I have been reading for years about web-based TV shows that are typically 5-10 minutes in length per episode, usually appeal to a very narrow niche fan base (which they can do since ratings aren’t a concern) and are usually creatively fast and loose, pushing boundaries in terms of content and story line, in ways they could never do on TV.
Finally, a few weeks after discussing some of the better web-based shows with a friend of mine at work, Lisa (who is a pop culture queen par excellence, often making me feel like I watch so very little, so broad is her consumption of pop treasures) such as The Guild, and The Mercury Men, and week or so after downloading an iPhone app called Crackle (again at Lisa’s suggestion), I finally opened up the app up, and found a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind shows.
The best one so far is the hilarious Gay Town (each episode runs 4 – 4 1/2 minutes), written, directed and starring the very funny Owen Benjamin, which turns the usual sexual orientation balance on it’s head, and features, as expected by the title, a town where everyone is gay, and where it’s the straight people who are out of place. In this town it is a crime not to wear sequined fanny packs, straight men are fired for not being someone their male boss can have sex with, and where political sex scandals revolve around someone being found soliciting for sex with someone of the opposite gender. It is gently done, and does a wonderful job of showing up prejudices for the ignorant concoctions they are by removing them from the expected contexts and inverting them.
It is also damn funny! One of my favourite lines is “Memo to self : Never get between a lesbian and her rickshaw”, a lesson learnt by the main straight character played by Owen, shortly after a lesbian couple have taken out three gay men who were competing with them for a rickshaw ride. Yes on one level it’s all very silly but that’s why a lot of social satire works well. As we’re laughing with learning, and all in compact bite-sized nuggets of fun.