By guest contributor Neha Talreja
Is it too soon to ask who watches TV on TV anymore? I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t getting real snuggly with my toasty MacBook while catching up on an entire season of How I Met Your Mother. We’re a pocket tripod and boom mic away from making “TV” on our smart phones, so you’re already late if you haven’t been watching any shows made specifically for the web platform. A number of actors and comedians have been making digital shorts since the mid-2000s, but, in the last few years, serialized web series have exploded, appearing not only on YouTube but a number of web series-oriented websites like Blip.tv and TubeFilter.com. What my ultra-modern (miniscule) attention span likes about these is that, even as they increase production value and draw bigger talent, many have stayed 5-10 minutes an episode and still retain impressive narrative arcs and character development. Most of them are a product of a new kind of underground film scene which allows aspiring actors, writers, and filmmakers to work on something with substance instead of delving into the hopeless cattle call for small roles in New York City and Los Angeles, additionally giving wider exposure to talent in other cities like Philly, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, and yours truly, San Francisco. Here are some of my favorites from the last few years.
Married on MySpace
MySpace, in one of its many efforts to reinvent itself, got in on the web series game relatively early. Their 2009 interactive reality series Married on MySpace, with contestants reminiscent of the '90s Real World era, feels like a throwback even now as this decade’s savvy “reality television actors” studied up enough to find their fifteen minutes of infamy. Viewers vote on every detail of one lucky couple’s impending wedding, from location to invitations to attire. The best part is how earnest the contestants are, genuinely excited in their quest to attain the wedding of a lifetime! -- paid for by MySpace. It’s that enthusiasm and subsequent shock that comes out of letting a demented viewership have control that makes this worth indulging in. These voters are people who still use MySpace! Who else will vote to transport the couple in a vintage Rolls Royce one episode and make them say their vows in (spoiler alert!) kilts the next?
The Bloody Mary Show
For the most part, web series are made up of short five to ten minute episodes, which allows more of the zanier stuff that might feel too high strung to watch full-length. Think SNL’s digital shorts but with a season arc. The Bloody Mary Show is a British comedy that plays out like darker dinner theater -- the urban legendary Bloody Mary and her friends live, love, and discuss it all Cheers style at their local bar. We’ve all got that Saturday night wind-down show, and it turns out, when you’re still a little drunk with a burrito in hand at 3 A.M., little is more entertaining than a skeleton and succubus in costuming that looks like it came out of the Halloween superstore and surprisingly good production value, spewing pithy remarks about the disgustingness of sex with humans. “It curdles my girdles…all that flesh, all those organs…” Watch The Bloody Mary Show here!