According to their fan site, Subtle Sexuality is “a girl group that features two divalicious divas: the beautiful and mysterious KELLY KAPOOR and the pretty ERIN HANNON.” Of course, for those of us who watch NBC’s The Office, Subtle Sexuality is a hilarious web project featuring the talented Mindy Kaling and Ellie Kemper (along with BJ Novak and Ed Helms). Behold:
Subtle Sexuality is (so far) a girl group at the heart of a three-part series hosted on The Office NBC Video Rewind site. Though a lot is problematic about this project to begin with (hosted on the network site, available for purchase on iTunes, contains a buttload of ads, perpetuates stereotypes about women and relationships) a lot of it is really funny and (dare I say) a tad subversive as well. Check out the first video, where Kelly Kapoor (played by the super-awesome Mindy Kaling who is also a writer for the show – Mindy, if you’re reading, please call us and be our bff) outlines the story behind Subtle Sexuality:
If you watch the show, you know that Kelly’s relationship with Ryan has been a punchline for many seasons now. Sure, he’s a douche, but she loves him anyway and she likes to paint their relationship as epic and tragic (like a romance novel) as opposed to what it is: a pedestrian office romance wherein she settles for a douche who doesn’t appreciate her. This woman-scorned-yet-also-needy plot is a trite one, but Kaling’s performance as Kapoor subverts the stereotype and shows Ryan to be the fool, not her. Oh, and Kapoor is obsessed with girly pop culture like Britney and Beyoncé – hence the inspiration behind Subtle Sexuality (and her quasi-dramatic behavior and insistence on music video authenticity like a cigarette and a high heel).
The second installment (enter Andy “ ‘Nard Dog” Bernard, whom I love):
So things aren’t perfect. There is most definitely some fatphobia afoot with Kevin (though part of their aversion to him is definitely his poor hygiene) and Ryan is still acting like an ass yet Kelly makes out with him anyway. Is this a send-up of a stereotype, or just the stereotype? Either way, I laughed when Andy sang the song to the vending machine (like I said, I am a major ‘Nard Dog fan). Now to the video!
What did you think? Funny, right? I know there were some questionable lines in there (You look gay in your skinny tie! / I hope you get killed in a drive-by!) that, were this not a parody, would be too offensive to laugh at. But it is a parody, and I think it’s a pretty good one. The women dance around in their office warehouse in store-bought pirate costumes singing about a “male prima donna” and the whole thing reads like a pretty amusing and subversive jam to me. We’re used to seeing men in the power seat in videos like these, which is why Kelly and Erin’s performances could be read as a critique of the music video industry. Also, though the lyrics may be over the top (as are the leotards) they’re honest and pretty catchy. They were written by two dudes (Nate Federman and Jonathan Hughes) though, so that is kind of a bummer.
Enough from me, though. What do you think of Subtle Sexuality? Are you in hell, nirvana, or both?