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Prevalence Of The Web Show: How Creative Innovator Amy Rubin Is Turning 'Little Horrible' Experiences Into Comedy

Updated on April 15, 2014

"We have no idea what anyone is feeling most of the time and sometimes we're experiencing, in total isolation, what I call "little horribles.”

-Amy York Rubin

In our last series of "Prevelance of the Web Show", I discussed the little web show that became an instant hit, Awkward Black Girl. The success did not stop there for Issa Rae, the show's creator. She is working with HBO on a show very similar to that of ABG, and struck a deal with Simon & Schuster to write a book containing personal essays that will be published in 2015.

The success of Awkward Black Girl is not an anomaly. Rummaging through the plethora of silly cat videos and cute baby videos that popularize the internet, one can still discover funny smart shows. One of these wonderful discoveries is Little Horribles created by and starring Amy York Rubin. Rubin plays herself in the series, a "self indulgent lesbian" who makes poor life decisions.

Amy's poor life decisions include, ahem, for a lack of a better word, indulging herself in her car while stuck in L.A. traffic, as a man watches her moaning from pleasure in disgust and horror. Without giving too much away, I'll just say it gets worse for Amy as the episode progresses, and it's hilarious. It's also very refreshing to see a woman do something as socially unconscionable as pleasure herself in a public space in the same way that men casually do on television (Luis C.K. I'm talking to you).

Rubin created the show when realizing that "people hurt one anothers' feelings, like really badly and never realize it...We have no idea what anyone is feeling most of the time and sometimes we're experiencing, in total isolation, what I call "little horribles.” She depicted one of these moments from her real life in an episode where a woman continually comments on how beautiful another woman is, while Amy just stands there in awkward silence. It's these very small everyday interactions that make the show so relatable and so easy to laugh along with because it's situations that we all find ourselves in.

Little Horribles is nothing short of sheer comedy with a touch of heart, but not preachy or overly saccharine. Amy makes silly mistakes, like falling for someone who is not interested in her, binging on snacks at a hotel while on a family vacation, and forgetting to comfort her friend after she tells her that she's in a hospital. However, Amy is not written as completely devoid of common sense--She is well to do, intelligent, and has done interesting things like made a music video with Cher in the Middle East. We root for Amy and her poor life choices because in the end we know she's gonna be alright. She's way too smart to let the little things get to her.

Little Horribles finished its first season in 2013 and is taking a hiatus. While I wait for its highly anticipated second season, I will continue to scour the internet to find the new and up in coming web show that is sure to be the next best thing.

From Web Show to Television

Earlier I mentioned that Issa Rae is creating a series based on Awkward Black Girl for HBO, and she's not the only one to make the move from internet to television. Amy Poehler backed a female comedy duo centered on Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson playing extreme versions of themselves in Broad City. The show garnered instant fame when it aired early 2014 and before finishing up its first season, Comedy Central renewed Broad City for a second season. Broad City started off the same way as ABG did- with a camera, small budget, and a URL.

The ubiquity of web shows has opened doors for fresh new talent to create interesting and fresh stories that take us away from the same basic storylines and laugh tracks of television sitcoms. The pressure of creating shows with interesting characters and great writing is on, and television executives are realizing that the American audience is responding positively. Audiences don't want sitcoms that pander to them, but instead showcase diversity and well rounded characters instead of caricatures that depict outdated stereotypes.

Here's to hoping that the trend continues.

How often do you watch original programming on the Internet?

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    • JaneA profile image

      JaneA 3 years ago from California

      Thoughtful review. I guess I show my age when I say that I seldom look at shows on the internet - but my kids definitely use it like TV. Doubtless when a mainstream application comes along that lets me watch from the sofa I will join them!