Husbands and the Wild West of Web Series

“…you’re peeking at a future-of TV, of America.”

-Ira Glass of This American Life as prominently displayed on the homepage of Husbands

If you haven’t been watching Husbands, a web series created by TV vet Jane Espenson and Brad “Cheeks” Bell, I am not only open to forgiving you, but I will wait all of the  30-ish minutes it will take you to watch the first season and the first two of three episodes of Season 2 which have gone live up until this point in time. Done now? Okay, great! Fresh, charming, more jokes than you can handle in one viewing, right?

The reason I might be open to forgiving someone for not seeing Husbands until now is that in many ways the web is still a bit like the wild west when it comes to web series staking claim to audiences. There are lots of pioneers, some, like Husbands that have become more successful than others, but getting settlers from the east to come and take up permanent residence in your new territory can be challenging.

Unlike television, an ever-present fixture in the living room-the modern day equivalent of the burning campfire, the sprawling, multi-faceted nature of the internet does not possess the same capacity for discovery of new material. There is no direct equivalent for channel surfing on the internet, no TV guide to browse, no built in seasons-times designated for the debut of new material. If web series is the new television-and indeed there is much evidence to support this-how can we make it easier for people to find web series they might like?

There are countless ways one can find a web series today, through various social networks, word of mouth conversations, YouTube spirals, news articles (if the series is lucky) but if someone wants to wholly embrace this burgeoning medium as a substantive form of entertainment, the first step shouldn’t be so difficult. There is certainly movement toward a comprehensive experience-Web Series Channel comes to mind-but it’s still in a nascent stage. I think a more radical change is needed. For web series, it’s in creators’ best interest to carve out new shared territory where mutual discovery benefits all.

Right now, the best way to finding new web series still appears to be following the careers of your favorite artists and the recommendations of those select few individuals whose artistic opinion you value most dearly, but the collective and individual successes of web series will necessitate a substantial evolution of the platform. With Husbands already bursting the seams off the medium with a digital comic on the horizon, its trajectory-along with similar successes like The Guild-will  have a significant bearing on where others will go. Simply an exclusive channel for web series already seems like it would be inadequate.

It’s clear that the medium or platform through which stories are told will continue to become less significant than the stories themselves. As the public becomes more comfortable with cross-media storytelling, more storytellers will expand westward seeking out the next frontier of audience experience. Build a good story, and they will come; we should do all we can to help them find the way.

If you need more of a Husband fix before the third and final episode of Season 2, you can check out several behind the scenes videos here, one of which includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by yours truly. I use the word “cameo” loosely-I’m eating lunch in it-but meal time is really important during a long day on set.

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