Meet Matthias: a gay, Austrian wolf with a flair for the dramatic, who works at a frozen yogurt shop called Yogurtlandu and who loves to party. Matthias has just shown d up for his freshman fall at Billiams College, a small liberal arts school nestled in the heart of the Berkshires. Any connection to our own Williams College? Quite possibly.
Billiams is an animated YouTube series created by Corey Sherman, a college student at the University of Southern California. It takes a humorous look at the culture of small liberal arts schools like the College, poking fun at everything from non-conformists to weed dealers. Corey said he suffered great anxiety over the years at being labeled a “hipster,” and that Billiams is a way for him to “vent those anxieties, to acknowledge [his] own artsy performativity and laugh at it.” He hopes that other people can do the same, because “I think we all wear that artsy, intellectual, liberal mask a little too much sometimes, and it’s good to acknowledge it, laugh, and relax. I also like playing with the conforming to nonconformity because it’s so funny to me and because people around the world do it, regardless of whether or not they go to a small liberal arts school.”
Throughout the first episode of the series titled “Matthias Arrives”, Corey and his team definitely play up the “conforming to nonconformity” theme, often quite hilariously. The episode begins in the Billiams Admissions Office, as the officers go through Matthias’ application. They are clearly impressed by the fact that he is two years old, from Austria, and wants to major in documentary film. When they figure out he is also a wolf, they are a bit skeptical at first, but then they decide that they need to “expand the diversity of the student population by introducing members of another species.” Very progressive of you, Billiams.
According to Corey, the inspiration for Matthias came from a very pleasant and amusing Austrian he once met, who at some point cooked him Weiner Schnitzel, Matthias’ favorite food and conversation starter during his first days at Billiams. Matthias meets his roommate, offers him some Weiner Schnitzel, and is promptly kicked out because his roommate is vegan.
Then Matthias meets some new, interesting people on campus, including one friend who prefers secondary colors to primary ones, and another group who try and recruit him for the Animal Collective. But he still has no place to live, so a friend recommends he stay at CandleBar, an all-wolf dance club on Main Street “between the boutique and the honey store” where Matthias fits right in and parties the night away.
According to Corey, he always imagined that he would end up at a small liberal arts school like the College. Since he ended up at USC, this YouTube series is, “a playground for me to imagine what that life and world would have been like – the hyper focus on humanities, the small town, the artsiness and overwhelming whiteness.”
In truth, the show is very funny. But it is definitely R-rated, especially in some episodes. Corey addressed this, saying “Granted, things are taken to such a stereotypical extreme in the show precisely because I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t at all profess Billiams to be a reflection of the real Williams or any real liberal arts school. But maybe I’ve touched on some small truths of that world, and if I have, then I’m delighted. I’m just having fun imagining things.”
So far, Billiams’ popularity is small but on the rise. Currently, the first episode of Billiams has more than 10,000 views, while the rest of the episodes average around 2000 views each. The videos are very short, usually around one to three minutes each. So far there are 11 episodes, with more to come in the future.
Billiams is created by a group of college kids just like students at Williams, who like to write about everything from “twisted alternate realities to very mundane things like eating frozen yogurt or going to English discussion.” Its characters and their accents are almost guaranteed to make you laugh, while the so-called social commentary is relatable to life at the College. Billiams is a great way to spend an hour on the web, and a funny way to remind us that we should relax more often and not take ourselves too seriously.