Meme Boys Web Series Review: A self-aware fun ride that largely works

 The premise is simple, and creators Rajiv Rajaram-Drishya and director Arun Koushik are well aware of the uncomplicated nature of their central plot, and largely weave an unpretentious narrative.
Meme Boys Web Series Review: A self-aware fun ride that largely works
Meme Boys Web Series Review: A self-aware fun ride that largely works
Rating:(3 / 5)

What did mainstream Tamil pop culture teach us about going to college? There is a free pass when it comes to making fun of our teachers, and the more they are caricaturish, the more our liberty to take potshots at them. Between Ramki and Co acing it and Sivakarthikeyan and team giving it their best, a lot of us grew up. In SonyLIV’s latest Tamil web series, Meme Boys, the focus is on just one authority figure, Dean Narayanan (a terrific Guru Somasundaram), and how a group of boys and a girl take him down using the digital weapon of mass destruction — Memes. 

The premise is simple, and creators Rajiv Rajaram-Drishya and director Arun Koushik are well aware of the uncomplicated nature of their central plot, and largely weave an unpretentious narrative. There is a meme-making competition, and four engineering college students — Mojo (Aadhitya Bhaskar), Julie (Namritha), Power (Jayanth) and Jumbo (Siddharth) — form a team to win the grand prize of Rs 10 lakhs. Through the power of their memes they create changes in their Apoorva University and earn the wrath of their disciplinarian dean. 

With a wafer-thin plot and eight episodes, it becomes important that the makers of Meme Boys get their writing on point. For starters, they get the character arcs of their leads right. Mojo is a dreamer and a goofball. Power is an enterprising go-getter. Julie is a spunky and no-nonsense achiever. Jumbo is a scared but determined believer. And the four of them happen to be good with memes. It is interesting how the writing didn’t really allow strong friendships to be forged, or even hint at a semblance of a romance track between the leads. Not all friendships are for life, and not all of them turn into love within the span of a few weeks. This is definitely one giant leap for mankind. Also, points for representing the change of idols in the present generation of college-goers. We have Sivakarthikeyan and Rohit Sharma posters adorning the walls of these students. It shows attention to the new-gen thinking. 

Director: Arun Koushik
Cast: Guru Somasundaram, Aadhitya Bhaskar, Siddharth, Namritha
Streaming on: SonyLIV

The narrative is entirely based out of this college, and it is a very self-sufficient landscape that gives credence to even the most outlandish of premises. Take, for instance, the set-piece where the Dean shuts down the Wi-fi system in the college to weed out the Meme Boys. Setting this college in a godforsaken place with no mobile internet connectivity, this becomes enough of a plot point to push an episode or two. Similarly, every obstacle for the meme creators comes with a simple solution that doesn’t really warrant an elaborate plan. While it might seem too convenient for most of its runtime, I liked how there is that proverbial plot twist towards the end that quells some of these doubts. The dialogues are quite enjoyable too, and my group of friends and colleagues are guilty of resorting to this type of humour well into our 30s and I can't really fault these 20-year-olds for doing the same. 

However, it is not all smooth sailing for Meme Boys either. The specificity of their target audience runs the risk of alienating ones looking for different styles of comedy. It is made for the social media generation, but not the ones sharing messages like ‘If you don’t send it to ten people…’ It is for the ones who know the difference between normal memes and dank memes. It is for the ones who know the antecedents of the memes that are being shared around mindlessly, and are aware of the various groups involved in the manufacturing of such content. We recently saw in Fingertip Season 2 how trolling and memes are weaponised by the powers that be, and even in Meme Boys, such things are alluded, but we are shown that behind all this digital wizardry, it is a person who has to choose between right and wrong. It was one of the many uncannily responsible moments in Meme Boys. Yes, it is an overwhelmingly simple narrative that goes for easy laughs aided by a soundtrack by Gopal Rao. But it never forgets to address the meme creators’ social responsibility that comes with wielding such influence. 
While the leads are fairly effective, especially Siddharth and Jayanth, Aadithya’s antics don’t always hit the mark. While it is Aadithya’s role that brings in the OTT-ness to the show, and he does deliver it with aplomb, there is an overarching sense of rambling that takes away a bit of sheen from the role. Julie’s character begins with a sense of individuality, but it is disappointing that her strong voice gets drowned down among the boys. Guru Somasundaram has a ball as the Dean and brings in a sense of gravitas to a predominantly fresh cast that feeds off the energy of this powerhouse. Meme Boys does have a repository of strong supporting roles that anchor the series whenever it gets too indulgent. There is Badava Gopi’s Kathiresan, Latha Sathyamurthy’s warden Sivagami, and Devadarshini’s Nandini, who are so much fun as recurring characters in the series that makes us root for more of them in Season 2 that is hinted at the end. 
Many web series in Tamil often aim for the stars only to find themselves down on the sidewalks. However, the makers of Meme Boys don’t have such lofty ambitions. It is interesting to see that barring a line or two about certain political developments in the State, the memes in Meme Boys and the references are largely crowd-pleasing and inoffensive. It knows its target audience and caters to them without missing a beat. We see references to popular meme templates, and it helps that the conceptualised meme in each of the eight episodes is mostly effective. It might not make us laugh out loud, but a chuckle here, a giggle there, and a whole lot of eye-rolling in between, ensures that Meme Boys is definitely engaging and well… worth a share or two. 

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