Web Series Can Be Wobbly

There are a lot of web series with LGBT characters. I have a book with hundreds that I’m working through, as well as a list of another fifty that we’ve yet to add. So I have to make a confession.

I don’t watch all of them.

Some I can’t watch, because they don’t exist online anymore. But more I don’t watch because they’re just bad.

Where It Goes Wrong

There are some obvious problems with a lot of web series. Acting, writing, and production quality are all seriously common issues. And you can generally only have two. Even when a show is lucky enough to get great actors and writing, the quality of the filming is a huge issue.

Take, for example, Carmilla. I love this show. It’s fun and funny and well written and well acted. But the production values? Why do you think we rarely saw fight scenes? Or vampires with, you know, fangs? The same holds true for Riley Parra (another great supernatural show).

All this boils down to one thing.

Money.

It’s Not All Money

Okay, it’s not actually all about the money, but a lot of it is.

Money leads to better filming and better quality of the final product. Money leads to paying actors, which inspires better people to join a show. Money leads to better equipment, better post production, better writing. If you get paid, you don’t have to worry about working a job and writing in the free time you have, which improves the writing. Same with acting and directing and everything else.

But even besides the money, the acting on web series, even when it’s by experienced actors, can be a bit odd. And that is because a web series has a totally different feel to a traditional TV show. A number use the ‘vlog’ format, of a static camera and the ‘leaving a video for friends’ concept. Those shows that break the format are usually recorded by iPhones and other non-professional devices.

The simple change from camera to computers and phones alters how one presents a performance. The way and matter an actor projects is different on TV and on stage. It’s different when you see a single camera or a multi camera project. The way you position yourself for the camera changes completely, and the way you pace your lines, overlapping or not, has to be different.

It’s not something everyone has experience with.

Quality Concerns

The combination of those things, money and experience, has led to the precarious world of web series. They’re just not there yet. The quality varies wildly from the excellent to the “Oh god, do I have to watch this?” Unlike the early days of TV, and the horrible garbage of 80s and 90s sitcoms, web series can be made by anyone of any skill level. And it shows.

This isn’t always a bad things. Sometimes a series hits its groove and becomes amazing. Like the second season of The Adventures of Jamie Watson (and Sherlock Holmes) took a sharp turn into awesome. They freed themselves of the vlog and mastered cuts and audio. It was amazing. Once in the new format, the actors began to excel and rise to the task. Getting to watch the growth was impressive and I felt as delighted as I did watching the actors from One Day At A Time grow.

Not all shows are created equal, however, and not all web series rise to the challenges.

The Future Is Bright

At first, web series were made by experienced actors daring to reach out in a new way. Then everyone realized they could it. Of course traditional production companies got in the mix. But at its heart, web series were stories being told by people in new ways, the ways that the traditional TV shows never would.

For that alone, I think that web series will find their footing and we’ll see more and more good quality arrive. People will tell more and more stories that want to be told, and they’ll tell them better and better. Because the best art comes from those who dare.

All that has to happen now is they need to secure funding in non-traditional ways, and the world is the oyster of web series.

About Mika Epstein

Mika has been deep in the fandom world since she could say 'Trekkie.' With over two decades experience in running fansites and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

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