Dan Speerin of T.O Webfest on Toronto’s thriving web series community, and we tell you what to watch
You’ve tired out your late-night Netflix options to the point where what you’re watching is just plain pathetic, YouTube has taken you into a black whole of recommendations, and you’re all caught up on your favorite pirated shows.
Toronto is home to a thriving web series community with a gold mine of entertaining, quality web content that’s made right here in our backyard.
Dan Speerin, vice president and director of communications of the Independent Association of Web Content Creators and director of communications of T.O Webfest, estimates that there are hundreds of web series being made in our city – this year’s Webfest judges saw more than 100 entries, with a huge percentage coming from Toronto.
Webisodes are typically three to 15 minutes long and entirely independently produced. “A web series tells a narrative,” Speerin says. “If you were asking me at the IWCC, since the word ‘Independent’ is in our title, that’s where we draw the line and define it because that’s what we advocate for.” Think: Broad City or Letter Kenny before they made it on television.
“Web series can really find an audience that’s underserved and make something for it,” says Speerin. “I think that’s where people are looking. The thing about the web is that you can find anything and it’s different for everyone. There are so many different niches and that’s what makes it work.”
Ready to jump in? Here are five Toronto-based web series to get you started.
Get your feet wet with That’s My DJ, with very binge-friendly episodes ranging from two to nine minutes long. A show for music and party lovers, this series created by D.W. Waterson follows two women in Toronto’s electronic music scene. It’s well-produced, well-acted, and well-written. From bitching about flaky promoters who give crappy comps, to playing a range of really amazing music, you’ll fly through this series in one sitting and be ready to go out and dance. You can watch the entire first and second season here.
If you want your mind seriously blown, Super Science Friends is a treat for adults. It’s an animated series that follows a team of super-powered scientists, Freud, Einstein, Tesla, Darwin, and Tapputi, as they travel through time fighting Nazis and renegade soviet cosmonauts. Need we say more? Get out your munchies and cancel your Friday plans. Watch it all here.
If you shamelessly watched Degrassi and you’ve been craving something more, Teenagers is for you. It even stars Degrassi alumni, such as Chloe Rose, and because it’s not held hostage by the same rules as big network television shows, it pushes the boundaries. It is provocative, sexy, and touches on any and all issues, from classic teen angst to racism, violence and sexuality. It’s addicting and has a huge following, with season two’s first episode bringing in over three million views. Get hooked before season three is released! You can watch it all here.
Following Ruby Skye, a young detective with a knack for solving mysteries, this show has to be one of the cutest on the internet. While it’s geared towards a younger audience, it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. The show is curious and delightfully funny, leaving you wondering where it’ll lead you next, with season two focusing on a haunted library. Ruby Sky P.I is a feel-good web series that is guaranteed to make you smile. You can watch all the mystery here.
A long-time favorite, this endearing drama follows a teenage girl as she struggles to come out to her single dad. It’s won a ton of awards, has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Program or Series Produced for Digital Media, and lead actress Kate Conway has been nominated six years in a row for Best Acting at the Indie Series Awards. A tale from both sides, this series touches on what it’s like from the perspective of a parent who cares too much, and a girl trying to navigate the world of homophobia and teenage life. It’s an eye-opening, must-watch show for anyone and everyone, and it’s gearing up for it’s fourth season. You can watch it all here.
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