Spears. Like, how dare people get older. The nerve of them.

It’s also annoying that Schnozzy looks like a stereotypical, asshole, friendless nerd—a chubby body, an awkward half-moustache, braces, glasses, ill-fitting clothes. Of course, there are people who look like this who are assholes. But as I’ve said many times before, satire is at its best when it subverts viewer expectations and challenges social norms. Why not feature a character who’s a shallow asshole and beautiful? Why do we feel like villains must always be conventionally “ugly”? Even his name (oddly, it comes from the Yiddish word for “nose,” and Schnozzy’s nose is smaller than Dave’s) serves as a reminder that Schnozzy is the uncoolest of the uncool. It’s just not a very interesting character design choice.

I’m also frustrated by the ending of this episode, because I saw it coming a mile away. Dave says that Schnozzy is so pathetic and will never have real friends, and then a beat later, he’s using Schnozzy’s methods on Instasnap. Honestly, it’s just super predictable.

When it comes down to it, this episode is far from perfect—but it did make me laugh harder than any other Highly Gifted episode this season, so I’ll give it some credit for that.

  • - 5.5/10

Bodie Shanis

Bodie is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can often find him in odd costumes, either because he's at an anime convention or performing in a musical. He's currently working on his first novel.

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