I think it is fair to say, television is having a golden age. In the last 15 years, great comedy series like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, The Office, & 30 Rock have transformed the genre, while dramatic television has achieved pure brilliance with shows like Buffy, The Wire, Firefly, Mad Men, Sopranos, & Breaking Bad. Of course it must be said there has been plenty of crap during this period too, but the great programming absolutely eclipse this.
At the same time as this great television has been airing week after week on the traditional networks, downloading and streaming of video content online has exploded in popularity.
While “Old Media” has been trying to curb this phenomenon for over a decade, it seems that they missed the point. Like the music industry in the late 90s, many large broadcasting media players fail to see that we now expect our content to be free, on-demand 24/7 and without blatant commercial breaks (although we accept the odd preview and pop-up ad).
As huge corporations and organizations are busy trying to make it illegal for us to see their shows for free, more opportunities for alternative media sources continue to pop up. There is a hungry audience for free content.
As it has been said more than few times before, we are living through a television/broadcasting revolution. No longer do viewers simply sit quietly and watch. We want to participate and influence the media we consume.
Enter the web series. Broadcast solely on the web, these shows have been slowly filing the gaps. Due to their low budget and the low barrier-to-entry – anyone can shoot a quick video and throw it up on the web – these web based shows can take more chances, for better or worse.
What’s more, the medium basically requires that the creators of these programs connect with their audience day in day out. If a producer decides to crowd fund the project, as is often the case, they will need to connect with their audience before the shooting even begins. Its amazing to see producers, writers and developers tweeting behind the scene details, offering extra video interviews on youtube, posting links to blogs and Facebook pages. It describes a profound change from the traditional dynamic between broadcaster and audience.
So as an ode to this new-ish medium (although, truth be told, the first web series come out in the 90s!), I have compiled a list of some excellent web series for you to check out. Are you are ready to cross over?
The Bitter End - Fantastic Montreal based comedy about 2 brothers.
The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks - A sad playwright’s adventures in love. Staring Adam Goldberg
Between 2 ferns with Zach Galifianakis - Celebrity interviews between 2 ferns
Ikea Heights - A soap opera set entirely in Ikea.
Web Therapy - Lisa Kudrow stars as a therapist working over the web
7 minutes in Heaven - Interviews in a closet with comedian Mike O’Brien
For some seriously creative (but kinda out there) web series check out:
Please feel free to suggest additional titles below. I am always looking for a new series to jump into!