I’ve come to the belief that web media is the future of entertainment. With each passing day television is getting more and more irrelevant, especially with the continued subpar storytelling and whitewashing which has alienated countless fans. Web media is also more efficient as you can get a full story in an episode or short film which on average runs between 3-10 minutes. That’s ideal if you’re at work and between meetings or waiting to pick up your kids from school.
While I don’t think televisions should be getting thrown out of windows just yet for being obsolete, web media has definitely put the entertainment industry on notice. We’ve witnessed this with many television shows now being shown on the web and more than a few web shows getting network deals.
Web media has also come a long way in such a short amount of time. In addition to Sanctuary and Web Therapy, I’ve also discovered some excellent gems such as Sorority Row, Pink the Series, and It’s A Mall World among others.
We’ve also seen the unprecedented success of shows such as the Guild and Doctor Horrible.
Now while most web shows are far from perfect, one has to give credit at what these storytellers have accomplished with virtually no budgets or resources in comparison to Hollywood media.
When my buddy Ankhesen Mie forwarded me this recent article from Racialicious, I was immensely excited to discover there was quite a number of POC-centric web series out there, many of them sci-fi/fantasy.
For the past few weeks I’ve researched many of these shows and upon doing so I learned about many others. I then learned about some LGBTQ web shows that also caught my attention.
Some of these shows I previously knew about, others I learned through research, others I just happened to hear about in unrelated paths in passing over the last week or so. Of course at this point in my life, I don’t believe in coincidence.
So why did I compile the seemingly never-ending POC/LGBTQ web media post?
- It’s fun.
- I’m a firm believer in supporting marginalized media.
- I want to create a library for others who are also searching for quality marginalized and progressive media as well.
And here we go:
Osiris- “Osiris” is a new 10-episode indie scifi/thriller web series featuring gritty crime fiction, espionage and the supernatural.
The series follows the title character Osiris, a man with an eternally extended warranty on life. He can never die. If he’s shot, he comes back. If he’s stabbed, comes back. Even if he’s blown up, he comes back…in exactly 37 minutes, every time, in excruciating pain. This has been happening for over 300 years.
He’s become a cocky, tough-as-nails, suave womanizer that treats people like dirt because everyone he’s known eventually dies. All except for one person, his great great granddaughter, Paula. She’s one of the few people that know of his unique gift of immortality. She’s also one of the only people that can keep him in check.
As the series begins, Osiris is tasked to track down a missing witness in a federal murder trial, which not only unravels a conspiracy but also unveils clues to the true nature of his eternal life.
Thus far I’ve been impressed with the series. The production is polished and the acting and writing is solid (for a web series). The sexy and suave Brad James owns as the titular character and I’m hoping the show continues to improve.
Ktown Cowboys- Ktown Cowboys is a story about John Kim (Lanny Joon), a young Korean American from Richmond, Virginia, finds himself transplanted to Los Angeles’ Koreatown. Having been recently dumped by his girlfriend and with no immediate job prospects, Johnny is taken under the wing of his cousin Jason (Shane Yoon) and a motley crew of partyhoppers who are dedicated to having a good time. The cast includes Bobby Lee (MADtv), Justin Chon (Twilight), Danny Cho, Bobby Choy, Lanny Joon, Peter Jae, Sunn Wee and many more Asian Americans in the entertainment industry.
I was honestly not expecting to like this show as much as I do. The series premiere had a great hook, the characters were organic and the story (and the accompanying laughs) were solid. My best friend and I stayed in Ktown when we visited Los Angeles so this series definitely brought back fond memories.
A Demon’s Destiny: The Lone Warrior- A Demon’s Destiny: The Lone Warrior is a “Live Action Anime” web series created by Devin Rice. Full of martial arts and energy beams, the show revolves around Kennedy, a half-demon set out to save the world from the Demon Invasion. Will he and his two human companions be able to stop the end of the world? Only time will tell.
As creator, executive producer, editor, writer, director and star of the 20-ep series, Devin Rice and his hustle are to be commended. This show is clearly a labor of love. The series was inspired by anime, particularly Dragon Ball. In fact, according to the official web site, the series was created to show Hollywood what could be done with a story like Dragon Ball with a no budget.
To watch this show, you definitely have to put on your B-grade camp goggles. I’m talking Black-Scorpion/ The Guyver/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters From Beverly Hills/the original Tomorrow People/we have no budget and it’s worthy of Mystery Science theater B-grade camp goggles. So if you can roll with that, you’ll be fine.
It’s heavy on the special effects and the cheese factor and it’s clear that Rice and company decided to get together one weekend and film this series.
It has some solid martial arts scenes and overall the series is pure escapist fun.
And somehow even without a budget, it’s still light years better than Dragon Ball Evolution. Oh yes, I went there.
Robert Townsend’s Diary of a Single Mom- Diary of a Single Mom is a web based original series that chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face, such as childcare, healthcare, education and finances.
I had a heard a lot of good things about the show, and from what I saw of the first couple of eps, it definitely holds true. Robert Townsend does a good job sharing the struggles of these three different women and it was refreshing to see a struggling black heroine not be demeaned and dehumanized. Unfortunately in this day and age that seems to be asking for too much. I’m always glad to see actress Monica Calhoun doing her thing. I definitely plan to check out the rest of the series.
Episodes can be found here: http://pic.tv/shows/
Los Americans- Los Americans is an eight-part series that focuses on a multi-generational, middle-income Latino family living in Los Angeles. The Valenzuela family deals with many issues facing American families today, including: unemployment, cultural identity and alcoholism.
Starring Esai Morales, this series definitely has a lot of promise. I’ve only caught the series premiere but from what little I saw, I was most impressed. Superb acting, solid writing, it’s clear they’re definitely building towards some powerful drama in the coming eps. Some of the eps are going to be heavy, I think this is a show worth watching.
Episodes can be found here: http://pic.tv/shows/
Venice the Series- [courtesy of Wikipedia] Crystal Chappell is known for playing Olivia Spencer on the long-running CBS daytime drama, Guiding Light from 1999–2009, and for her role as Dr. Carly Manning on Days of our Lives from 1990–1993, a role she reprised in October 2009.
Chappell, along with help from her writing partner and co-producer Kim Turrisi, decided to create Venice: The Series when, in 2009, it was announced that Guiding Light would finish after more than seven decades and, thus, the romance between Chappell’s character, Olivia Spencer, and co-star Jessica Leccia‘s character, Natalia Rivera Aitoro, would end. The popularity of the couple, also known by the portmanteau Otalia prompted Chappell to create a web series so that fans could continue to watch the romance between the two play out, albeit with different character names and storylines. Although Chappell’s character in the show is an openly gay woman, the show is not a “gay web series” but rather a show that “embodies all kinds of people, with all kinds of issues”.
In August 2009, The New York Times published an article about the Otalia storyline and fans’ reaction to it, as well as information about Venice: The Series
Ms. Chappell’s ability to mobilize her online fans will help the promotion of “Venice.” Since setting up a Twitter account in May 2009, she has amassed more than 30,000 followers, robust compared to her soap peers. Ms. Chappell’s online territory has no fewer than nine Web destinations, including the Twitter accounts of her former producing partners, Ms. Turrisi and Ms. Royaltey (both who left the show to pursue other creative endeavours); “Venice” Facebook and Twitter pages; Ms. Chappell’s Web site, crystal-chappell.com and Facebook pages; and her series site, venicetheseries.com.
This series has been crazy popular and doesn’t appear to be losing momentum anytime soon. In 2011, it won the first Daytime Emmy winner for Outstanding Special Class Short Format. It’s a well executed online soap and if you’re big into romance, relationships and drama, I think this show will definitely take. I applaud Ms. Chappell for using her resources to provide a great story for queer women and I wish her and the series all the success. Also, proceeds from the show will go to various charities. More info can be found here:
Disappointing Gay Best Friend- Mikala Bierma is a little disappointed with her gay best friend Tyler Coates because he basically refuses to be her fashion accessory. This series brilliantly illustrates the nonstop BS that gay and queer men have to contend with when we, oh I don’t know, expect to be treated like human beings. And with friends like these who needs conservatives. Pro-tip: If you have engaged in any of the fails called out in this video, you sincerely need every square inch of your ass kicked. STOP IT. While the show is brilliant in calling out homophobia and heterosexism in a hilarious manner, I personally had to stop watching as it was too triggering of past experiences with dumbasses and I was about to go into a violent Red Lantern rage. That said, you should definitely check it out.
Dominion- I’m a detective by nature. It’s not just my job. It’s what I do. And the worst thing you can do is arouse my curiousity, even if I think it might just get me killed.
Dominion is a dark tale of mystery told in the classic detective noir style. It features a rich world of supernatural creatures who live side by side with humans… our own world. They prefer to stay in the shadows, the stuff of legends and myths. But one Private Investigator is finding out that sometimes the truth is more dangerous than the myths they hide.
This show had a lot promise but unfortunately it spent more energy on the build up with mini-episodes than actual episodes. I would’ve enjoyed a solid 3-4 ep miniseries and get a full story than 2 dozen mini episodes that ultimately went nowhere.
Eeazy- “What Do You Fight For After Losing Everything”? “How Far Would You Go To Uncover The Truth”? Take a journey with Eeazy and Chadwick as they try to find a killer.
I’m still watching the eps but thus far I have to say this gritty urban crime mystery drama has heart. And a little heart can go a long way in storytelling.
Lumina- LUMINA is an original web series written and directed by Jennifer Thym and starring JuJu Chan, Michael Chan and Vince Matthew Chung. Filmed on the RED One, the nine part web series is a dark, densely woven fantasy set against the sparkling backdrop of Hong Kong.
Lumina Wong is beautiful but works far too much; although she lives in a city of millions, she still feels lonely and isolated. Late one night, Lumina has a chance encounter with Ryder Lee, a handsome young man from another world that she can see in mirrors and darkened window reflections. She revels in the fantasy relationship until mirrorspy Eben Sanchez comes into her life, warning her of the treacheries of the people of the Dark Realm. Soon Lumina must choose between the safety of the world she knows and the deadly allure of the unknown.
This is hands down one of the best web series I’ve ever seen, period. My hat goes off to Ms. Thym for creating a dark and enchanting modern day fairytale. While the first episodes lay a lot of groundwork and buildup, plot twists commence around eps 6-7 and more than once I wore my WTF face while watching. The miniseries ends on a pseudo-cliffhanger but at the same time it provides enough closure that you don’t feel cheated.
Daniel Cloud Campos- I first discovered this sexy and talented actor/dancer/choreographer playing the role as the mysterious bad boy the Ilister in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Like many of his fellow LXD cast-mates, I discovered that he had more than a few projects under his belt including these amazing short films that you definitely want to watch.
Most of them can be found here:
Among them include:
And the four part Mysterious Case:
Wong Fu Productions- I happened upon this independent production company while researching Harry Shum Jr. (don’t give me that look) who stars in a few of their short films. They’re definitely worth checking out.
3 Minutes- As if being on the hit series Glee and the League of Extraordinary Dancers wasn’t enough to keep Harry Shum Jr. busy, in addition to doing some pieces with Wong Fu Productions, he also starred in the short 3 Minutes, earlier this year.
3 Minutes- http://3minutes-film.com/
Alas, not all web media is created equal and the following are a few series I simply could not abide and felt the need to give warnings to avoid at all costs.
12 Steps to Recovery- I really wanted to like this show and the premise was really promising. I was feeling the show until I got to episode 2 where they created a trans female character and used her as the butt of jokes. It would’ve been one thing if this was used as an opportunity for the main character to learn and grow and it illustrates why she’s human, but whole “ewww a dude touched me” bullshit was too much bile to deal with. Fuck that noise!
Husbands The Series- I had hoped that once Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy went off the air, we’d be rid of offensive homophobic queer minstrel shows. Looks like someone is working overtime to bring the fail back. DO…..NOT…….WANT!!!!!
This show had me seeing red and as pissed off as I was, I was even more heartbroken. Jane Espenson is the creator of the series, and as a woman whose work I’ve enjoyed and respected over the years, I truly expected better from her, especially in regards to representing gay men in a positive light.
Drama Queenz- ……………no……………just……………no……..
Status Kill- Imagine being obsessed with/addicted to social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Imagine allowing said obsession/addiction to interfere with your day job. Now imagine that your day job is an assassin. Oh yes this series goes there.
Aptly labeled the World’s First Social Network Action Hero, this three-part series was laugh out loud hilarious as it pulls no punches in mocking the social networking culture. If you’ve ever been active on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, Livejournal, etc. you will definitely appreciate the inside jokes. The writing was sharp, the production was impressive, (I was impressed by some of the eye candy featured from some of the hit men) and star Ayinde Howell delivers with priceless timing and charm.
Mortal Kombat: Legacy- We all know the story of Mortal Kombat. If you don’t, that’s okay. Google is your friend. However the creation of MKL is a story in itself. Kevin Tancharoen directed a short film entitled Mortal Kombat: Rebirth which reimagined the game’s story in a realistic way. The short film got considerable buzz and a lot of fan support online. While Warner Bros, turned down the proposal for a new movie, they greenlit the web series, Legacy.
Coincidentally enough, a new film has been green-lit and Tancharoen has been hired to direct.
This popular franchise as well as this series features multiple characters of color in leading roles, including my man Michael Jai White holding it down as Jax. Season 1 is available on Blu Ray, DVD as well as iTunes or you can watch below:
In Between Men- Four successful All-American New Yorkers who live in the gay world but don’t belong to it. This drama explores how they don’t relate to the cliches and trappings that often come with being gay.
The show is not perfect but it’s doing a lot of things right that you rarely find in gay media so it definitely has my attention. There are actually POCs that are prominently featured and I was pleased to discover that one of the main characters is actually biracial which is huge because in gay media, the racism and whitewashing is rampant. I also liked the fact that one of the characters is bisexual and that actually gets explored. The storylines are solid and they laid a lot of excellent groundwork in season one and if they continue at the rate they’re going, they can only get better. I look forward to seeing season 2 when it’s released. This show made me a fan, and given how critical I am of quality queer media, that’s saying something, a lot actually.
ROSA the Movie- ROSA is an epic sci-fi short film that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all natural life has disappeared. From the destruction awakes Rosa, a cyborg deployed from the Kernel project, mankind’s last attempt to restore the earth’s ecosystem. Rosa will soon learn that she is not the only entity that has awakened and must fight for her survival. The short-film was created entirely by young comic-artist Jesús Orellana with no budget during a single year.
There are just some things that words don’t do justice to. You just have to see it for yourself.
Dead Fantasy- is a series of fan-made CGI short action movies created by Monty Oum (author ofHaloid), starring a cast of characters from the Final Fantasy, Dead or Alive, Kingdom Hearts and Ninja Gaiden game franchises, fighting it out against each other battle royale-style in a number of different environments, including archaic ruins and modern cities.
I was blown away by Montyoum’s work and I became a huge fan of the series. Fair warning, his stories have a cheesecake fanboy feel as far as the female characters go. That said, his animation is fluid and the fight scenes are incredible. Definitely recommended as are his other shorts including Haloid: a Metroid and Halo mashup.
Legion of Extraordinary Dancers- The LXD is an online adventure. It’s a live action comic book series that bends genre like whoa. It’s dance: be it ballet, jazz, tap, B-boy, it’s acrobatics, it’s extraordinary. You can see influences of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gregory Hines in some of the performances. However most of the dancers have stated that their biggest influence and inspiration was Michael Jackson.
Not only was I floored by the series but the story behind the series itself. A web series about a group of gifted characters who discover they have amazing abilities through energy known as the Ra. Think a high quality, epic, operatic Heroes, only with an excellent plot, without the fail. The Justice League of dance might be a better description.
The plot evolves with each episode and Chu and company get more artistic and creative with the cinematography themes, composition, etc.
The series went from internet sensation to global phenomenon, primarily through word of mouth. People believed in the project, people want to see our stories and talents shared, they have also proven that diversity = success. All of the choreography and stunts are real; no special effects, no wire work, no green screens. I’m also proud to support this series because 50 percent of the sales of the official LXD t-shirt supports the work of the Invisible Children, a cause that’s personally dear to me.
The LXD is also proof of two things: Web series are the way of the future and that diversity when done right garners success.
The LXD, has a multi-ethnic cast and has consistently dominated as the most watched series on Hulu. Paramount executives have pointed to creator Jon Chu’s use of Web 2.0 and social networking (not to mention a quality product) as setting the standard and being a game changer in reaching a mass audience, execs can only dream about.
Seasons are available on DVD as well as iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix streaming.
And here we are.
And if you have any POC or LGBTQ web media recommendations, by all means list em and I’ll be more than happy to check them out.