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Not having a TV might be a good thing afterall. Since I’ve moved to the East Coast and become a true “wanderer”, I haven’t been able to keep up with my Guilty Pleasures of the Tube and have been looking elsewhere for my entertainment. Luckily there’s plenty of great writing, acting and laughs on the internet. I’ve gotten into the various webseries that are offered on places like Vimeo and Youtube, and not surprisingly they offer something that TV networks don’t. Diversity, Different Perspectives, and Realism. There are four series that I’ve learned to love over the past few months that all offer something unique and offer a look into a lifestyle that is generally not caught in the mainstream media. Here’s a look at the ones that have been keeping me entertained.
Currently on it’s First Season, Andrea Lewis stars and writes ”Black Actress” a series about Kori who is getting back into the acting field after a brief hiatus. She auditions and takes acting classes with a bit of resentment towards her ex-boyfriend who has “Made It” in Hollywood and she’s fighting to make a name for herself. The show chronicles the headache’s and hilarity of going through countless auditions and the crazy, arrogant and clueless people one might encounter on those calls.
It also paints the picture of a beautiful and quirky woman filled with insecurities and doubt but trying to mask it with a false-confidence that eventually is broken down bit by bit by a potential love interest Romeo. The show does a great job of highlighting what it takes to even be considered as a Black Actress these days, but is also really funny with it’s kooky supporting characters like the hilarious best friend Izzy and the strange and ratchet encounters at auditions and in Acting classes. As an added bonus, familiar Black Actresses like Vanessa Bell Calloway and Tatyana Ali book end the episodes with their pearls of knowledge about being a Black Actress in an industry that doesn’t always value them.
“Black Actress” just aired their 4th episode Tuesday so it’s not too late to get all caught up.
“Black Actress” can be seen on YouTube via Issa Rae’s channel, and Issa Rae is the genius creator/writer behind one of the funniest web series I’ve caught “Awkward Black Girl“. The series (which will become a show on HBO) is hilarious because it points out all the awkward and self-conscious tendencies people have but don’t talk about. Like the feeling of being alone at a party and not knowing what to do, or seeing someone in your office hallway more than once and not knowing how to interact that third and fourth time. Through all of J’s awkwardness, and having to deal with her idiot staff at her meaningless sales job, a nice love triangle blooms which keeps the show intriguing.
More than the love story, the series is Real. It picks up on things that happen in real life to real people and doesn’t sugar-coat anything for any specific audience. In two seasons, I personally have related so much and have found similarities in characters on the show in characters I have worked with or known. The series has a multi-cultural cast which shows that even though “Black” is in the title, the “Awkward” part stands for any race or background. “Awkward Black Girl” is a show that is very much needed, with J being a main character that is not often seen on mainstream TV we get to see that in our differences we all have the same types of insecurities and awkwardness in us. We are so happy for Issa Rae and can’t wait to see what the series will become on HBO.
Another hilarious webseries that breaks down stereotypes is “The Guild“, a show set out to prove online gamers come in all shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds, and varying degrees of insanity. The series, which started in 2007 and completed 6 seasons this past year, centers around Codex (played by the creator and writer Felicia Day) a woman who uses the “World of Warcraft”-type game as an outlet to get over her recent emotional breakdown. She ends up meeting up with, and getting closer to, her local ‘Guild’ members which range from the delusional stay at home mom Clara, the overly-frugal and deranged Guild leader Vork, and the newly independent and proud stalker Zaboo who clings to Codex to the point where she develops feelings for him.
This series is great, for one, each episode is really short so watching all 6 seasons should only take a few hours. It does show that gamers like this, while invested almost obsessively with the game, do have different personalities and different lives and aspirations, and each character here is funny in their own way. It’s also great to watch all 6 seasons to see not only how the relationship between the characters grow, but also how the budget increased and we get to be more IN the game as viewers. “The Guild” is great because it gives us a peak into the lives of people we might write off as nerds, and with the show we see that they are more than that. Well sometimes.
Notice all of the aforementioned series are created and written by women, another thing that makes entertainment on the web that much more exciting, it’s giving opportunities and voices to and from people that seldom get a chance in the Mainstream machine.
The final series is by and about Gay men, “The Outs” is written, created and starring Adam Goldman and it follows a former couple a few months after their break up. Goldman stars as Mitchell, who is presented as the happy-go-lucky guy who is so quirky and funny you want to love him. Meanwhile Jack (played expertly by Hunter Canning) is the ex-boyfriend, introduced as a brooding almost self-destructive and gloomy guy who you want to just slap and say in your best Cher voice “Snap Out of It!!”. The series follows the two as they start to form lives without each other. One finds an uncomfortable peace in a new friend, and the other slowly learns to see his old friends for what they really are.
The series starts out and the viewer might think they know where it’s headed, some of the characters seem plucked from Network Sitcoms, but the wonderful writing pulls back those superficial layers and exposes the reality of relationships in general and living in the Gay world. And in the end (slight spoiler alert), the viewer is happy for the characters and stands with them in their uncertain futures. The series is funny, dramatic, real and quirky just like real life. I personally felt the writing was amazing, it revealed information in such a genius way, and it also kept the viewer intrigued and entertained. Hopefully ”The Outs” comes back with a second season.
So there you have it, the webseries I have been caught up in the past two months. “Black Actress” is keeping me occupied right now, but I’m sure if I did a good search I could find a bunch of others. It’s just great that it has become so easy for these types of shows to be put out publicly, because like I’ve said before, we need diversity on the screens. Not just racial diversity, but we need to see different perspectives of the country just to show us that we have a lot of the same similarities even with all of our differences.