29 July 2012

Webseries to Watch: Internet Icon

My daughter C1 has been begging me for weeks to check out a webseries called Internet Icon. She kept saying to me, "You will really like it! This show is just like real TV!" So since I had already planned a lazy Saturday of coupon cutting and crocheting, I figured this was the best time to catch up on the show. I've also been toying with the idea of blogging about webseries, so I might as well get my feet wet with this one.

Internet Icon is a reality competition show that originally aired every Tuesday and Thursday on YouTube at 8p EST. Since these aren't live streams, I think the term "aired" more accurately means that the videos are posted at those times each week. The show is part of the YOMYOMF Network, which is one of the YouTube channels that got an influx of Google cash this year to help improve their production values.

If you have watched shows like Project Runway or Top Chef, then the format of Internet Icon will be familiar to you. A slate of 10 YouTube content providers compete in video-making challenges. For instance, the first challenge was to make a video that used five words from a set list. On Tuesday, a 15-minute video of the creative process is posted, then on Thursday a longer video of the judging process is posted. There is also a separate playlist of the actual videos that the contestants created, in case you want to see any of them in full. I would recommend checking out The Fu Music's "Coming Home" video even if you don't watch the show.

I've watch a lot of competition shows and this one has elements that make it stand out for me. The lack of false tension-building and hyperbole is refreshing. From the very start with the audition process, the judges don't waste any time when it comes to eliminating people. One of the judges, Christine Lakin, is an actress who has been in the entertainment industry since she was 11 but the other judges are internet folks. When I see them laughing or being moved by a video I don't doubt their sincerity because they are average people who happen to like making videos in their spare time. Another thing I like is that the viewers are given more a glimpse of the judging process. When one judge says something like, "This video lacked focus", the viewer knows which video is being discussed. Other shows deliberately keep the judging discussion vague to build up more drama. I appreciate the straightforward approach this show is taking.

Although there is a bit of tension between the contestants from time to time, this isn't Big Brother or Survivor that you are watching. The grand prize -- $5000, a European vacation, some digital gadgets, and some meetings with industry people -- is big enough to work for yet small enough that the contestants don't mind helping each other. I've enjoyed my share of backbiting and shocking twists on reality shows, but bad behavior has almost become the norm these days. That makes a show where the main focus is on the work all the more satisfying.

Internet Icon has been going on for seven weeks but there is still time for you to catch up. Right now they are down to the last four contestants, and the viewers will be able to vote when they get down to the last two. Not only will you get a fun reality competition show but also a look into the YouTube world that has captivated many of the teenagers around you.
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