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YouTube’s musical hallucinations show ‘Side Effects’ is heading to TV

What started as a YouTube special is now crossing to the mainstream.


Rae Votta


Posted on Apr 16, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 1:40 am CDT

A YouTube phenomenon is coming to television, as the hit series Side Effects is being converted to a 90-minute special to air on E! Entertainment April 17. But don’t worry, the series isn’t eschewing digital completely for the TV. The series will combine a television debut with a chance to air new content and continue its online legacy.

Side Effects began as a longform YouTube project, and the first installment generated 2 million views in a single week. The story follows Whitney Connolly, a 16-year-old dealing with her mother’s death and her father’s disappearance—all while on prescription medication that comes with the unlikely side effect of musical hallucinations. The show plays on YouTube’s love for cover songs, with pop hits performed as well as original songs.

The E! premiere will air as a 90-minute special, starting from the beginning of the already-aired YouTube series but also incorporating new footage that will debut as the third season of the series the following day on YouTube. The content will also be available as a digital HD download at iTunes, Amazon Instant, and other online sources. For those looking to catch up, the series remains on YouTube.

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“Great content works on any platform and at any length. Side Effects was the first time we experimented with long form content on YouTube and it was a huge success,” said Brian Robbins, CEO and founder of AwesomenessTV, in a press release. “Now viewers can choose to watch it as a movie on E!, download it or watch the third season on AwesomenessTV, In this on-demand universe, we want to engage our audience wherever they are.”

AwesomenessTV has already taken Side Effects to new platforms, launching Awesomeness Ink to publish the Side Effects story as a novel. Likewise, E! has already made major commitments to YouTube creators this year, with vlogger Grace Helbig now at the helm of her own talk show on the network. This AwesomenessTV deal is just another step in bringing the digital to the television forefront.

Side Effects airs April 17 at 3pm ET, and the new series debuts online the following day, with episodes every Saturday through May 9.

Photo via AwesomenessTV

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*First Published: Apr 16, 2015, 1:40 pm CDT