Web series may not be the red-haired stepchild of TV shows for much longer: The Streamy Awards are here.
The Streamys are the first awards to be given to series produced specifically for the web, with honors to be given out in 25 categories. To be eligible, a show has to have streamed at least three episodes. Most episodes are under five minutes, in keeping with the genre's quick-and-cheap roots.
The first nominees have been selected -- and winners will be chosen -- by the newly minted International Academy of Web Television, whose members include such web series pioneers as Miles Beckett of "Lonelygirl15" and web-world stars such as Alex Albrecht, co-host of Revision3’s "Diggnation." The ceremony will be held March 28 at L.A.’s Wadsworth Theatre.
Looking at the nominees en masse, it’s pretty clear that in just a few years of existence the genre has evolved from its ad-hoc, amateurish roots to something very often shiny and alluring. The Best Comedy Web Series category boasts five strong shows, all worth watching: Rob Corddry’s outrageously funny "Children’s Hospital," Joss Whedon’s high-end "Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog," the geek-chic "The Guild," the old-reliable "Onion News Network," and the consistently ingenious "You Suck at Photoshop."
It may be that the brevity that is the rule in web series is especially suited to comedy. Established names like Corddry and Whedon, whose shows also feature experienced TV actors like Lake Bell (in "Children’s Hospital") and Neil Patrick Harris (as the loveable Dr. Horrible himself), probably help. But the unknowns in "The Guild" work the humor and hold your attention too.
In the Best Dramatic Web Series Category, the pickings are more uneven, with the much-hyped but painful to watch "Gemini Division," starring Rosario Dawson, alongside the WB’s "Sorority Forever," a candy-colored guilty pleasure produced by McG. Battlestar Galactica’s web-only "The Face of the Enemy: is there, though it left hardcore fans of the TV series cold. Two good-enough but slightly shaggy dystopian fantasies, "2009: A True Story" and "After Judgment," round out the category.
The Best Hosted Web Series category is another impressive one, with "Diggnation," "BoingBoingTV," "EpicFU," "Project Lore" and "Wine Library TV," all shows that know what they are about and have solid followings.
There are also awards for acting and craft awards including editing and cinematography.
In the big scheme of things it all feels very fledgling. A huge outpouring of attention and money is unlikely (the awards are being co-hosted by three new media companies, Tilzy.TV, Tubefilter, and NewTeeVee, and corporate sponsors include Kodak and smaller tech companies such as Zune and Lifeforce.)
But still: These awards' very existence feels like a cool glimpse into the future, so much so that Justine Bateman, co-founder of the web production company fm78.tv, a member of the Streamy Awards nominating committee, and a passionate advocate for web series, states confidently, “Look, some day soon, these awards are going to be replacing the Emmys.”