TV just doesn't get internet culture. Case in point: 'Bye Felicia'
[. . . ] That sound you just heard was the entire Internetz facepalming in unison. Why? Because Bye Felicia is now a TV show, coming soon (but likely not for long) to a small screen near you.
For those of you just joining us here on the Internet (welcome, by the way!) “Bye Felicia” is a line from the 1995 Ice Cube/Chris Tucker flick Friday (an underrated gem), popularized on the Internet as a way of dismissing someone. The phrase has spawned countless memes (as well as this clever Instagram account, Bye Felipe, which calls out sexist/misogynistic/aggressive/all-around awful dudes on various online dating sites.)
The reason for said facepalm heard ‘round the world wide web is that, aside from the VH1 show’s questionable premise, which actually has little to do with the origins of the popular meme — “Atlanta-based life coaches Deborah Hawkes and Missy Young . . . set out to help white girls across the Los Angeles area” — there’s a lot working against this show (which debuts Dec. 9).
Historically (a term we’re using here to mean “in the last handful of years in which the Internet has become a cultural juggernaut/vacuum that both creates and destroys all that is deemed worthy and relevant in our culture, in a cyclical pattern roughly equivalent to the life span of a fruit fly),” television has not been great at jumping on the Internet bandwagon.
For whatever reason, a medium that offers many rich, layered and, dare we say, important artifacts to the cultural zeitgeist, too often completely fails when it comes to catching up to the currency of the Internet.
Take ABC’s Selfie, for example. A silly show built upon a sillier term (one we wouldn’t mind seeing Time magazine erase from our collective dictionaries), it yet had real potential to cash in on the craze. It didn’t. ABC yanked the show, which actually boasted some decent talent, after just eight episodes, testament to the fact that, when it comes to integrating Internet culture into more traditional forms of entertainment, we’re just not quite there yet.
See also: CBS’s short-lived $#*! My Dad Says, based upon Justin Halpern’s popular Twitter account of the same name, and replaced mid-season after generating fairly dismal ratings.
Still, some shows have gotten it right. Gossip Girl was ahead of its time, its anonymous title blogger/tipster utilizing social media to play out their devious Page 6-like exploits. That relative authenticity resonated with today’s teens (and overgrown “teens”) who are more comfortable interacting via a message board than through face-to-face conversation.
The problem, perhaps, is that the people producing today’s television are largely still people who are out-of-touch with the kids today and their Internet whoozywhatsits. A hashtag, for many adults who didn’t have a Twitter handle before they had a learner’s permit, is still just the pound symbol on their landline phone.
Perhaps, then, when the Gossip Girls of today are the ones running the television programming of tomorrow, TV will catch up to the Internet. These questions and more, now trending. Until then, however, byeee Felicia!