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The Virgin Mattress
Tonight's Webseries Presentation


Starring: Vanessa Severo, Rusty Sneary, Sharon Wright, Miles McMahon, Chad Crenshaw, Michael Ashcraft

Written By: Drew Hall, Lia Hotchkiss, Tony Niknejadi, Emily Eldridge Directed By: Drew Hall

See It Here: http://www.thevirginmattress.com

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


It’s there.  You could do worse.

Pairs Well With...


Doesn’t matter what kind.  It’s better than Boone’s Farm, and you can kinda sorta say you had wine with dinner.

“I just gave that girl her own personal Hallelujah Chrous, and she don’t even know it.”

When people start looking into webseries, it’s often as an alternative to the “same old, same old” of regular television: a place to find fresh, innovative stories told in a creative manner.  With that in mind, is there room for a standard sitcom about the goings-on at a struggling mattress store?

I’d say that there is.  After all, the internet is a big place, and there’s plenty of unreal estate for everyone.  Unfortunately, though it may be advertised as such, The Virgin Mattress is not a sitcom, and it’s not a sitcom because it’s just not funny.  To be honest, I’m not even convinced that it’s a series.

After watching The Virgin Mattress, I feel less like I just sat through an entertainment webseries than I feel that I just watched a corporate marketing pitch using actors instead of Powerpoint.  To be clear, this has nothing to do with the fact that The Virgin Mattress has itself a corporate sponsor; indeed, that aspect is very tastefully handled and plays quite naturally.  What I mean is that without looking at The Virgin Mattress as some sort of presentation designed to bring about employee buy-in for a new marketing strategy for some real mattress giant somewhere, I just can’t see any point to the series at all.

To say that the major arc of the story is thinly drawn is being generous: it could be completely resolved in under five minutes with no other important context whatsoever; indeed, I’d argue that it is resolved in under five minutes with no other important context whatsoever.  The episode plots – when they exist – are anorexic affairs that add nothing to the major arc outside of filler, and one could easily go through several episodes wondering if anything actually happened at all.  Characters?  If I wasn’t constantly looking back at the show’s website, I still wouldn’t know anyone’s name, or how some of the characters relate to the others at all.  (The fact that the one character you probably won’t need a cheat sheet for is an old white guy who calls himself “Pimp” is not a good thing.)  From a dramatic storytelling standpoint, the writing here is so weak that I’m not even sure that it’s ready for solid food, much less the big time.

The direction isn’t helping things, either.  Sure, you’ve got an amazing POV shot of a glass of beer making its way from the bar to a table during the first episode, but when it comes to the stuff that counts, it’s strictly a point and shoot affair.  The jokes as written are questionable to begin with, and as presented, every one of them falls flat.  (I cracked one smile at the line quoted up top; that’s it.  I never laughed.)  There is just no sense of comedic atmosphere or timing here.  None.  I really wish there was, because the one thing that does come across loud and clear is that these filmmakers – whom I’m sure are all very nice people – have got heart, but at the end of the day… no.  Not funny, and not fun.  When a show tries to make as many (reasonably safe for work) sexual references as this one does and still can’t bring about a smile, you know there’s trouble in River City.

But again, looking at The Virgin Mattress as a marketing idea… The sales pitch the writers come up with is simple, but damn, it is brilliant.

I’m not going to fault the cast here; indeed, Vanessa Severo and especially Sharon Wright add enough life to the material that I’d like to see what they can do elsewhere.  The writing, though… as noted, it only passes as marketing copy.

Bottom line, while you’ve seen many things worse than The Virgin Mattress, you can also find a lot better.  This bed’s too soft, it’s unmade, and the frame’s not even finished… though there is a nice heart carved into the headboard.

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Full Series | Eight Episodes, 3 – 5.5 minutes each

Episode 1: “So I Married A Bed Retailer” – We open with a case of mistaken identity; namely, an elderly bedwetter for whom a nice lady comes into the store to buy a new mattress turns out to be a small dog and not a human.  The joke falls flat, but is saved by the title screen.  After that, it’s a few minutes a bar, where we meet our players, including a very loud guy who brings his own flagon of mead in with him to a bar, and a dirty old man who happens to be our heroes’ competition in the bed business.  I’m calling the highlight as the beer glass POV shot the starts off the bar scene.  Oh, dear.

Episode 2: “Heart of Gold” – Our heroine spends the first minute of the show bored and waiting for customers, eventually being surprised by one while jumping on a bed.  Uh-huh.  What follows the title card has no context, but the sales guys wants to go to lunch, has no regular staff to cover, and gets a cougar-looking friend of unknown origin to do it.  The punchline of what happens next is crack-a-smile funny, but the three minutes leading up to it… well…

Episode 3: “Ambiance to Remember” – Our heroine redecorates, hoping to drum up business, with predictably disastrous results.  At three and a half minutes (inclusive of credits), this episode is still too long, and I haven’t laughed yet.

Episode 4: “Man with the Golden Spring” – I’ve officially crossed the “why am I still watching this?” threshold.  Friends of our heroes decide to secret shop the competition, who happens to be the aforementioned dirty old man who also has an urban hip-hop complex and likes to call himself “pimp.”  Mr. Friend, meanwhile, has a James Bond complex.  The sad thing is that I can’t decide which one plays out as being less funny.

Episode 5: “One Crazy Slumber” – Crazy?  Where?  Continuity Cop: the redecorations from Episode 3 were gone at the start of this episode, then back after the title card.  I can’t really say that anything else happens here.

Episode 6: “On a Rope” – Apparently, this one didn’t rate a pre title card sequence.  Instead we go right to the narcoleptic moron who tries to rob the store and the minor domestic squabble.  I hate to sound like a broken record, but I’m still waiting for the fun part.

Episode 7: “…And They Have a Plan” – Through context, you can figure out what it is.  It’s even quite clever.  And then the episode’s over.

Episode 8: “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” – I can’t say that it feels like a finale, but it is one.  I guess.

And with that, I think it’s past time to put this webseries to bed, and suggest that you’ll probably have more fun watching something else.

- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2012

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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