When Snapchat, an app best known for selfies and sexting, first announced that it would be investing in scripted content, many critics laughed. Unfortunately they laughed a lot less when they saw the premiere of Literally Can’t Even, the scripted comedy series that was meant to be Snapchat’s first original series. Despite mostly negative response from critics, the show will return to Snapchat for a second season later this year.
The renewal comes as something of a surprise given the negative response of most critics, myself included, to the show’s first season. Series co-creators Sasha Spielberg and Emily Goldwyn starred in a series of five minute episodes details their comic misadventures as 20-somethings in Los Angeles. The show, which was billed-as Broad City for the Snapchat set, mostly failed to live up to its lofty comedic ambitions.
Content aside, the show suffered from a structural problem that’s baked in to Snapchat’s primary gimmick. All content on the app disappears after a set amount of time. While that can be fun for a series of selfies or even a Snapchat story, it doesn’t provide much advantage to a scripted series. Episodes vanish permanently after 24 hours, making the show difficult to keep up with and impossible to catch up on. Fans have to watch the episode the day it’s released. That’s a tough sell in the age of binge watching and time shifted DVR viewing, especially for millennials who are used to having more control over when they watch.
Snapchat’s commitment to the show suggests that it’s still exploring new ways to become a channel for more traditional types of media. It’s also possible that Literally Can’t Even performes better with viewers than it did with critics. Snapchat’s ephemeral natural and lack of view statistics make it difficult to say. Others have suggested that she show’s renewal might have more to do with its creators’ personal pedigree rather than their comedic chops. Spielberg and Goldwyn are both the children of Hollywood royalty (director Stephen and producer John respectively). While it would be unkind to suggest any sort of preferential treatment at work, Snapchat certainly wouldn’t be the first new media company anxious to curry favor with mainstream Hollywood power players.
Whether thanks to the power of nepotism or legitimate fan demand, Literally Can’t Even will return with new episodes later this year through Snapchat’s discover feature. In the meantime, if you’re looking to catch up on the show, Snapchat is running a marathon of the first season this Saturday April 25th.
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