I planned on writing another article for today, but after watching the tv show Followers on Netflix 2 days ago, I knew I had to talk about it. What is it you ask ? It’s a Japanese tv show produced by Mika Ninagawa, who used to be a photographer (which totally makes sense when you look at the way she works with color and lighting), released on Netflix in February 2020.
The series revolves around Limi, a 38 Y.O fashion photographer who launches Natsume’s carreer, a young actress that only finds ungrateful jobs, including the one that will change her life. It’s when she replaces a model for an ad where she’s not treated right that Limi takes and posts on Instagram a photo of Natsume full of rage. Her Instagram account blows up and then she becomes trendy. But you already know that it won’t be as easy as that…
INSTAGRAM AND ITS CRUEL REALITY
For a while now, numerous movies and tv shows have talked about social medias to depict their bad side, such as Black Mirror, The Social Dilemma or The Circle. What’s interesting with Followers is that it explores the illusory power of social medias (here Instagram) to create an alternative reality in our world, our era. It’s not another dooming content that points out everything bad with Instagram, but its impact on someone that wants to make it in the creative world. And that has to face the gain of success on Instagram. I find this Tv show extremely real and reassuring.
Online, Natsume is a young and trendy actress, people want to be friends with her and work with the girl that was invisible a week ago. But IRL, she still doesn’t achieve her goals and ends up in an agency that only gives her small jobs. I really liked the message behind the series. First of, it’s always good to remember that Instagram is not reality, but also that success on Instagram is not an end.
What’s interesting is the way the protagonist redefines her relationship with social medias. It’s not always toxic, you have to stay grounded and keep yourself in the real world. After a bad buzz on social medias, Natsume decides to disappear in order to forge her own path.
A VIBRANT AESTHETIC
What makes Followers’ success is its aesthetic. We find ourselves envelopped in a vibrant aesthetic with a saturated work of colors going between pastels and vivid tones. We feel like we’re watching a TV show through an Instagram filtre, which makes Tokyo an even more attractive city.
Each scene is full of colors and plays with emotions, for example the scene where Sayo, the falling star and Akane’s protegee, breaks her trophees and tears her photos apart in a room in her appartment with a red ambiance that brings out Sayo’s rage.
There’s a strong photograph’s influence in the producer’s work, such as the scene where Limi explores the TeamLab exhibition and finds herself drowned by lights or the scene where Natsume watches the sakuras blossom like some kind of magic. We’re hyped by Tokyo’s eclectic energy.
Each character has a different profile, so it makes them stand out even more in front of the camera. In Limi’s group, there’s her agent and best friend Yuruco, trying to juggle between his life with Limi and his life his his boyfriend Michael. He’s even more important to Limi since she wants to have a baby and keep working. It’s refreshing that Limi is not pictured as an egoist person but as the incarnation of a modern woman multi-tasking.
There’s also Akane who, unlike Yuruco, doesn’t have time for personal time, she’s devotating herself to her work as an agent in the music industry and especially Sayo, a star that has lost her success. And finally there’s Eriko, the older one from the group that doesn’t know when to take a break from her work to enjoy her relationship with his younger boyfriend Sueo, a coach.
In Natsume’s group, there’s Sunny, her bestfriend, a lesbian unknown artist waiting to get noticed. There’s also Nori. We don’t know much about him, he’s a discreet young boy that mostly intervenes as a mediator for Sunny and Natsume. A new character will join the group when the actress, after her job as a Uber Eats driver, meet Hiraku, child actor turned into Youtubeur dreaming about cinema.
To summer up, this TV show is a vivid portrait of 2 modern women and their identities fractured in Instagram pictures for all to see, and their journey to take back control over their lives.
Before writing this article I wanted to read a few reviews and I was quite surprised when I read articles that only talked about Instagram, as if it was the only subject of the series. But I think that Followers is much more than that. Sure, it talks about Instagram, but it mostly revolves around Instagram in the artistic world, which is peculiar. I think that this is the first time that I identify so much to a series’ characters and what they’re facing. I think this TV show is for our generation and mostly the one that is trying to make it in this world and feels the pressure of Instagram and success. If you’re from this category, I can only recommand this series to you.
Written by Elena Gaudé.