Web-Series: What You Should be Watching
If you are not currently watching a Web-series, what are you doing? Independent creators are taking their content to the next level of supplying their viewers with cutting-edge themes, resulting in viewership with a trending increase. Dramas, comedies, romance, whatever you’re into, there is Web-series waiting for you to watch. Writers, filmmakers, and actors are no longer relying on traditional ways to get their work seen. No production deal, no problem. With the help of Social Media and Video sharing Networks, it has become easier for creators to get their work seen in high volumes.
Web-series, especially independent Web-series are important because they are changing the way we consume our entertainment and information. Yes, we have been conditioned to enjoy polished “TV” videos with big budget production and high paid actors, but the grit is real and stories, scripted and unscripted are being told from new perspectives. There are high budget Web-series that can be viewed on YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook. They mimic the screen quality of a fully sponsored and funded television you can see on any major network, like ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX, but many of those shows got there start in humble beginnings with content that could not be ignored.
In 2011 Issa Rae posted episode 1 of Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. It was a jagged start to what became a seamless career of funny depictions of life, love, and adult-ing. Because of her HBO success, there is a large portion of her fans that don’t realize that she got her start as a humble Web-series creator.
While so many independent film and television creators find their way to mainstream success, there is something to be said for the nuances these free thinkers are bringing to the Web. They are not restricted by boardroom politics and have the freedom to explore story lines and topics that are not commonly seen from unique perspectives. There are stories being told through the lens of actual lived experiences, daydreams, and random thoughts being explored on screen.
The faces of television are changing, and we are here for the media glow-up that is introducing audiences to content we didn’t know we needed.
While we enjoy discovering new stories and adventures, stumbling over noise, junk, and throwaway user-generated content on the Internet can be hard to sift through. There is just so much of it. But have no fear; we are here to help you get started. Below we have compiled a list of Web-series that are a must see.
1. TOUGH LOVE
We love Tough Love, and it is even better when it comes from your friends, which is how you will come to think of this group after the first episode.
These characters are the besties you need in your head when you gush over a hot guy or swoon over a beautiful woman you want to peruse. But these young Black Millennials are not just serving up love advice; they are professionals, entrepreneurs, and self-starters. Is there a less career motivated, but always loads of fun to be around type of friend? Yes, of course, there is. There is always one, right? But that is why this is so needed.
It mimics real-life experience while giving you the unexpected surprises of good television. Watching Tough Love is like watching real people going through the challenges of life as they try to manage real problems, real happiness, and real friend-terventions. It’s comedy, drama and even a little suspense is fit into this captivating underrated series. Go watch.
What can you expect from Tough Love?
a. It’s current. Conversations about relevant social issues: Love, interracial dating, and diversity in the black experience, incarceration, commitment, friendships, dating, and politics.
b. It shatters the mold. It breaks stereotypes of race and gender. While the subject matter is not shoved down your throat, the messages are clear without being pushy.
c. Expect to be familiar with the characters. You will know someone who knows someone that knows someone who is beyond similar to a character in this show.
2. FUNNY MARRIED STUFF
Think 90’s hit comedy, Living Single, only everyone is married. Funny Married Stuff is a hilarious view at the hiccups in a marriage that never go unnoticed, but often times go un-talked about. The creators have opened up a dialogue about what goes into marriages and how marriages survive when partners may not be “keeping it real.”
All positive vibes here, but if we had to complain, our biggest gripe is, the episodes are too short. We want more, but we are left hanging in laughter, waiting for the next episode to drop. No need to get too hung up on waiting, the new season has begun, and the trailer has already conjured up big belly laughs touching on bathroom humor, weaves, and divorce.
What can you expect from Funny Married Stuff
a. Laughter. The subject matter's pretty light, so you’ll always leave the episode in good humor.
b. Unexpected topics. Who knew the unexpected can be found in the common institution of marriage? The couples each have unique issues, so the hilarity isn’t one note.
c. Social issues. Even though the humor is typically light they find a way to squeeze in a little social economics without interrupting the flow of the overall show.
When we think of Web-series we often make the mistake of assuming it is a scripted series, but the unscripted episodic content is wedging its way as a contender for major viewership.
The Grapevine, hosted and produced by Ashley Akuna has over six million views. Comprised of a panel of diverse thinkers discussing topics like The State of Hip Hop, LGBTQ issues, whether or not Bruno Mars is a cultural appropriator and so much more. The topics are current and the point of views sometimes make you tilt your head in thought, realizing that these panelists are saying what most people want to say, but won’t.
The panel is rarely in full agreement, but that is what we love about the show. Showing diversity in black thought is important to illustrate new narratives not popularly seen in mainstream television. They are free-thinking, well-educated persons, speaking passionately about what matters. They respect each other, even when they have clashing differences. The use of facts, statistics, and personal experience to validate their arguments shows they the are not there just to hear themselves speak, but to inform. They are speaking their truths without constraint while educating viewers on the issues that people of color face. The perspectives are fresh, current and worth the watch.
What to expect from Grapevine?
a. New ideas. The panel is made up of young people from all walks of life, including those from Continental African and Caribbean homes. As Black people in America their point of views are not always considered as relevant to the “black experience,” but their point of view is unique and needed to dispel the myth of the black monolith.
b. Laughter. Yes, this panel show is packed full of seriousness, but don’t be fooled, Grapevine has a sense of humor, which is why so many of their viewers return.
c. Connection. Don’t be surprised if a panelist reminds you of your favorite cousin, best friend or annoying little brother. The panel is not made of “personalities,” they are a collection of individuals being themselves, and it comes across as honest and inviting to their audience.
If you are into finding gems before they become an industry mainstream favorite, you must watch OUNCES.
Before the HBO hit comedy, Insecure, there was a young motivated creator, making her mark with the web series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. I’m I an Issa Rae fan? Yes, I am. But I am such a fan because I saw someone with a vision have her motivations manifest into a dream realized.
This is what I see with the creators of, OUNCES. The actors are delivering performances that are so convincing you forget you are watching a fictional series.
Watching this show is more like spying in on someone’s life. You are getting details, but not enough to solve any looming mysteries. You receive just enough to keep you longing for the next episode.
This 10 episode series, unlike many independent Web-series, comes with a soundtrack. Do not confuse this with a playlist. It is a full-blown album that speaks to the roles played out in the episodes. Find it on iTunes: Ounces (The Soundtrack, Season 1) by Various Artists.
Taking place in Hartford, CT, OUNCES follows the lives of a circle of men trying to contend for more money, power and respect in a drug market that is already oversaturated in a particular part of town.
There are secret tactics, secret players, and secret intentions. As a viewer, you are not sure of whom to trust, but you’re left yearning to find out who is willing to do what it takes to get the work done.
What to expect from OUNCES
a. Grit and Grind. What you’re watching is raw and unfiltered in the truest to the art sort of way. In watching this show, you are not a common viewer; you are a passerby, catching ends of a conversation or a neighbor eavesdropping on what the people across the street are doing. You become part of the experience for the length of the episode.
b. Mystery. There are going to be questions, but be patient while the drama unfolds.
c. Community. Yes, there is violence, expletives, and unconventional banter, but watch closely, you are getting an up close and personal view of how close bonds can extend past race and ethnic cultures. The bond is real and it shows.
What are you watching?
Here are more Web-series you may not have heard of:
Night School-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQdNnV01Iks
Makeup and Breakup the Series-- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH67jelQ8va3ZYdTzzVmwYw/videos
Caught Up-- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16MNxe93fLQ
Harlot's Web-- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZu3EM7_T88hH0YvnPSm6rg