Youtube the Future of Television?
A look at creators who are blurring the lines of popular media
When Youtube was first created in 2005, it was intended to be a place for people to easily share videos with their friends. I bet nobody expected for it to become the launching pad for the next big television and media sensations. The lines of internet stardom and mainstream media fame are becoming more and more blurred; film and television stars have been making moves to Youtube, including Will Smith, Mayim Bialik, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Shay Mitchell who all have popular channels.
Surprisingly, the inverse transition is just as common -Youtube creators who’ve gone from a single youtube video to youtube stardom, to television and beyond
Here is a list of stars who blur the lines of television and Youtube:
Hannah Hart began her Youtube channel while housesitting for her friend one night in New York. She decided to get drunk and try and make grilled cheese, and thus My Drunk Kitchen was born. Since then, Hannah has gained over 3 million followers and led numerous charity initiatives. Her Youtube channel even boasts celebrity guests like Sarah Silverman, Elizabeth Banks, and Lance Bass.
In 2017, Hannah Hart was tapped to have her own show on The Food Network where she combines her love of travel and food. The 6 episode series, I Hart Food, was very popular among viewers and critics alike. She’s also had a hand in creating three feature length films with fellow Youtube star and next on our list, Grace Helbig.
Grace Helbig is known for her sarcasm, deadpan humor, and comedic makeup tutorials. Her hilarious personality and hatred of emotional vulnerability led her to have a very successful podcast entitled “Not Too Deep”. In her over 6 years on Youtube, Grace has earned over 3 million followers.
The New Jersey native was a once aspiring actress living in LA. Now she’s a successful content creator and writer with credits including live shows, television, and film. So it was no surprise why she was tapped by the E! Network to have her own interview show. Though The Grace Helbig Show only had one season, her charm has earned Grace a large following, both on Youtube and off.
As Issa Rae tells it, she was procrastinating doing an assignment for university when “Awkward Black Girl” was born, her YouTube alter-ego, based on her real life experiences of working, dating, and just living life as an awkward person. The series went totally viral for its portrayal of this relatable, loveable character not often depicted in media.
HBO took notice of this Youtube sensation and offered Issa the option to adapt a show for the network inspired by her Awkward Black Girl character and series. With two seasons released, her HBO show Insecure is critically acclaimed, earning her multiple Golden Globe Nominations for both her writing and acting. Issa is also currently in the process of creating three other shows for HBO.
These foul mouthed, New York goddess comedians were self producing videos on Youtube long before they were a Comedy Central hit. Their Youtube show, also called Broad City, followed two Jewish 20 something girls trying to navigate life in New York city post-college. Hailed for creating hilarious situations out of the mundanity of daily life, these women caught the attention of some well known comedians, namely Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live and Parks & Recreation fame.
Poehler went on to personally mentor Abbi and Ilana throughout their process of writing their show for television, and she serves as an executive producer for the show. Broad City, along with its loveable characters, and their outlandish antics, has achieved critical acclaim. These comedians not only made the transition from Youtube to television, but also from improv shows to Comedy Central. Bonus, all their original webisodes are still live on their Youtube channel.
You might recognize Colleen Ballinger better by her Youtube character, Miranda Sings. Miranda Sings’ weird voice, strange look, and over-the-top personality led to a huge cult following of over 8 million subscribers. However, that’s not her only successful channel, Colleen also operates a channel for her to share content as herself out of character, also a huge success with over 5 million subscribers.
It was clear that the character of Miranda had a fanbase who wanted to learn more about her story. Colleen began working on a show for her Miranda character which was picked up by Netflix. The series, Haters Back Off, explores the world of Miranda and her family. With two seasons already published on Netflix, Colleen was able to bring her loveable character to a whole new audience. She’s also one of the first Youtubers to go from Youtube to Netflix. Miranda is still producing content on all of her channels.
The Future of Content
With Youtube’s growing presence and constantly growing audiences we may wonder do we even need primetime shows anymore?
Only time may tell. While once a place for cat videos, Youtube has become a major player in both popular culture and limitless new content. Although each of these creators had a different path from Youtube to television, there is one thing that they all share, each one is a fantastic storyteller whose unique perspectives appeal to mass audiences and provide entertainment to millions of people. At the end of the day, whether viewers are watching content on HBO, Comedy Central, Netflix, or Youtube, all that really matters is that it’s quality content.
Is there someone we should add to this list?
Let me know in the comments below.