Judge Gordon Sullivan thinks everyone should have imaginary friends. At least, that's what the voices tell him.
Life's a bitch. Then you invent one.
Sometimes I'm severely disappointed with technology, which seems to offer life-changing advances but too often delivers the same tired stuff in new and faster packages. For instance, so many internet videos either provide the same-old home-video antics or ape the style (on a much lower budget) of shows already available on traditional television channels. Luckily, every once in a while a web-based show comes along to demonstrate why it's not always bad to follow the lead of mainstream television. Imaginary Bitches is definitely one of those shows, providing a clever, bitchy look at single womanhood in easily digestible five minute chunks.
The show follows Eden (Eden Riegel, All My Children), a single twentysomething woman whose best friends are all in relationships. To combat the fact that she isn't getting the relationship support she needs, Eden creates her own imaginary friends in the form of Heather and Katherine (who are only visible to Eden, naturally). Everything would be great, but it turns out that Heather and Katherine are real bitches, with something nasty to say about Eden and all of her friends. When Eden's imaginary friends become common knowledge, Eden has to deal with the fallout of having such inconsiderate "friends," even as they help her sort out her love life.
Imaginary Bitches is cross between Harvey and Sex and the City, and that's the nicest thing I could say about it. The premise itself is absolutely brilliant, perfectly embodying our love-hate relationship with bitchy people (especially women). On the one hand we get to enjoy all the nasty things these girls say, but because their words only come out of the mouth of nice-girl Eden, the dislike we'd feel if they were more "real" is mitigated. It really is the best of both worlds, honesty without consequences. Combine that with the Sex and the City-style focus on a single woman, and you've got a recipe for a fun, catty look at relationships.
The show is also a very effective vehicle for the actors, especially star Eden Riegel. Although her style seems to have been heavily influenced by her work in soap operas, she's totally convincing as Eden, the woman who sees imaginary friends. She interacts with Heather and Katherine beautifully, inflecting their dialogue humorously, and making us believe that the two bitches are really there. The rest of the cast isn't quite as impressive, but their interactions with the title pair are generally well done as well. The cast is aided by the scripts, which are written perfectly to balance our desire to know what bitchy things are being said with Eden's desire to avoid hurting people's feelings by revealing too much. I can see excerpts from this show being used as audition monologues for years to come.
Shakespeare once wrote that brevity is the soul of wit, and Imaginary Bitches takes that the heart. Each episode typically runs about five minutes, and goes through one or two brief situations with Eden and her friends (both real and imaginary). This lets the characters have some brief insight into relationships, provides a platform for some good bitch-talk from Heather and Katherine, and ensures that the slightly unbelievable premise never overstays its welcome. It also means that if you're enjoying the show, you can watch the entire first season in a little more than 80 minutes.
For a web-based show that doesn't have major network support, Imaginary Bitches comes on an impressive DVD. All 13 episodes are included on a single disc, and with the brevity of the shows, compression isn't a problem. The video transfer is limited only by the source video, which looks about as good as you'd expect from a web show. That means the frame is generally a little brighter than necessary, blow-outs occur in some light, and certain fabrics and textures aren't rendered very well. However, the show is very watchable, and considering the subject matter, video quality is not of prime importance. Dialogue is though, and the stereo track keeps everything audible, if a little flat. Subtitles would have been nice to catch all the bitchy goodness, but I didn't have to strain to hear anything.
Extras are also pretty impressive. The best is a commentary with Eden, Heather, and Katherine on the first episode. Yes, it's really Eden talking to herself for the entire episode, and it's got more funny comments from the girls. There's also a commentary on the sixth episode, twelve minutes of interviews, and some amusing bloopers. All told, this is more stuff than many network shows get.
Although there's lots to admire about Imaginary Bitches, it didn't completely click with me. I'm sure part of that is that I'm not part of the show's target demographic (never having been a single woman myself). I definitely see the potential in the show, but I think it's more likely to appeal to fans of catty-flicks and shows like Sex and the City.
Imaginary Bitches is a funny show with a clever premise. Fans of all things bitchy would do well to check out this DVD.
They may be bitchy, but the Imaginary Bitches are not guilty.
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