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What You See Isn’t What You Get: February 2016’s VOD and Web Series Picks

What You See Isn’t What You Get: February 2016’s VOD and Web Series Picks

February’s picks for VOD features and web series showcase new sides of seemingly familiar protagonists.

 In "The Skinny," actress Jessie Kahnweiler plays a fictionalized version of herself to expose the existential contradiction of living with an eating disorder. From the outside, Jessie seems carefree and strong, but in private, Jessie’s bulimia tears apart her relationships with her boyfriend, her family and herself. But don’t let the subject matter fool you; this show is honest, funny and worth a watch. Meanwhile, "Quirky Female Protagonist" literally flips the script by having its characters say aloud the common rom-com tropes and script cues the series is using. It’s an unusual format, but when the series introduces a romantic storyline in the second episode  — it is a rom-com, after all — the series really shines. It allows viewers to see the bones of the genre, without masking its magic.

"An African City" centers on a group of women traveling back to Ghana from America, attempting to find love and happiness in the city of Accra. The show is rife with glamour and romance, telling a warm-hearted story of returning home after a long time away. In "Get Some!" protagonists Sam and Viv attempt to dispel the idea of marriage as boring by keeping their sex lives alive and their relationship vibrant. The couple discuss sex with a refreshing frankness, proving old relationships never have to grow stale. Finally, Aidy Bryant’s "Darby Forever" shows a new side to the comedian. Bryant’s character, Darby, is unlike the larger than life characters she usually plays on "Saturday Night Live." The film allows Bryant to move on from an ensemble role to taking on the role of leading lady with great success.

Here are our picks for this month’s women-centric VOD and web series releases.

Web Series:

The Skinny – Created by Jessie Kahnweiler

You may have seen Jessie Kahnweiler’s YouTube video, in which she attempts her hardest to get arrested and fails. The short film’s statement on white privilege is powerful and played with sharp humor. It’s fitting, then, that the web series "The Skinny" begins with this video, giving us a contrast between Kahnweiler’s bombastic YouTube persona and the "internal tornadoes" of the fictionalized Jessie she plays on the web series. In the pilot episode, Jessie’s newly sober boyfriend leaves her, prompting an emotionally fueled food binge that is filmed with admirable skill — it is funny and excruciating at the same time. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the series, which balances moments of humor with the painful reality of living with an eating disorder. Watch all episodes of "The Skinny" on Refinery29’s website.

Read Women and Hollywood’s Sundance interview with Kahnweiler about "The Skinny."

Quirky Female Protagonist – Created by Aliee Chan

Taking cues from TV history’s greatest sitcoms like "Sex and the City" and "That Girl," "Quirky Female Protagonist" lovingly lampoons the formula of the romantic-comedy genre by arranging every two-minute episode (there are six total) using common script cues as dialogue. If you’ve been following Hollywood producer Ross Putnam’s Twitter account @femscriptintros, you’re already familiar with the ridiculous ways women are described in scripts. "Quirky Female Protagonist" goes even farther in exposing how a vast majority of female-driven comedies rely only on tried-and-true (and really silly) genre conventions. Catch up with this web series via YouTube.

An African City – Created by Nicole Amarteifio

"An African City" has been touted as Africa’s "Sex and the City," and the show is surely stylish enough to deserve that title. The web series centers on a group of friends who regularly get together to speak honestly about relationships, careers and living in the city. But what is genuinely novel about "An African City" is its exploration of cross-cultural exchange. The series begins with Nana Yaa’s (MaameYaa Boafo) return home to Africa after being raised in New York, which gives the series a unique point of view. While she worries about not being able to get some Starbucks, her friends sympathize with their own woes about water rations and lack of electricity. In this moment, the show places "first-world problems" alongside the real economics of Ghana, injecting the narrative with reality rarely discussed on series that promise lots of fashion, love and sex. You can watch the first season via the show’s website. When you’re done, head over to VHX TV and catch up on season two.

Get Some! – Co-Created by Tammi Cubilette and Sonia González-Martínez

"Get Some!" is about a Nuyorican couple from the Bronx determined to keep their love alive. For Sam and Viv (played by Angelo Lozada and Cubilette), their relationship is not only important; it’s the most stable thing in their lives. Sam is still working his way up to head chef, and Viv is searching for her true calling. And though "stability" may not seem very sexy, the chemistry between Lozada and Cubilette makes it so; they laugh and joke in such a natural way that you would think you’ve stumbled into the webcam feed of a raunchy and very funny couple. Watch episodes of the hilarious Get Some! on kollide.tv.

VOD:

Darby Forever – Written by Aidy Bryant

On "Saturday Night Live," Aidy Bryant has made her name by playing outlandish characters with aplomb. In "Darby Forever," Bryant takes a subtler approach that highlights her charming presence onscreen. The short film is about Darby, a bored and restless fabric-store worker who spends much of her time with her head in the clouds. We watch as Darby plays out elaborate scenarios, but the film also offers some real-life drama. Darby has a crush on Nick (Luka Jones), who changes the water bottles daily. Can Darby channel her inner confidence and make her romantic dreams come true? Find out by watching "Darby Forever" on Vimeo.

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