Pls Like: Why you have to watch BBC3’s fantastic YouTube mockumentary
Liam Williams' send-up of vloggers, or "self-manipulating content puppets" as he calls them, is spot on
The mockumentary is enjoying a revival on the BBC right now. Our Country, People Just Do Nothing, W1A. Simon Amstell has just revealed an hour-long fake documentary called Carnage, set in 2067 in a world where everyone is vegan.
And yet there’s another bitingly observed programme that’s recently – and quietly – landed on BBC3. It’s called Pls Like, and because of the unique way online-only BBC3 now operates, you probably haven’t heard of it.
But it’s funny. Very funny. It’s a merciless lampoon that’s long overdue.
The premise sees Liam Williams – a “critically lauded but commercially unsuccessful comedian” – enter an online talent contest to find the next big vlogger.
Unemployed and too lazy to get a job, the £10,000 prize money is too tempting to resist. He ends up uploading a drunken rant about the state of today’s youth to the competition (“it’s a great tragedy for the whole generation that this is all that we’ve got”) under the name of Vloggy McVlogface.
He ends up winning, much to the distain of slimy vlogging PR guru James Wirm (Tim Key). Reluctant to hand over the cash, James sets Liam a series of challenges. Complete the challenges, he wins the money. But it does mean befriending many of the vloggers who stand for everything he disagrees with.
For anyone born outside of the 1990s or 2000s, vlog is just a typo for the words clog or flog. Yet for young people, vloggers are their idols. They have their own merchandise, break records with book sales, land magazine covers and have waxworks of themselves sat in Madame Tussauds. These are bona fide celebrities.
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But to Liam they’re “stupid pricks”. One of them is called Millipede; she loves her beauty and fashion and lives by meaningless mottos like “make the memories you’ll never forget to remember”. She has over 10 million subscribers, which, as Williams’ narration explains, “to give you a sense of scale is roughly the number of military deaths in the First World War.”
How Zoella – arguably the most successful vlogger in the country – is sent up so mercilessly without getting lawyers involved is anyone’s guess. But it’s bloody funny.
Admittedly the jokes are even stronger when you can pick out the references to real vloggers, and in Pls Like Williams has gone to great detail. Millipede's boyfriend Charlie 'South Mouth' is an incarnation of Zoella's other half and fellow blogger Aflie Deyes. Charlie even sports a jumper near-identical to the one available on Deyes' actual merchandise store.
Like all good mockumentaries, it runs almost too close to real life.
The episodes are also punctuated with helpful facts. For example, did you know that by 2025 it will be a legal requirement for every baby to have a Twitter handle on its birth certificate?
Previously (and somewhat ironically) tucked away on YouTube, this six-part mini series is now on BBC iPlayer. Pls Like is perfect binge-watching fodder – each episode is 15 minutes long – and is one of those shows you’ll devour in an afternoon and then immediately implore everyone you know to watch it.
Essentially, if you can relate to the fake fact that “the word ‘vlog’ is a blend of ‘Video’ and ‘euLOGy’ because some believe they represent the death of culture,” you will thoroughly relish Pls Like. So Pls Watch.