GADZOOK FILMS Producing independent film in Seattle, Los Angeles and beyond.


Why Do (Most) Webseries Suck? part 1

Woah there, cowboy! Let me clarify. Not ALL webseries suck, silly. Just most of them. But why? And why would anybody want to jump into this game if the odds are so heavily stacked against them? In this multi-part series I'll go into some of the roadblocks facing webseries producers and how they can improve their idea to get an audience and have a successful show.

1) Most webseries suck because they lack originality.

It may surprise you to learn that a lot of people think webseries are all about out-of-work actors/filmmakers and their hilarious dating lives. If I had a nickel for every filmmaker/actor who believed their personal life would be ambitious or hilarious fodder for a show I would probably have upwards of $6.35. Yep.

While there are some good shows out there based on this premise and I certainly don't mean to lump them all together, it's a pretty tired concept. So many TV shows, movies and yes, webseries, have done this better and way before you set your pen to paper.

But this isn't the only tired concept out there. There are dozens of mockumentaries done in the style of "The Office," hundreds of series about a bunch of 20-somethings living life and dating each other a la "The Real World," or "Friends," or whatever. Again, I don't mean to cast aspersions on ALL such shows. I would gladly point you to a decent one of these... had I the time to go through the dozens of shows in this milieu.

As my friend Tom Becker of Ogre Mage puts it, these shows "poison the market." By popping up in Google searches for webseries and flooding review sites these shows form a sort of wall. They prevent the casual audience member from learning about the vast variety of web content out there by virtue of overcrowding the system.

How do these shows generally come about? My guess: The basic motto for beginning writers to "write what you know." Along with "write for what you can get" and you have the combo for a lot of terrible shows about uninteresting people in less than glamorous places. With a dearth of hastily written shows about nothing in particular it's no wonder audiences are shying away from webseries as a whole.

So what CAN you do? Taking all this into account you simply need to ask yourself "Is my story worth telling." Is it something that you need to tell, or is it just something to put your face on the map? Who would benefit, i.e. enjoy watching this? You're going to have to narrow it down from "all people ages 18-45," friend-o.

Think niche, baby. High concept. There's such a vast audience available to you via the internet why focus on an audience that is split so much already? Find a story that ignites your passion and tweak it to fit your available resources. Sure, you might not be able to do that zombie western you've always wanted, but maybe you could do that stepping stone project. The point is if audiences are rejecting your show your show probably didn't have a cohesive audience targeted in the first place. I guarantee if someone told you to watch a show about their lives you'd groan too. Unless maybe they were a time-traveling astronaut werewolf. That's something I'd watch.

You may only have access to one other friend and your only location may be an apartment (although I'd argue with you here). That's fine... it's all in what you do with what you have at your disposal.

Next week I'll go into more depth about why webseries producers fail to see the problem inherent in their shows and instead blame the medium or worse, the audience! Let me know what you think in the comments!

Posted by Dom

Comments (9) Trackbacks (0)
  1. The 20-somethings dating/in the office webseries, are the Journey of karaoke songs.

  2. Exactly. And The Collectibles is an excellent example of taking those ideas and adding a unique twist which both gives you range to tell a good story and grounds the story in something people can relate to.

  3. You pretty much nailed it. Too many web series are copying too many TV series that too many people are trying to avoid by looking for alternatives on the web and the circle continues. There are some good ones but the average consumer has to have a lot of patience to find them. Hang in their viewers.

  4. Thanks Paul. Border Guardians of Ackernon is another webseries that’s ambitious and unique. It’s content you wouldn’t normally find on TV, or even around the web. It’s grown into the space and is a testament to the power of the medium.

  5. This is, without a doubt, the most idiotic blog post (with sequel) that I’ve ever read. It’s fine to think that most web series suck, I mean I think that too. I just think maybe you might wanna check your own shit first. Plus I’m sickened at all the time you people spend dissecting and analyzing stupid shit. New movie or TV show comes out, yeah, I get it, write a review, great, it helps us know about it. What I hate is shit like this and other message boards where you’ve just got a horde of dickheads commenting on shit and analyzing obscure movies and TV shows, and it’s really just a big game of “who’s cleverer than who?” and “I’m too self-aware to ever do something shitty.” No, you’re not. None of us are. And the people that know that and still choose to do something are already 100% better than the dipshit who just sits and watches and then explains why it sucks.

    You’re one of the idiots that enter the 48 Hour Film Festival every year (I know because you said so), get runner up and then jerk each other off for the next 363 days till it happens again. No one who has a video called “Sausagefest” up gets to criticize anyone.

    “I’m gonna explain to you why web series suck. Now check out my viral clip, ‘Sausagefest’!” Yeah, keep pushing the envelope of originality with your 48 Hour Film Fest movie parodies and videos about wizards. Insufferable know-it-all fucktard.

  6. I’m looking for this “horde of dickheads” you make mention of. Do 2 comments constitute a horde? You can infer all you want about my qualifications, I don’t need to defend the work I’ve done. But you bring up an interesting point about criticism and, I believe, you meant to essentially say “take this advice with a grain of salt.” That’s pretty good advice, Robert. Thanks.

  7. You’re not giving advice, Dom, you’re pontificating. Don’t want to defend your work? Fine, don’t. Just stop acting like you know it all when you haven’t done a damn thing to even “know” about what you’re giving such big-headed “expertise” on.

    And, speaking of “damn” things, tell Angela Dezen (one of your 8 devout followers) that the Damnwells are awesome. That’s the truth.

  8. A dickhead separates himself from the horde for a fawning comment of support.

    Robert, I’m assuming you realize the hypocrisy of bemoaning “all the time you people spend dissecting and analyzing stupid shit,” while obviously taking some time to familiarize yourself with the author of the post, his body of work, and the familial relations of one of his followers. Do you pontificate online somewhere too? Or are you not interested in defending your work?

    But maybe hypocrisy doesn’t bother you, since you agree with the point of the article but decide to be a shithead and attack anyway, projecting your “know-it-all fucktard” attribute onto Dom. Seems you’ve got nothing to say other than: “You’re right…but you’re an idiot, and your videos suck.” Cool story, bro.

  9. Robert Jones: is this another pseudonym for Matt Mulhern, the King of Trolls on various Industry blogs?

    As an Actor and Producer very familiar with Dom’s body of work and expertise, I appreciate his perspective far more than the brusque, obnoxious POV…oh wait…do you have a POV? And what exactly is your expertise Mr. Jones?

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