Over the last year I’ve started to get into a number of “web television” productions. These are short (ranging from 3 or 4 minutes to 15 minutes per episode) videos, made for release on the internet. The Guild (especially their music video, Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?), The Legend of Neil and the utterly brilliant Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog are examples of some of the best of this new entertainment medium.
I was intrigued when Quietrose recently e-mailed me a link to “Saving Penny“, a web-based video series on Bell Sympatico’s finance site yourmoney.ca. Created by Stitch Media, starring Sarah McCarthy, directed by Mark Mullane and written by Emily Amos this series was “written in the style of Sex & the City and targeting 20- and 30-something women, these videos provide useful and non-threatening financial tips and information.”
Each short episode targets a specific financial concept that Penny runs into a problem with, such as budgeting, whether to buy or lease a new car, stock investing or insurance. Her boyfriend Doug (or friend Allison) smugly and condescendingly sets her straight and then there’s an animation with voice-over explaining the concept.
The first thing viewers will probably notice is the remarkably bad acting. For some reason this seems to be pretty standard with Canadian television (we can grow comedians and divas in this country, but acting seems to be beyond us). A particular low point is the “drunk slut” in episode 3 (I’m pretty sure *I* could be a more convincing drunk slut – heck, I *am* a better drunk slut after I’ve had a couple of beers!). It might not be fair to blame this entirely on the actors, as the dialogue is pretty cheesy and was probably tough to work with. I’d never heard the intro song “Don’t Let Your Feet Touch Ground” by Ash Koley, but it’s catchy and a lot of fun. The animations are very well done.
I think the financial information is pretty solid (nothing jumped out as bad advice to me). I think in some places they went a bit too “middle of the road” in their advice. I would say most people shouldn’t lease a car, should use a fee-only advisers and should avoid pet insurance like the plague, but each of these is presented as a debatable issue. I can understand that they’re trying to convey the fundamentals of money management, not advocating for a specific perspective, so I suppose this can be forgiven.
Overall, I found the series to be fairly sexist. In the animations, Penny always wants to buy shoes, and her boyfriend always wants to buy a big screen TV. The men (Penny’s boyfriend and her friend’s unseen husband) were consistently presented as knowing more about financial topics. This seems like a strange choice, given that the series was created for 20 and 30 year old women. If any women watch the series, please comment on whether you find it sexist or not.
The production values were quite good, and I think they did a reasonably good job blending entertainment and financial information (which can be tough). I watched all 10 episodes the same day I found out about the series, so it was good enough to keep me watching!
Check out the Squawkfox review on 5 Money lessons learned from Saving Penny.
Thanks for the link Quietrose! Anyone who watches it, please comment with what you think.