Tag Archives: webseries

Queer Web Series Worth Watching

By  Joseph Lamour

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The Summer Doldrums, as I like to call the break network television gives us from June to September, are quickly approaching. Hot temperatures and a new season of The Bachelorette go hand-in-hand, and I take that as my television telling me, “Go Outside.” But, like all couch potatoes, I just turn from one tube to another. Join me as I say ta-ta to my TV, and hello to my Macbook Pro. Below the cut are two queer web series worth watching.

This post comes with a STRONG LANGUAGE warning… for some of you. See what I mean, after the jump.

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The Racialicious TV Roundup

By Managing Editor Arturo R. García and Guest Contributor Kendra James

“Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” creator Issa Rae. Via ABC News.

Issa Rae: Well, this is how web television supporters say it’s supposed to work. Now, can Rae and Shonda Rhimes deliver?

Earlier this week, Rhimes, the showrunner behind Scandal and Grey’s Academy, sold a sitcom to ABC reportedly titled I Hate LA Dudes. On the surface, it doesn’t sound that different in tone from Rae’s acclaimed (if occasionally problematic) Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

But in going from the wilds of YouTube to Pharrell Wiliams’ i am OTHER channel and now to serving as co-executive producer and writer on a broadcast television show, Rae becomes the first notable web creator to complete the circuit. This brings pressure on multiple fronts: not only does she become, for better or worse, a test run for creators and executives looking to see how her style and fanbase translate to a “mainstream” stage, but you have to figure no small percentage of ABG fans will seek reassurance that the comedy that drew them to that show survives the migration.

On the other hand, with Rae making the airwaves not long after Mindy Kaling’s own ascension, we also have to ask ourselves: how much does progress need to be progressive? –AG

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Webseries Watch: Ask A Muslim Breaks It Down

By Arturo R. García

Yesterday we discussed the bad things that happen when people who don’t care about Islam think they got jokes. Now let’s talk about something positive–a new webseries by the National Black Programming Consortium that attempts to explain aspects of the African-American Muslim perspective.

Episode 1, seen below, deals with some of the more familiar questions re: wardrobe.

In the second episode, questions of identity take center stage, as the panelists discuss “fake Muslims,” people who come to practice their faith while being in jail, and Sharia law, a topic on which Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) weighs in, noting that it’s a topic “that people are scared to death of, but they don’t know what it is.”

America Ferrara Stars in “Christine”

Watching the first episode of “Christine,” I couldn’t help myself from cringing. This is a testament to the writer’s skills and America Ferrara’s watchability – the series of shorts follows Christine during one (seemingly endless) night of speed dating. The conversations are often uncomfortable and awkward, just like actual dating! And sometimes, it’s a bit too true to life – some of these dates, especially the rough ones, seem to stretch into eternity. And the one above, the mildly creepy set up (with a cocky guy and strange interracial asides), is both compelling and repulsive at the same time.

Ferrara’s project is part of a larger YouTube channel called WIGS – a lauded launch that is targeting women with short films featuring recognizable stars. The business side of this is fascinating:

We know what you’re thinking. How can YouTube afford to pay A-list actors to sign on for such a project? This is the beauty of it. According to Avnet, they’re being paid “very little.”

What does that mean? Essentially, the actors are getting paid the equivalent of SAG actors with all actors earning the exact same amount regardless of name or talent.

According to last year’s SAG contract summary page five, performers make anywhere from $825 for a day performance to $2,921 for weekly performances. 1/2 hour programs pay upwards of $4,600. Keep in mind these shows are several minutes. Very little indeed.

So, why would stars commit to doing something for peanuts?

Well, exposure for one. This is a unique opportunity for stars who have been out of the limelight for a while, but who still resonate with viewers (i.e. Garner and Stiles). It’s also a great opportunity for break out stars such as Caitlin Gerard in “Jan.”

Avnet says it’s also for the experience. They’re getting be a part of something that hasn’t been done before and that has the potential to be huge. Again, the snowball effect also comes into play here. Once one mega star is signed on, it’s the cool thing to do.

Black Folk Don’t: “Do Atheism”–Really?

The new Black Folk Don’t is on atheism. If you can make it through the first three minutes, there’s actually some fascinating info at 3:13, where the usual discussion on atheism takes an interesting turn. They also interview actual black atheists around four minutes in. Interestingly, many of the positions taken in the first half of the video are reasons why black atheists aren’t more forthcoming with their beliefs.

Web Shows Trek Past Sci-Fi’s Color Line

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

From Blacula to Sleep Dealer, filmmakers of color have always been interested in science fiction and fantasy. But these days in Hollywood, sci-fi/fantasy films demand big budgets, and it seems like only Will Smith and Denzel Washington are powerful enough to greenlight a genre film starring an actor of color. The rare project that pushes boundaries can often go unnoticed: stellar alien invasion flick Attack the Block won over critics but couldn’t find an audience here in the States (please see it!).

Of course, on the web, things are different. While most web series are comedies and soaps, a number of creators are bucking conventional wisdom and creating stories for the black, latino and Asian sci-fi fans.

Last month, Al Thompson’s Odessa won big at the New York Television Festival — a development deal with SyFy — and released a well-financed drama, Osiris. Odessa follows the story of a father and daughter with super powers running from the bad guys whose experiments created their abilities; Osiris follows a man who is immortal.

While those two series are among the more sophisticated series to hit the web, I’ve been noticing a string of shows over the past two years looking to break the sci-fi color line. As costs for simple special effects go down, independents can afford to simulate space ships, alien worlds and laser beams. And creators are using low-cost production to diversify the space in numerous ways, adding female leads and blending genres (horror, comedy, thriller, surrealism).

There’s an artistic tradition here. From Samuel Delany to Octavia Butler, sci-fi has long attracted society’s outsiders, who use the imaginative potential of fantasy to create utopian or dystopian worlds and interrogate contemporary culture and politics.

And the audiences are there, enough so that most high profile sci-fi TV shows and films take pains to include at least one character of color. Star Trek (TV and movies) is the classic example, and continues today with shows from Alphas and Falling Skies to Battlestar Galactica and now even Game of Thrones (look out for season two!).

Below I’ve listed what shows I could find in alphabetical order. Please let me know if I’m missing an important or great series out there!

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Web Series Spotlight: ’12 Steps’ Creator on Financing, Producing Independent Black Stories

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, cross-posted from Televisual

If you pay attention to web shows by and about people of color, you probably have come across 12 Steps to Recovery, a romantic comedy series about Parrish Diaz, a jingle composer and actor dealing with a hard break-up. In the show, Parrish’s friends decide the only way he’ll get over his ex is to do a romantic “12 step” program: go on dates with 12 different women.

From Hitch and Knocked Up to The Best Man and (500) Days of Summer, romantic comedies about men have always been popular, if less so than female-driven ones. Producers see them as a good way to get a more balanced male-to-female ratio in your audience.

What makes 12 Steps to Recovery a little different is its use of Parrish’s story to showcase different kinds of women. Viewers end up learning more about the girls than the leading man. Each episode features a new date with a different kind of stock female trope, from transwomen to Southern belles. “Not all of us women are carrying baggage,” Parrish’s friend Dani says in one episode.

The series, which has a bunch of episodes released but is still in post-production for the remaining few, re-launched on KoldCast last month.

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The Dirty Thirty (Days): The Racialicious Review of The Monogamy Experiment

By Arturo R. García

In some ways, The Monogamy Experiment is very much a comedy “in the moment.” Like many modern comedies, it hinges on ultra-dry awkwardness – so much it almost seems like a Britcom at times. And there’s a few compelling elements to this webseries, but five episodes in, it’s still not quite clear how they all fit together.

The trailer, and slight spoilers, are under the cut.

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