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Web Shows Worth Watching
Although most of the stuff that ends up online makes me scrunch up my face like I've eaten bad tuna, every once in a while I stumble across a real gem that makes the whole painful process of websurfing worthwhile.
In this hub I've collected five of my favorite web series for your edification and entertainment. Most webisodes are very short, in the 3 to 10 minute range, so it's easy to take in an episode on your lunch break or during any other downtime in your day. Here are five webshows that really are worth watching.
Most people are aware of The Guild by now, and it's no wonder: it's probably the most successful webshow ever created. (You can find it on YouTube.)
The Guild is about a guild (a group of players who work together as a team) of World Of Warcraft-like online gamers who agree to meet in real life at the behest of the show's star, writer, and producer, Felicia Day.
At the beginning of the series, Felicia is having a bit of a meltdown, a condition which never really seems to resolve itself in spite of her best intentions. The characters are over-top and quirky in a lovable and (somehow) believable way and have a great group chemistry which makes every episode memorable and frequently LOL-worthy.
If you are a fan of Big Bang Theory you'll probably like The Guild which relies on many of the same nerd culture tropes but does so in a more spontaneous and (in my opinion) more authentic way. If you're going to watch one web series, The Guild is the one.
The Daly Show
The Daly Show (not to be confused with the Daily Show) is still in its first season and it is already responsible for at least one Internet meme: being 'a little less douche'.
Tim and his son Sam Daly are the stars of the show, with Sam being forced into the position of the sane man trying to cope with his father's eccentric--and hilarious--flights of fancy. The humor is tight and well-suited to the web genre.
The Daly Show already regularly stars other celebrities (Taye Diggs, Nathan Fillion, etc.) and has top-notch production values, acting, and writing. If you're looking for a good--if odd--laugh, this show is definitely 'a little less douche'. Like the other shows in this list, you really have to see it to appreciate it.
Bandwagon is the brainchild of former long-time Buffy supporting cast member Emma Caulfield (remember Anya and her adorable fear of bunnies?).
Bandwagon is about Emma's quest to do something worthwhile with her life by helping others. In her attempts to 'do good', Emma exposes her unconsciously narcissistic and self-interested motives and the ego-centric and frequently ignorant character of the people around her.
Bandwagon is surprisingly smart and funny in a clever and often cringe-worthy way reminiscent of the early episodes of the Office. The humor is understated but effective and does an excellent job of reminding us how unattractive our self-serving agendas can be. If you like sharp humor and comedy that isn't force-fed to you on a laugh-track, Bandwagon comes highly recommended.
Hey Ash, Watcha Playin'?
Hey Ash, Watcha Playin'?, or HAWP, is about Anthony and Ash Burch, a brother and sister team of game critics who use the pretense of a game review as a frame for engaging in bizarre and frequently surreal activities. Anthony plays the role of a reasonable and thoughtful game critic and serves as a perfect foil for his sister Ashly who is a sociopath who indulges in activities which can often only be described as psychopathic.
HAWP, which is in its fourth season, is very hard to explain to non-gamers, but if you're a hard-core gamer the countless references to obscure game tropes, the exquisite portrayal of a caricature of an anti-social gamer, and the sheer, unhinged creativity of the show makes it well worth the watch. The only thing I can think of that really comes close to this level of sheer insanity is the 1990s animated classic Ren and Stimpy.
Chad Vader ran for three seasons from 2006 to 2009 and is about Darth Vader's younger brother Chad, the night manager at a grocery store.
Chad's struggle to achieve the position of day manager is at once epic and pathetic and casts into brilliant relief a character that manages to be simultaneously awkward and impressive. Although the production values are quite low, a few of the jokes fall flat, and the acting is often painfully amateurish, Chad Vader manages to rise above the sludge of internet banality to the level of genuine comedic interest and entertainment.
Chad Vader is really one of the pioneering shows on the Internet and one of the first series that stood out to me as being a real show rather than a series of random videos. Watching Chad, I couldn't help but be reminded of Clerks: while the humor is scat-free, there is a real feeling of something new and different being attempted and a willingness to fail in order to be funny. While it doesn't always succeed, when it does, it's pure comedy magic.