The Annoying Orange is popular. Indescribably popular. Anyone who feels the urge to write about it tends to feel hatred that they didn't know was inside them. It taps into loathing that people tend to feel towards Nickelback or Dane Cook or that Jim Belushi show, According to Jim. The inevitable question that arises, after somehow making it through scores of episodes of The Annoying Orange, is how is it popular? Who is watching this, and enjoying it? Well, the answer is likely, "People you don't associate with on a regular basis, of which there are many." As someone who has watched a lot of Annoying Orange episodes and found them mostly awful, I decided to delve into the genius of The Annoying Orange.
Genius Move #1: They Tell You Its Annoying Before You Even Watch It
Hey, did you know that The Annoying Orange is annoying? And you still watched it? So, tell me, did you find The Annoying Orange annoying at all? You did? That's surprising! So what the title character does is find a new food with a face in the kitchen every week, and bombard that food with questions, interruptions, and bad food puns.
At its best, the show can be mildly amusing, mainly because Orange will heighten the frustration to absurd levels with his shtick, to the point that the berated food will say, "You're so annoying!" to which the orange says, "No I'm not...I'm an orange." It's one of the most ironic breaks of tension you can possibly have in a piece of entertainment, where something mildly annoying topples the even greater tower of annoying that the orange has built in just a few seconds.
Here's an episode featuring The Annoying Orange versus another curiously popular and annoying YouTube entity, Fred. They address and own their annoyingness, which is infuriating and smart:
Genius Move #2: They're Short
Lasting anywhere from a minute to at most (and rarely) four, it's not like the creators of The Annoying Orange are asking you to sit through a program that is normal web series length, like 6-8 minutes. It's certainly not TV series length!
Chances are, you just mass-murdered a bunch of oranges in your kitchen. Which brings me to yet another genius move of the show. Wait, there's more than two?
Genius Move #3: The Mass Murder
The Annoying Orange has a darkly comic aspect to it, one that isn't so dark that it's off-putting, or that children would get scared. We're talking about the mass-murder of fruits and vegetables here. Sure, they have faces on them, it gives them personification, but there's something a little satisfying about seeing these foods get knifed, blended, and grated. I imagine some people go to work, sneak in two minutes to watch The Annoying Orange, and get some satisfaction out of seeing the horror-movie-style deaths of inanimate objects.
This might be the other mildly amusing thing about the show. Seeing Orange go from annoying, to slightly disturbed, and quickly back to annoying again has a certain charm to it. Death is disturbing, but not so disturbing that it should change who you are.
Genius Move #4: Embracing the Fans
The fans are, for the most part, kids as far as anyone can really tell. And stoners, probably. And maybe some people who find the show so annoying, they keep watching it to tell everyone how annoying it is. The fact that these shows take the very basics of comedy, bad puns, silly voices, repetitive dialogue, and keep doing what amounts to the same show over and over with slight variations, is probably appealing to the very young, who never want things to change.
The common thought is that if the TV show ever gets picked up, it will go on some sort of children's network like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network.
The show does try to appeal to the older demographic, though. The Annoying Orange has been around since 2009, but they've done four episodes revolving around those Budweiser "Wazzup?" commercials that ended way back in 2002. They did a Saw and The Ring episode. There's one with Pac-Man. It's doubtful that The Annoying Orange would get so many views if strictly children watched it, and indeed these "special" parody episodes see a jump in overall views:
Genius Move #5: It's Tirelessly Consistent
Coming up with five genius moves that the creators of The Annoying Orange have made is going to lead to my first Pulitzer. I just want to see that on the Pulitzer roster one day: "For his groundbreaking efforts in finding genius with The Annoying Orange."
Perhaps no show on the web gives its fans new content as consistently as this one. Sure, it's short. Sure, probably a million monkeys without a typewriter could come up with the show. But hey, new content is on YouTube without fail almost every Friday. If there isn't an episode on Friday, they make an episode about how they don't have an episode.
One of the worst aspects of web series at this moment in time is consistency. There is a lot of disarray: web series announcing new seasons and not coming through, or ending a season and not giving any indication as to whether it will be back, or coming out with an episode or two and then not putting out a new one for weeks. The Annoying Orange, for all its flaws, puts out episodes better than almost every show out there.
The numbers speaking to this consistency are astounding: over 780 million overall views for the series, over 2 million subscribers to his realannoyingorange channel (the 9th most subscribed channel of all time), and over 9 million Facebook followers.
A Product of All the Genius: $$$
On top of all this, the show gets not only the ad revenue from YouTube, but they have memorabilia, and an iPhone game. The Annoying Orange makes a lot of money, probably enough to make you faint at the sight of the bank account of someone who creates a web show about an annoying orange. If you were at the bar, and you ran into creator Dane Boedigheimer and you didn't know who he was, and you struck up a conversation with him, inevitably you would get into a conversation about work. After you tell Dane about your dead-end job and the jerk boss, try not to get into a fistfight with him when he tells you what he does and how much money he makes doing it.