Web series are growing as a storytelling medium

Shawna Huang

As the Internet continues its rise to power, a new form of media is becoming prominent: the web series. This new storytelling medium is gaining steam, with the number of web series and fanbases growing every day. Web series aren’t always as respected as traditional forms of media, but they generally possess the same elements as conventional television programs. They tell a story through scripted episodes, complete with cast, crew and fancy equipment. However, web series often provide certain other aspects that the current system can’t offer.

Many web series have extremely dedicated fan bases, just like those of television programs. Web series fans can often be seen stalking Tumblr feeds, reading tweets and voting for their favorites in the Streamy awards (just like the Emmys, but for web series) – practically doing anything they can that relates to their favorite show.

This level of commitment may seem practically insane, but web series only have such a devoted fanbase because of the very nature of the medium. Many web series bring the characters into our universe to make the story come alive. They create Twitter pages for their characters, giving fans a chance to observe character interactions that happen beyond the camera. Web series allow for a level of interaction that conventional television just can’t achieve, which naturally creates fans that are more committed to the story.

Web series creators utilize this fan commitment to help the medium grow. Because it is such a new form of media, web series don’t tend to get funding from big producers to support their programs. Many try get around this problem by asking for donations from their fans through Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns. Fans only support the series they truly enjoy, providing a system that weeds out the bad programs and leaves the good ones.

Without this need to cater to the masses in order to gain support and funding, web series are free to branch off and experiment with new forms of storytelling. Companies such as Pemberley Digital devote themselves to telling stories in innovative ways through web series. This company revolutionized the medium by bringing stories from classic novels into the modern world. Its projects include “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” (based on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”), “Emma Approved” (based on Jane Austen’s “Emma”) and “Frankenstein, MD” (based on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”). This form of storytelling has inspired other content creators to do the same, such as with “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy” (based on J.M. Barrie’s “Peter and Wendy”). Other popular web series include “Video Game High School”, “Riley Rewind” and “Hipsterhood”, all of which are exploring new territory by telling stories in novel ways.

Web series are quickly replacing conventional television as a form of media. Web series allow for innovative storytelling, social media interaction and fan support that the established medium just can’t offer. Will conventional television go the way of the horse and buggy? Only time will tell. While the traditional system works just fine, the new system is quickly rising in popularity. It’s hard to say whether the standard cable networks will be able to withstand the overwhelming power of the Internet.

"The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" and other web series are revolutionizing this new form of storytelling.
“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” and other web series are revolutionizing this medium as a new form of storytelling.