It is an exciting time in the world of web series! So following on from Web TV Highlights no.1 here is the second in my occasional posts about tv shows that I like on the web. Last week saw the second International Academy of Web Television Awards which took place at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Paul Kontonis, Chairman of the IAWTV released some surprising statistics about the web TV industry. Nearly five hundred web series submitted themselves for consideration for an award to the IAWTV, five times the total number of web series that were produced in 2009. In 2013 it is predicted one thousand new web series will launch. He also commented that in 2011 about US$50million was spent on original online content, but this is predicted to rise to $250million in 2013.
I like awards ceremonies, not sure why. They are usually entertaining shows to watch. I couldn't watch the IAWTV Awards live as I am in the UK as it would have been really late here but fortunately a recording of the who show is available on Daily Motion. A few of the jokes weren't that great (as ever with awards shows!) but overall it was a pretty good show and gave a useful broad picture of what is going on in the web series scene. Their nominees list is a bit of a treasure trove and it is well worth having a look at to find some great shows.
DeVanity Season 3
I know I've mentioned DeVanity before but the opening episode of season three was so good that I wanted to mention it again. Devanity, if you are not familiar with it, is a soap about a family and their crumbling jewellery empire in Los Angeles. It is a fast paced satirical tribute to the great soap operas of the 1980s such as Dallas and Dynasty with fantastic plot lines, one liners that will make you chuckle long after you have finished watching the show and glamorous costumes and settings. It is perfect television for a dull winter's evening after work and maybe shows what soaps could have been if they hadn't turned into a five times per week snorefest!
DeVanity is going from strength to strength. They have just secured a new sponsorship deal (which is why you see an advert for hair straighteners before the show) and they have been getting a lot of good coverage in the press, including a four page spread in a soap opera magazine. If you did watch Dallas and Dynasty in the 1980s you will see some familiar faces as guest stars too.
My Gimpy Life
Also from Los Angeles is My Gimpy Life a comedy web series loosely based on the real life experiences of actress Teal Sherer (who you might recognise from The Guild). The series is about Sherer's adventures as a wheelchair using actress trying to navigate the Hollywood dream and received two IAWTV awards. I really enjoyed the show and thought it was funny and really well made. Hopefully there will be another season!
It's time to leave America now and have a look at a couple of web series from other parts of the world. Marco Sparmberg's Squattertown caught my eye when @SnobbyRobot live tweeted watching it along with the show's creator as part of #WebSeriesWednesday. The series is a Dim Sum Western a concept that Sparmberg told CNN was a fusion of spaghetti westerns and the 1980s Hong Kong action movies. It is filmed on the rooftops of some of the old buildings in Hong Kong where squatter communities live. In the parellel universe of the show's plot the gap between rich and poor has grown so wide that the poor are forced to live in these communities while the rich live below.
The show is admittedly a little light on plot but its stylistic character and atmosphere are outstanding. Visually unique and paced really well the show is great to watch.
The Bloody Mary Show
Lastly I thought it would be great to mention a British web series! I think it is fair to say that the UK has not travelled very far down the road of web series adoption but there are hopeful signs that things are changing. The Bloody Mary Show is loosely based on the legend of Bloody Mary, but anglicised. This is quite an unusual show, certainly unique looking! The show is doing pretty well, it was named as one of Indie Intertube's stand out web series of 2012 and has been nominated for the 4th Annual Indie Soap Awards. It is nice to see that there is a British Web Series channel on YouTube now as well so hopefully web series made here will become a bit better known.
And the "I'm not sure about that" Award goes to....
There was one series that got a lot of critical acclaim but I wasn't sure about: Stockholm (which is named after the syndrome rather than the city). The plot of this show is that a woman is abducted by a serial killer and then they end up falling in love with each other. It is billed as a dark comedy and is performed very well but for me the bit that did not work was the woman going from being terrified of to in love with her captor, which is a problem as that is basically the plot. It felt like the story made the jump between the two states far too quickly and did not really show how that could happen or explore the complex emotions involved. The episodes were very short (the longest being four and a half minutes), even having ten minute episodes might have enabled more exploration of the plot line.