I have spent the past four days watching a variety of web series for this post and oh boy...the majority of them are really, really bad. As someone with friends in the web series community, I have a vested interest in this genre. And even though feelings might get hurt, I am still writing this negative nancy post because I fucking care. I care that web series (serii?) are taken seriously - that just because the internet is a democracy and any kid with a hand held can throw something up on Youtube, make a Tumblr*, and call it a web series doesn't necessarily make it worthy of that name. Or your time. And yes, I know there is terrible tv and good tv, too, but people get paid in the television industry and in order for the web seriiii genre to become a profitable thing it needs to be better. Different, yes, but better. Still, I have an idea of the limitations and realities of what it takes to make these things. Putting together a professional project with the expectation of it being as good or better than a television show but with a budget of like, five dollars, is near impossible - I totally get that. But my god, there is still so much bad out there. Just like... so much.
In terms of web content, a few things are totally forgivable like bad lighting, bad camera work, and clumsy set design/your mom's kitchen. I wanted to include bad sound on the "forgivable" list but honestly, if I can't hear what the actors are saying even at full volume but when the music comes on I'm all "SHIT I'M DEAF" then I will stop watching. Good sound quality is non negotiable. So spend your five dollars on a boom mic, web series people. And Pro Tools. Pro Tools is five dollars right? Ugh. Might I suggest Kickstarter or IndieGoGo or even a garage sale?
As far as unforgivable web series elements go, bad acting, slow and/or sloppy editing, TOO LONG DIDN'T WATCH, and the aforementioned sound issues are just not acceptable. No one wants to see that shit except your mom. It is her kitchen after all.
There seem to be three categories of web series: High Profile (Dr. Horrible, The Guild, Funny or Die, Riese the Series etc) Lower Profile but high quality ( Solo the Series, Gold The Series) and Probably Should Not Have Wasted Money On A Website Please Next Time Just Post It On Facebook For Your Friends (WILL NOT NAME FOR FEAR OF BEING OSTRACIZED**).
Listen, I know I might catch some heat for such a negative post about something people work really hard on but again I am just saying these things because I want web seriesesesseiii (seriously, this word is problematic) to succeed. I want sponsors for everyone and health insurance and maybe even a union or something. I don't know! A kitten in every basket! A cake in every urinal! Some pot in every pot!
Anyway, here is a list of web series I would recommend watching because they are doing it right:
The Guild (Duh)
Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Double Duh)
The Legend Of Neil (NERDS)
The Jeff Lewis 5 Minute Comedy Hour (Vork from The Guild goes a bit blue)
Always Open With David Koechner (From Jason Bateman's new Production Company "DumbDumb". Seriously funny business time. At a Denny's.)
The Last Stand (From Portland! With Zombies! Great Production Quality/Acting is hit or miss but again, ZOMBIES!)
Awkward Embraces (Not perfect but I actually watched the whole series and felt invested in the characters. Plus, the sound was REALLY GOOD and everyone had pretty hair.)
Scotty Got An Office Job Episode 2 "Cake" (I really liked the song about cake or well, any songs about cake.)
Self Centered (British Sci Fi!)
And finally, a few years back Dan Harmon (Community) put together a tutorial on how to make online video for Acceptable tv. It is free on Amazon and Jack Black plays a wizard. It's very helpful.
I know I missed a ton of good stuff so please link to your favorite series in the comments.
* I just found out Tumblrtv™ is a thing! So that happened.
**Okay fine. Wage Slaves and The Free Box made me want to die.