‘Haters Back Off’s Colleen Ballinger: “We’re Definitely Introducing Some New Characters” in Season 2

Carol Segal/Netflix
Colleen Ballinger as Miranda Sings in Netflix's "Haters Back Off"

When Colleen Ballinger announced on her YouTube channel a few weeks back that her Netflix series Haters Back Off! would be back for another eight episodes in Season 2, the response from fans was enormous — the video has, at latest count, received nearly a million and a half views and many positive, enthusiastic comments. Similarly, both Ballinger’s “real life” Twitter feed, as well as the feed of her alter-ego, Miranda Sings — the subject of Haters Back Off! — were abuzz from fans liking and retweeting the news thousands of times.

This response across these and other social media platforms shows not only the passion Ballinger’s fans have for her character and her comedy series, but also how Ballinger has expertly incorporated these mediums into her art and her business. While Miranda Sings may cluelessly put up videos that are unknowingly (to her) bad, Ballinger is clearly quite knowledgeable with what she is doing creatively.

“With social media, I’m constantly posting,” Ballinger told us in a recent interview, “and I’ve been posting videos for so long. … I’ve been on YouTube for almost 10 years, and somehow I still find crazy things to do online. I think, if anything, having been on social media for so long, you have to get creative because everything’s been done now. I feel like the fact that social media has been around for so long and there’s so many people on it and it’s so over-saturated, it’s forced many people to get more creative, which I think is a good thing.

“It is hard to keep topping yourself. There are definitely days where I’m like, ‘What do I do today? I feel like I’ve done absolutely everything.’ The same with the show. We’re in the writers’ room [for Season 2] and we’re like, ‘Wow! Last season we did so many crazy things. How are we going to top it?’ But somehow, we always find a way.”

Ballinger had plenty more to say about the creative process, online life and the show.

How exciting was it to see the fan reaction to your Season 2 announcement?
Colleen Ballinger:
It was so fun to be online that day and looking at social media because everyone was just over the moon. We left Season 1 on quite a cliffhanger, so I think everyone was pretty anxious to hear if we’d get a Season 2 so they know what happens next.

When can we expect the new season?
There’s no official date yet. … definitely in 2017. We’re already back in the writers’ room, so we’re already working hard.

Can you tease any of your ideas for Season 2? Any changes?
Well, we’re definitely introducing some new characters that I’m really excited to share with all the fans — highly anticipated people that everyone’s been dying to get to meet from Miranda’s life. I think the characters are what’s going to excite everyone the most.

What was the response to the show’s first season?
Everyone was really excited about the show. I was very pleased with the fan reaction. I’m so lucky; I have the most supportive fans in the entire world, but they were surprised more than anything else. I think they were expecting it to be something a little bit different than what it was. You get to see kind of a vulnerable side of Miranda that you don’t really see online. I think that kind of shocked everybody.

Were you inspired by any “mockumentaries” or anything like that in putting together this show about Miranda’s background?
Oh, definitely. I grew up watching Christopher Guest movies and stuff like that. Mockumentaries are my favorite, but most of the stories are pulled from my own life. A lot of the show is just me pulling from things that actually happened to me in my childhood. There’s a lot of inspiration from comedies that I grew up watching, and then a lot from just my own childhood.

So there’s a bit of Miranda in you?
There is definitely a bit of Miranda in me. I think there’s Miranda in everybody. I hope that I’m not too much like Miranda, but there’s definitely some Miranda inside of me somewhere.

There’s no shortage of real-life Mirandas out there online. You satirize this tendency of people to be unaware of how talentless they might be, but what do you really think of it? Should people be told that they have no talent, or is it basically harmless to let them have their dreams?
I definitely started the channel because I was kind of poking fun at the idea that all these people could post whatever they wanted online and think that they were going to get famous from it. It was such a funny concept to me. Then it got popular, and I really discovered the internet. I grew to love it and think it’s wonderful. I think it’s awesome that there’s a place where anyone can upload anything they want, whatever they’re passionate and excited about. … I don’t see why we need to tell people if they don’t have talent. I think that people should be able to express themselves and do what they’re passionate about. We all started somewhere.

Are there still, even at this point in your popularity, any people who are fooled into thinking that Miranda Sings is a real character or a real person posting videos? Do they comment thinking she is real?
Yeah, definitely. Every single day I get comments from people who think Miranda is real, which is hilarious to me because, to me, it’s so obvious that it’s fake. But people still definitely think Miranda is real, and I get a lot of hate comments every day. It’s very funny.

That may show how reality and fantasy can blur, especially online. Do you think there’s any danger of blurring lines too much?
There’s definitely a danger there, for sure. I mean, people can be fooled into thinking almost anything with social media now. People just take what they read as truth online, as opposed to researching and finding out if it’s actually true. You read one thing on Twitter, and it’s fact, which is very scary, but I do think … for my job, it’s been fun to be able to kind of play with that line and, especially in the beginning of my career, play with the haters a little bit and make them think Miranda was a real person to get those comments. I thought it was very entertaining, and it’s what inspired this entire show to even happen. We have to be cautious with stuff like that because people do take whatever they read as truth now, but at the same time, it’s where I pulled most of my comedy from, so I’m a little bit grateful for it.

Miranda Sings is nominated for a People’s Choice Award in the Favorite YouTube Star category. How does that feel?
It’s very exciting to be nominated. I’m honored. It’s crazy. I never thought it would get to a place that it is now. It’s nuts.

Has working on the show still allowed you time to do live comedy?
It has not allowed time for me to do live comedy, but I’ve made time for live comedy. This has definitely been the craziest, most busy year of my entire life, but somehow I’ve still managed to post videos every single week and go on tour all over the world. I plan on continuing to do that next year, too, even though I’m doing the show. Live shows are my passion. How I started doing this, of course, we started doing YouTube videos, but I immediately wrote a one-woman show and went on the road. I really, really love being on tour. I’m actually going on tour in January, on a bus tour. Right in the middle of writing the show, I’ll be on a bus. I should not be doing it, but I can’t help myself. I love touring, so I can’t stop.

Haters Back Off!, Netflix