Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Shit hits TIFF

Popular web series created by Toronto couple

It’s sometimes forgotten that the Shit Girls Say video phenomenon didn’t start on YouTube. Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard’s hit web series (premiering its fourth episode at the Toronto International Film Festival) was born as a Twitter account.
Already followers of numerous comedians, the Toronto-based couple staked their claim on the Twitter-verse, not by recording the minutiae of their own lives, but by collecting “girl-isms,” many they’d found themselves saying occasionally.
“We didn’t think about what might happen,” Humphrey says. “We weren’t expecting this massive following or a web series. We just thought it would be fun and hopefully develop a small audience around it.”
Quick on the heels of their Twitter explosion (they had more than half a million followers at one point), they expanded their social media reach to video (see below). Though they cowrite the series, Sheppard (already an established filmmaker) deals with shooting and editing and stars as the series’ heroine.
Decked in barely there drag (more Kids in the Hall than RuPaul’s Drag Race) his unnamed “girl” keeps viewers in stitches as she asks for blankets, bemoans trying on clothes, and wonders if she remembered to lock the door.
Despite racking up more than 17 million YouTube hits and copious parodies, not all the project’s followers are fans. Numerous journalists and bloggers have criticized it as misogynist and infantilizing of women, labelling them as needy and incompetent “girls” desperate for men’s attention and assistance.
“Whenever you paint something with broad strokes, people will feel like they are not being represented,” Humphrey says. “But we were happy people created their own videos to represent their experiences. I can say with confidence that a lot of people like the videos and a lot of them identify as girls.”
Many of the inanities the project labels female-speak aren’t exactly female specific. Men also wonder if they are getting sick, make plans with their friends and occasionally even ask for honesty. And despite what the videos might suggest, many women can actually operate computers. But Sheppard and Humphreys insist they aren’t angling for traditional dumb-girl jokes. Rather, they’re deconstructing how women can be expected to behave.
“It bothers me when people call the character dumb or ditzy,” Sheppard says. “Saying things like this doesn’t mean you’re unintelligent. Women can get labelled as a bitch if they ask for what they want in a direct way, so there’s often a tendency toward cradling things in this way of speaking.” 

The Deets:

Shit Girls Say 
Toronto International Film Festival
Thurs, Sept 13 at 6:15pm
TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 
Fri, Sept 14 at 9:30am
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 
350 King St W