I’m asking, not (just) as a creator to another creator, but a fan to other fans. What about web series, as a form & community, stokes your excitement? What makes it different, and in some ways better, than TV and film?
A few things for me, that draw me in as a viewer (but also as a writer, ha)…
Theatricality: The average TV scene is 2 minutes. Anything longer is, except in rare cases, a big no-no. Whereas web series, especially those who do 5-6min episodes composed of a long scene, can run between 4 and 6 minutes for an average scene. As someone who loves that kind of dynamic, evolving scene (as opposed to being stripped down to the most basic nuts & bolts for TV-style storytelling), it’s a delight. The long scenes are just one of a few elements that allow web series to actually feel more akin to indie theatre than TV: dialogue-driven, microbudget, and even the ‘vlog style’ at its most basic more emulates a theatre’s stage than the coverage cameras of traditional TV.
Elasticity of Form: Kinda connected to the above but from a different side: episodes & scenes can be as long as they want to be, rather than getting shoved into a TV cookie-cutter pattern. You can have episodes that are A MINUTE LONG! You can have scenes that are FIFTEEN MINUTES LONG! As long as the creative team is following their creative instincts to make the best scene, episode, whatever without being hemmed in by institutional assumptions about structure. Now, while this means a lot of shows come out either flabby or underbaked, alas, it also means there can be brilliant shows that actively turn their backs on established formal norms. Which is neat!
Representation: This is the big one I’ve seen for a lot of people: web series find it a lot easier to have diverse casts than mainstream TV shows. Rather than a couple tokens, in web series you regularly see series that are composed of marginalised folks throughout. Gods know, I like being able to see LGBT leads in works that aren’t about queerness; wake me up when a TV show manages that stunning feat alone. Meanwhile, there are whole lists of new LGBT web series every YEAR. It’s great.
Young Creators: While I’m not necessarily biased towards young creators, I do think it’s awesome that - unlike TV and most film - web series has a significant place for young creators in its ranks. Hell, the literary-inspired web series genre is pretty much composed of young women creators! How cool is that?? Which isn’t just good training for overlooked creator groups, but allows there to be shows that are genuinely youthful. 15 year olds writing themselves, instead of fogies in their mid-twenties and older (hi!) trying to emulate those voices and only occasionally succeeding.
So… what draws YOU to web series?