Gone are the days when the younger generation would kill their time by surfing through TV channels looking for something worthwhile to watch. With smartphones, tablets and laptops at their disposal, they can actually choose and decide what exactly to watch and when.
The internet is also not leaving any stone unturned to provide content on the web to hook these people up. With a much more restriction-free and liberal environment and way larger a reach than the conventional mass media, the creators of audio-visual content are realising the amount of potential an online web series or a documentary show can have – not only for entertainment purposes but to spread awareness as well.
With YouTube gradually coming up as one of the mainstream broadcasting media in today’s world, along with a couple of other streaming sites like Netflix, Hotstar and the newest of the lot, Prime Video by Amazon, the possibilities are countless.
Keeping in mind the positive platform internet has always provided to social causes, it is no surprise that producers around the world have come up with a number of web series and shows based on LGBT storylines.
Here are some of them.
- HER STORY (2015-, WEB SERIES, USA)
Her Story is one of the most revolutionary and path-breaking pieces in this genre, being the story of two trans-women in Los Angeles – Violet and Paige, portrayed by two real life transgender actresses – Jen Richards and Angelica Ross respectively. Richards is also the co-writer and co-producer of the series with Laura Zak, who plays Allie – the character Violet falls for after being interviewed on the life of a trans-woman by the same. Paige on the other hand grows fond of James, but worries whether her past identity will interfere in her relationship.
The success of the series lies in the fact that probably for the first time, a trans-story has been told from the fresh and authentic perspective of someone from the inside. Hence, the storyline is devoid of pigeonholed notions of how the transgender people are; and it brings up the actual complex and diverse experiences of two friends who have very much of a life beyond their sexual transitions.
- THE HORIZON (2009-, WEB SERIES, AUSTRALIA)
The Horizon, created by Adam Jones and veteran writer Boaz Stark, is a web series made out of Australia. In a soap opera style narration, the story has Jake (Paul Layton) moving to Sydney to be with a guy he met on Manhunt and ends up with a broken heart and a drag queen roommate. Light and full of intricacies of a gay youth, The Horizon is the most watched web series in the world.
- CARMILLA (20014-, WEB SERIES, CANADA)
Carmilla is a Canadian single frame web series co-created by Jordan Hall, loosely based on the novella of the same name by Sheridan Le Fanu. The series premiered on YouTube in 2014 and ever since has kept the online audience hooked with its differently flavoured plotline.
The series takes place at the fictional Silas University in Styria, Austria and is narrated through Vlogs recorded by Laura (Elise Bauman), a first-year student. When Laura begins to investigate the disappearance of her roommate, she is assigned a new roommate named Carmilla (Natasha Negovanlis). With a whole lot of vampires, fish gods and other aspects of a full-blown fantasy fiction, it explores lesbian love and non-binary characters in a subtle and nonchalant way, just like the way it should be treated in real.
- GAYCATION (2016-, TV DOCUMENTARY SERIES, USA)
Gaycation is a 2016 American television documentary series hosted by Ellen Page and Ian Daniel where they set off to explore LGBT culture around the world. The idea was conceived when Spike Jonze, the co-president of Vice Media’s new channel Viceland consulted lesbian actress Ellen Page on possible show ideas for the new channel and she suggested a travel show with an LGBT perspective.
The series premiered on 2 March 2016 on Viceland where Page and Daniel met different people during their travels and heard their stories in Jamaica, Brazil, Japan and the USA. In the second season, they took their chats to Ukraine, India and France. In a special edition in 2016, the two hosts sat down with people affected by the gay-bar shooting in Orlando.
India too has had its share of LGBT web series, but not until very recently. With all the discussion and hopes regarding the annulment of Section 377 in the last few years, and with all the pride parades getting more and more popularity – this is a welcome change.
- ALL ABOUT SECTION 377 (2016-, WEB SERIES, INDIA)
This light-hearted show, directed by Amit Khanna, explores the relationship between a homophobic man who moves into the Mumbai home of his gay cousin (played by Amit Khanna) and his boyfriend. With a subject matter so rare and controversial in the Indian context, the eight episodes of the show captured the problems on-point with the help of liberal storyline.
The first series reportedly attracted over 40,000 viewers per episode on YouTube when it streamed in 2016. The series awaits a second season, and the news is this time the focus will shift from an urban perspective to a rural one.
- THE OTHER LOVE STORY (2016-, WEB SERIES, INDIA)
The Other Love Story tells the tale of two women – Adhya and Aanchal, living in Bangalore as neighbours, falling in love at a time when homophobia was still rampant in India. It is set in the 90s, an era before the Internet could provide us with all the exposure it took for the mass awareness, whatever there is.
The story follows the lives of the two women, how they develop their feelings and go about that despite of resistance from family and society.