Boob Tube: Web Television and Web Therapy
You guys should really be watching Web Therapy. Lisa Kudrow’s experimental pseudo-improvisational web series, which she debuted in 2008, is now beginning its second successful season on real live cable. (Showtime — the same network behind super awesome shows like Weeds, Dexter, Shameless… need I go on?)
Creating television shows to be broadcast exclusively online is nothing new. The first web series came out in the late 90’s. But, back then, the masses were still trying to figure out something called “e-mail” so you can imagine that the fan bases were pretty small.
Now, though, a huge portion of television viewing occurs online. Yes, the most popular shows are still broadcast on television networks, but so many people are much too busy (or in my case, too lazy) to schedule themselves to watch something at the same time every week. I don’t even bother taking the time to DVR anything anymore; fast forwarding through all those commercials? No thanks.
Since television networks have not yet been hit by the internet-driven financial crises of the other art industries (music, books), I have to assume that some of you freaks are still watching television on television. My sincerest thanks for that, btw, since someone needs to provide the eyeballs to watch all those commercials which fund the production of my favourite shows.
There is still no denying that television viewership is increasingly moving online. Even septuagenarian Larry King has figured that out. But as much as I love the word “Webisodes,” we all still call it television. Clearly, traditional television networks are still the most dominant force in the industry.
So, in a weird twist of backwards progress, the ultimate validation for a web series is to be picked up and turned into an actual television series. The number of web shows that have had this honour is shockingly small; Wikipedia only knew about four (Web Therapy, Children’s Hospital, Sanctuary and Burbank). And since I certainly can’t be expected to know anything Wikipedia doesn’t, I will conclude that four is the number.
What I do know (I do know some things) is that you should be watching Web Therapy. Lisa Kudrow is way funnier than you could’ve guessed from watching Friends. The guest stars are also exceptional. I would list them here, but there is no way I could do the roster justice. Who would I start with? Meryl Streep. Yeah, probably her. Kudrow has also brought on Courtney Cox, David Schwimmer, Rashida Jones, Jane Lynch, Julia Louise-Dreyfus, Rosie O’Donnell and the list continues. The short web modality (a joke for those of you who have already treated yourself to an episode or two of Web Therapy) allows for the easy participation of these high-profile and otherwise very busy stars.
Whether you watch it online, or watch the television version doesn’t really matter. Both are great. I personally watch the television version online. How is that for confusing?