High Maintenance (Vimeo)
Recently Vimeo announced that it would fund six upcoming episodes of High Maintenance. It’s a step towards Vimeo attempting a Netflix-like model, but more importantly, it’s a big vote of confidence for the web series. In each episode of the critically acclaimed show, which has a weed-delivery guy at its center, we get a funny, delightful glimpse at the life of a unique character.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (YouTube)
Just when you think that you’re over Pride and Prejudice adaptations, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries pulls you right back in. This creative, web-based version of the Jane Austen novel ran for an impressive 100 episodes. The series centers on Lizzie’s video blog as she documents her major life changes and the friends and family who surround her.
Shellshonic Shag-o-vision (YouTube)
The Brooklyn musical duo Shellshag are often praised as one of the most creative bands out there — just check out their light-up pyramid amp — and they’ve recently extended that creativity to a web series. Shellshonic Shag-o-vision, available on Don Giovanni’s YouTube channel, is a Saturday morning talk show (but with a set that looks straight out of The Science of Sleep) and features a bunch of great musicians like Marissa Paternoster, Laura Stevenson, and Mikey Erg.
Remember the animated Recess? Well, The Yard is similar in that it takes place in the schoolyard, but it goes way deeper. This mockumentary takes on the mob mentality and politics of an elementary school’s schoolyard. It’s often described as The Wire or The Sopranos in the fifth grade, and that’s basically all the incentive you need to watch it.
East Los High skips a few years from the schoolyard and goes to high school — specifically, an East Los Angeles high school. The show, which boasts an all-Latino cast, follows many of the normal conventions of a high school teen drama but puts the spotlight on characters that are usually relegated to background or sidekick status on broadcast networks.
And here Hulu takes on college (really, you should just watch these three shows in this order). Fresh Meat is a British comedy-drama that airs on Channel 4 but was unavailable in the United States until Hulu picked up the rights. The charming (and sometimes heartbreaking) show was about kids living off-campus is one of the few TV series about college that get it right.
If you’re like me, then you’ve been experiencing strange phantom-Broad City pangs every Wednesday night since the first season finale. Fortunately, the original Broad City web series (and a bunch of other cool, funny videos) is still available for your viewing pleasure.
Last week, Comedy Central ordered Idiotsitter to series. The show will premiere on the network sometime in the future, but it’s not exactly a new series. Idiotsitter, about a young woman who babysits another young woman on house arrest, originated as part of CC:Studios. The hilarious six-episode web series — which also features TJ Miller and Stephen Root — is available to watch online, so you can brag about loving it before the TV series begins.
Not to sound hyperbolic, but one of the worst things in the entire world is the fact that My Mad Fat Diary isn’t available in the United States. It’s the honest, accurate, and utterly devastating teen drama that I’ve been desperately craving. It tackles mental illness, body insecurities, and everything else, with a soundtrack full of Brit-pop. Every episode is more beautiful than the last. The entire series — two seasons — has been uploaded to YouTube, though you might have to do some digging for a few.
Teachers’ Lounge (MTV Other)
Not many people know about MTV Other, but it’s basically a site for weird web series and short videos. Everything on it is miles better than what the network actually airs on television. A standout series is Teachers’ Lounge, even though it’s only three episodes long, centered on a group of perpetually hungover teachers finding solace in the teachers’ lounge.