The creators have creative freedom, can engage with global audiences directly, and the content is free. No wonder web series are exploding in popularity.
For people like Odessa Young, who’s starring in The Daughter and Looking for Grace, web series are fascinating.
“I think people are finding more confidence to put out what they have created because it’s able to be shared on such a wide platform and no one can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ‘you can’t do this’, ‘you can do that’,” she says.
“So everyone’s doing really innovative stuff.”
Comedy in particular is finding a foothold, both with Australian web series like The Katering Show and internationally with shows like Broad City. But as the list below shows, it’s not only for laughs. Drama series that aren’t afraid to take risks are also emerging on this still-relatively new format.
It can be daunting as a viewer, knowing how to find the good stuff. So in this series we’ll offer you a bit of a guide to what’s out there – both locally and internationally.
Here are six to get you started.
An Aussie web series about three friends in their 20s who can’t wait for the weekend, only to spend it trying to figure out what the hell happened the night before, it’s created by actor/writer/director Kacie Anning and producer Courtney Wise. Season 1 of Fragments of Friday got off the ground thanks to a crowdfunding campaign on Pozible, and with the help of Screen Australia funding, they were able to create a second season, with both hitting the web last year.
This Vimeo original web series is a favourite of The Daughter and Looking for Grace star Odessa Young, who also cites Broad City as one of her top picks. Created by husband and wife team Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, High Maintenance follows a nameless cannabis dealer as he makes his deliveries in New York City. Australia’s Yael Stone from Orange is the New Black, (who is currently appearing onstage in Belvoir Theatre’s The Blind Giant is Dancing), featured in one episode. On the back of its success, HBO commissioned six television episodes in early 2015, which are set to premiere this year.
This American comedy duo is a top pick of Australian online sensation Aunty Donna, who tip their hats to the well-written and character-fuelled sketches by New York University graduates Brian McElhaney and Nick Kocher. They’re not the only ones with many of their videos getting upward of 1 million views.
This six-part comedic web series was created by actor/writer Maria Angelico with the help of Screen Australia funding and follows self-described “try-hard” Sophia – a 20-something who enrols in dance therapy classes to help her navigate relationships, work and life.
A mockumentary about the members of punk-rock outfit The New South Wales as they navigate the Sydney music scene while wearing gaffer tape over their nipples. It’s been compared to This is Spinal Tap, it also features guest appearances from guest appearances by the likes of Kirin J. Callinan, and members of Palms and Sticky Fingers. A second season is currently in development with the help of Screen Australia funding.
Produced by Jill Soloway of Transparent, this six-episode web series created by writer/director/star Jessie Kahnweiler made its premiere at Sundance Film Festival before being available online in full. It follows a woman also named Jessie who’s trying hard to become a feminist YouTube star, while also struggling with bulimia, the demands of her mother and a drug addict ex-boyfriend.
A Nike-branded web series commissioned by the athletic-gear giant is to reach out to young women – and the result is a sweet scripted series that’s raking in the views. It focuses on a pair of interracial, adopted sisters, who are complete opposites and make a bet on New Year’s Eve. Sporty Lily, the star of a popular YouTube fitness vlog, has to find three real friends, while the recently unemployed Margot, must start a fitness channel and get 1,000 subscribers.