Why are we so into Peer Production, Indie Video, Web Series, Digital Content, or whatever you – and we – want to call it?
This is why:
by Michelle Regalado
There are many potential paths to network television, and one of the more popular methods these days is to earn an online following first. Here are 9 shows that began on the web and then transitioned to the (other) small screen.
1. Broad City
The Comedy Central series, created by and starring Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, follows two young best friends navigating their way through everyday life in New York City. The show first gained popularity online, with Glazer and Jacobson producing two seasons of the then-web series from 2009 to 2011. The series transitioned to the small screen after Amy Poehler caught wind of it and decided to executive produce a TV version of the show, helping it find a network.
Broad City first made its small screen debut early last year and has since become enough of a hit to earn both a second and third season renewal, the former of which only just premiered in mid-January.
2. Web Therapy
The improvisational comedy series, starring Lisa Kudrow as therapist Fiona Wallace, debuted in 2008, winning a Webby Award for Special Achievement: Outstanding Comedic Performance in 2009. In 2010, Showtime announced plans to adapt the online episodes for broadcast on television, with extra scenes being shot and added to each installment.
Despite earning mixed reviews during its first season, the show was renewed. The second season earned a far more positive critical reception, as did the third. The show is now wrapping its fourth season, which included celebrity guest stars like Jon Hamm, Billy Crystal, and Alison Janney.
3. Ugly Americans
The animated sitcom follows the life of Mark Lilly, a social worker employed by the Department of Integration in an alternate reality version of New York City that’s inhabited by monsters and other creatures. The show began as a web series by Devin Clark, entitled 5 On with Alan Whiter. Writer David M. Stern (The Simpsons) then helped convert it into a television show, with Comedy Central premiering the first season in 2010.
The show ran for two seasons from 2010 to 2012, before getting canceled.
4. Drunk History
The series, created by Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner and featuring an inebriated narrator struggling to recount an event from American history, first launched on Funny or Die in 2008. Comedy Central then picked up the series, with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay as the show’s executive producers.
The series made its television premiere in July 2013, with a second season the following year. Last summer, the channel announced the show had been picked up for a third season, set to air at some point this year.