Five Web Series Worthy of Your Bandwidth
Web entertainment is on the rise and nothing legitimates a cultural movement better than an awards show. This Thursday, January 12, the inaugural IAWTV Awards will be broadcast live on YouTube, celebrating the Internet as a platform for quality original programming, not just syndicated content. With rumors surrounding Apple TV, Google TV, YouTube, and recent deals with Netflix, Hulu, and Yahoo!, the Internet is gradually becoming our primary source of entertainment. We no longer need to rely on pre-set broadcast times, we now have the luxury of choosing when, what, and where to watch classic and innovative programming.
Be it through host sites like MyDamnChannel.com and Blip.tv, right out of a drunk kitchen, or supported by an indie production company, there are more opportunities than ever to create, distribute, and watch serial entertainment. Even though this vast network will only continue to grow, original web entertainment isn’t yet being taken as seriously as traditional broadcast TV because the content being produced is easy to distribute without tracking, short form, and there’s not as much money and press in it. Whether studios respond to tech-savvy consumer behavior now or they take some time to realize that there’s a strong online market for innovative programming, this is where big news for entertainment is headed.
BRANDED – Easy to Assemble
What happens when Hollywood meets IKEA? In this series, a fictionalized Illeana Douglas ditches the glitz, glam, and gossip of show biz for some honest work at the Sweden’s second best import (after Robyn, of course). Finding other jaded actor friends along the way, such as Justine Bateman, Ed Begley, and Jane Lynch, Douglas struggles to navigate the hierarchy of the IKEA empire in search of some normality — however, she quickly comes to learn that there are some aspects of Hollywood life that even an IKEA brand uniform can’t stifle. For more on branded entertainment, check out Michael Shields’ 12-part series, Solving the Web’s Brand Challenge, at Digiday.
HOMEMADE – Daily Grace
Grace Helbig is what I like to call a sit-down comedian. Released on MyDamnChannel.com, most of the Daily Grace videos consist of the title lady sitting in a chair in front of her camera just doin’ the funny — unless she’s traveling or making Sexy Friday videos with Rebecca Black. Some YouTubers have pegged her comedy as too female-focused, but I beg to differ. Here’s a video about tampons.
LIVESTREAM – What’s Trending with Shira Lazar
Originally produced under the CBS.com umbrella, What’s Trending had to fend for itself this fall after the account sent out a tweet saying that Steve Jobs had died when he, in fact, had not. But media maven, Shira Lazar carried on without a visible hitch, streaming live from some of the biggest events in tech and launching shows every Tuesday to keep viewers on top of the latest trends. Lazar’s behind the scenes vlogs are also worth watching for an inside look at the hard work and good times that go into producing digital media.
STUDIO – The Booth at the End
Created by Christopher Kubasik and produced by Vuguru, The Booth at the End is a sci-fi series that asks the question, “How far would you go to get what you want?” It’s been described as the “LOST” of web entertainment. Having originally been released on Canada’s CityTV.com, it then aired in a movie format on broadcast TV in August. (Internet —> TV?! What is this the apocalypse?) It can now be viewed on Hulu.
CLASSIC – The Guild
It’s difficult to argue that such a young form of entertainment can already have “classics.” But The Guild was one of the first series to truly define the potential of web entertainment and you’re likely to find it on any “Best Web Series” list out there. Its creator, Felicia Day, is the Zooey Deschanel of the Internet, even though with the rising popularity of HelloGiggles, Zooey Deschanel is becoming the Zooey Deschanel of the Internet. (How dare she?!) Day made gaming cool for a wider audience, gained a whopping 1 mil+ followers on Twitter, and created what might be the most referenced original web series to date. As was quipped at the 2009 Streamy Awards, Step #9 for creating an award winning web series is to simply cast Felicia Day.
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