With an overwhelming amount of content coming out on streaming platforms, sometimes we need to take a step back, and go in search of something slightly different. There’s no better place to go scavenging than YouTube, where you’ll find series after series of all shapes and sizes. However, there are also both a number of shows that aired on television (and haven’t made it to streaming) as well as web-series which resemble the kind of shows we expect from television but would never have aired if not for the internet. India’s most popular and well-received web-series, like Kota Factory, started out on YouTube too. The following list is a quick selection of some niche series on the platform including odd game shows, improv-heavy satires, and a gothic, 60s sitcom.
A great introduction to the world of British comedy ‘panel’ shows, Would I Lie To You? features comedians and television personalities pitted against each other in a game of lies. Two teams, or panels, each always led by comedian-actor-writer, David Mitchell and comedian-actor Lee Mack, are pitted against each other. A panellist from each team reads a slightly bizarre statement about themselves from a card and the other panel tries to guess whether these statements are true or false. The twist? Nobody knows which card they’re picking up. Panelists reading out a lie must follow through with it, and improvise elaborate, funny stories as they are questioned by the opposing panel. The show is a trove of witty banter and crafty improvisation. Nearly every episode is up on YouTube, so give it a go!
2. Black Adder
At the risk of annoying Rowan Atkinson, let me ask: who doesn’t love Mr. Bean? You may be familiar with the timeless, goofy British comedy that made Atkinson, both creator and star, an icon. However, this 1980s pseudo-historical, British sitcom, despite its immense popularity in its home country, is often forgotten. The series consists of 4 seasons, each set in a different historical period, featuring the same two protagonists as well as a random mix of reappearing characters. It’s hard for some of the full episodes to stand the test of time but BBC Comedy Greats on Youtube has a selection of more than 50 of the best bits from the series’ run. Enjoy!
This beloved, 1960s cult classic is still widely recognised all over the internet, generally via stills and quotes from the show. In fact, its popularity is what led to the 2019 animated film of the same name, powered by a high-profile voice cast. And why shouldn’t it be popular? The black comedy about a gothic, wealthy family with macabre interests and dark powers is both years ahead of its time and sweet in the way all classic sit-coms should be. A pitch perfect cast is led by scene-stealing, Academy Award nominee, Carolyn Jones. Her character, Morticia Addams, will steal your heart too. Start watching on MGM’s Youtube channel, which has a good selection of episodes from its 2 season run.
Funny Or Die’s 6 episode web miniseries, starring Ben Schwartz and Lauren Lapkus, both improvising their asses off, is both a satire of ‘morning shows’ and a quick trip through the 5 stages of grief. There’s also an entire hour of bonus improvisation, outtakes, and bloopers for those who just can’t get enough. It’s so short that you might as well head on over and check out the first episode.
Paranoia is a silly, funny web-show by once-mighty CollegeHumor, which gives a twist to a classic game format that goes around under different names. The rules are explained at the beginning of each episode but it boils down to this: 2 of the players are secretly stoned, and it’s up to the rest of them to figure out who the stoners are. In between each round of themed challenges, the stoners can kick out any player from the rest of the game. Comfort television is important, and this show couldn’t be a better example of it. This hardly needs mentioning but yeah, it’s also a great show if you want to play along from home…