Oh Bo, Part Five: Eighth Grade
Burnham Moves to Film to Pass His Ideals to a Wider Audience with Eighth Grade
It begins, as it always has, in another suburban bedroom. But something’s different. It’s darker except for two lights: one from the desk and the other from a laptop screen. The red record light stares out, waiting to be pushed, but it’s not that young boy, it’s a young girl. She’s set up a background and a camera. She looks at the wall, worried she might fade into the background with it. She doesn’t care. She presses the record button and waits for the video to start. No one will watch these videos, but the girl pays it no mind. They’re more for her, even if she doesn’t realize it yet.
Bo Burnham had dominated the stand-up scene, creating three of the most daring and unique specials anyone had ever seen. He had just completed his latest stand-up special Make Happy and was ready to step away from performing. Burnham had been working for years on making his first foray into film. He was brimming with ideas, the question was what to start with. After looking back at his career and fanbase, it turned out that demographic that he connected to most to was 13-year-old girls. So that’s who Burnham made his directorial debut on.
Eighth Grade centers on 13-year-old Kayla Day, played by the remarkable Elsie Fisher. She runs her own YouTube channel filled with motivational videos that no one watches. She purports herself to be this confident, put together person, but in reality, she is anxious and terrified. Over the course of her last five days in eighth grade, we witness Kayla trying to make a change. Whether it’s going to a popular girl’s pool party, hanging out with high school kids, or eating chicken nuggets with a new friend, Kayla tries to overcome her own fears to become the confident, capable person she’s presented herself to be.
Eighth Grade is an uncomfortable, yet honest look at what it means to grow up in today’s digital society. The anxieties Kayla…