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Web Series 101: Where to find the best new shows online

Think of this list as your TV Guide for the Internet. 


Aja Romano


If YouTube is replacing television, than Web series are the new sitcoms, keeping viewers tuning in week after week.

But there’s no TV Guide for the Internet, at least not yet. So how do you go about finding new and exciting shows to watch online?

We tracked down the panelists of the “Web Series 101” panel at DragonCon to get the skinny on how and where to find the good stuff. Noted experts Suzanne Najbrt, David Speakman, and It’s Good to Be a Geek Editor Jessa Phillips each shared their tips on how to find the best Web series out there and gave the Daily Dot their personal favorites.

10 ways to find a great Web series

1) Google: Start searching ‘Best Web Series 2012.’  “You’ll go down a serious rabbit hole,” says Najbrt. “You’ll just go from more to more to more.” With Google’s massive investment in YouTube and premium YouTube channels, this is a great starting point.

2) Aggregator sites: Web Series Today and let you see what’s popular and what’s being updated on a regular basis.

3) Follow the hashtag #Webseries on Twitter. “A lot of [Webseries’] success is due to social media,” says Phillips, “because it’s so interactive. They’re out there tweeting. They’re out there on Facebook.”

4) Follow DragonCon’s American Sci-Fi Media track on Facebook: For last weekend’s panel, the panelists put together a list of recommendations in multiple genres to get you started, and you can subscribe to the page for more updates.

5) Private Web series channels: The Nerdist Chris Hardwick launched his own YouTube channel, which already has 24 separate Web series. Felicia Day’s Geek and Sundry has seven shows, including popular series The Guild and Tabletop. Kevin Smith and other celebrities are following suit.

6) Just the Story: The site offers a number of Web series for free preview, with the ability to subscribe for the newest shows.

7) The Emmy nominations: Web Series have snuck onto the list of award-winners in such diverse categories as Interactive Programming and Interview/Discussion Programming. Check out this year’s list of nominations, and see what pops up in out-of-the-way categories.  There’s also the Streamy Awards, or “The Streamys,” now in their third year, which award achievement in Web television.

8) Film Festivals: Both on the Internet and IRL, film festival have proven popular with Web series fans. If you’re in L.A., drop by the LA Web Fest. Online, check out the HollyWeb Festival and the New Media Film Festival for award-winners and more.

9) Kickstarter: Lots of Web series are crowdfunded, and it’s easy to use Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, both for learning what new projects are coming out and finding ones with lots of fan support.

10) Syndicates: Check the websites of the shows you like. Poke around and find out what host channel they use. Most likely, that host website will have more quality shows for you to peruse.

Suzanne Najbrt’s top five

  • The Guild: “It’s like a big pile of grilled cheese and tomato soup. I go to it when I need comforting.”
  • Awkward Black Girl: “It’s so non-genre, but it’s very good writing, and it’s very quick. You can do one season in about 45 minutes. You can’t go wrong.”
  • Collecting Nostalgia: “It’s just [Lucas Brown, Ashley Raburn, and Adam Collins] going to people’s homes and talking about their collections. It’s just him sitting down and talking to people and playing with their action figures. It’s very nicely done.”
  • Fresh Hell: “Brent Spiner’s Web series. Funny, sarcastic, worth watching.”
  • The Booth at the End: “It’s a guy who sits at a booth. At the end. It’s so hard to talk to people about this series because it’s so short, you don’t want to give anything away. Just watch it.”

Jessa Phillips’ top five

  • The Beauty Inside: “They’re just on episode 3, but it’s very beautifully done. It’s about a character who wakes up looking different every day. It’s very different. Not everybody’s going to enjoy it, it’s kinda dark. But it’s narrated by Topher Grace, and it’s great so far.
  • Blood and Bone China: “It’s a vampire series, but it’s set in the late 1800s, and they pay a lot of attention to the historical details. It makes a big difference.”
  • Fallout: Nuka Break: “For gamers: A bunch of fans’ re-imagining of Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Last Mans on Earth: “Two guys training you for a natural disaster. It’s part fantasy, and part of it is just them goofing off.”
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: “Definitely one of my favorites right now.”

David Steadman’s top five

  • Electric City: “Animated series featuring Tom Hanks. It’s very high quality. I think it’s geared towards older people, but I’d recommend watching it.”
  • Husbands: “My friend and niece would kill me if I didn’t rec that. It’s political, it’s funny, and it may be getting picked up for TV soon.”
  • Keeping up with the Cardassians: “It died out because of lack of funding, but it’s worth it to see even the first episode.”
  • L5: “If you like sci-fi, please watch it. I was amazed at the production values.”
  • Woke up Dead: “It’s about a guy who goes to a party, gets dosed with a party drug, and wakes up as a zombie. It’s the best zombie comedy that I’ve seen, probably ever.”

Photo via KUWTC/YouTube

The Daily Dot