(Originally published 23 November. Kind thanks to Catcher in the Reel for permission to repost.)
By Aaron Hunter
This article is part of an ongoing project on the topic of web series that will discuss a few key examples of this burgeoning medium. May include mild spoilers.
The first thing a viewer of the premiere episode of Squaresville (2012-2013) is likely to notice – especially in relation to the examples discussed previously in this series – is that it breaks out of the bedroom: no web cam, no confined space, no breaking the fourth wall. Unlike the many web series that have used the YouTube platform as a formal structuring device, in its first episode Squaresville seems to model itself more on TV and maybe even film. From the opening seconds we get voiceover, a variety of cuts, an extra-diegetic soundtrack, moving cameras, and, perhaps most significantly, an episode that takes place almost entirely out of doors.
Squaresville, E1 “Nerds on the Run”
In this sense, Squaresville is a very different series than those we’ve looked at previously in this spot, and its first season of sixteen episodes does a lot to amplify those differences. By making use of a variety of locations both indoors and out, and by using a broader range of approaches to filming and editing, Squaresville looks a lot more like a traditional TV series than do its web series godmothers. Perhaps this is due in part to the series’ high school themes and milieu: it needs bedrooms, classrooms, and locker rooms to sell its authenticity. Perhaps it’s also down to a more general trend: the web series is growing up. I would argue that the best web series make use of the medium itself and don’t necessarily try to ape TV conventions – web series do not want simply to be the runt siblings of television – and Squaresville does eventually make great use of its web platform (which, more on that shortly). But none of that has to preclude web series growing more adventurous in form and style in part by making use of TV and film conventions, which Squaresville also does, often very well. Continue reading