Published: NYU Press, 2018
Before HBO’s hit show Insecure, Issa Rae’s comedy about being a nerdy black woman debuted as a YouTube web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, her response to the absence of diverse black characters on the small screen. Broad City, a feminist sitcom now on Comedy Central, originated as a web series on YouTube, developed directly out of funny women Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s real-life friendship. These unconventional stories took advantage of the freedom afforded outside the traditional television system: online.
Open TV shows how we have left “the network era” far behind and entered the networked era, with the web opening up new possibilities for independent producers, entrepreneurs, and media audiences.
Based on interviews with writers, producers, show-runners, and network executives, visits to festivals and award shows, and the experience of producing his own series, Aymar Jean Christian argues that the web brought innovation to television by opening up series development to new producers, fans, and sponsors that had previously been excluded.
Online access to distribution provides creative freedom for indie producers, allows for more diverse storytelling from marginalized communities, and introduces new ways of releasing and awarding shows.
Open TV is essential reading for anyone interested in the changing environment of television and how the internet can inspire alternatives to what’s on TV tonight.