Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are great and all, but there's something special about watching strangers pour their passion into projects that live on the internet—for free. Now if you're thinking, Wow, how do we deserve to watch these people's life's work without paying for it? The short answer: the more of us who watch it, the higher the chance of the show becoming the next Broad City. Yeah, that was originally a web series independently produced by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson from 2009 to 2011. Talk about a success story.
Many web series aren't very high-quality (the creators are producing them on little-to-no budget, after all), but others actually look like streamable TV shows and feature well-known actors—making you question why you're still paying for that Netflix subscription. (FYI, I still love you, Netflix.)
Here, 10 amazing web series—both new and a little older—to binge-watch asap.
Discover Puerto Rico with Lin-Manuel Miranda (2019)
In an eight-part web series, Hamilton Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda takes viewers to Puerto Rico to show them his favorite spots and explore the island's art, culture, and history. The Puerto Rican-American composer, actor, and playwright has been vocal about increasing tourism since Hurricane Maria and creating debt relief for the island.
Red Table Talk (2018)
If you only started watching Red Table Talk after that explosive Jordyn Woods interview, do yourself a favor and catch up on both seasons of the Facebook Watch talkshow starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris. The three generations of women get real about motherhood, loss, racism, interracial marriage, and so much more in 25-minute episodes. Ten out of 10 recommend.
The Feels (2016)
The Feels is a genderqueer web series about Charlie, a lonely bisexual man just trying to figure out what to do with all of his feelings. The show is already in its third season, starring Grey's Anatomy's Sara Ramirez and Girls' Tim Manley, and described as portraying bisexuality "the right way." You can read more on what inspired the series here.
Her Story (2015)
Her Story is a six-episode web series about two transgender women who explore love and dating while living in Los Angeles. It stars Jen Richards, who appeared as a supporting cast member on Caitlyn Jenner's reality show I Am Cait, and Angelica Ross, who's also featured in Ryan Murphy's new FX series, Pose. Fun fact: Her Story was nominated in 2016 for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series, so you know it's got to be good.
Sideswiped made its debut last summer, contributing to 2018's distinction as The Year of Rom-Coms. The eight-episode series is based on the true story of creator and star Carly Craig, a workaholic who dates all 252 of her Tinder matches. And yes, that's Jason Sudeikis in the trailer (though he isn't a recurring cast member, other cameos include Rick Springfield, Peter Gallagher, and Tyler Posey).
Episodes one and two are free to stream, but you do have to pay to view the rest on YouTube Premium. If you don't want to pony up, there are still plenty of amazing, free series on the World Wide Web (see below).
The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo (2016)
The comedic series directed, written, produced, and starring Brian Jordan Alvarez has been described as "Will and Grace on speed" and "the best Queer web series out there" which is all you really need to know about it. The five episodes are a bit longer than normal for a web series, lasting around 20 minutes each, and follow a group of young friends who just want to find love.
Sorry For Your Loss (2018)
These days, even social media sites are creating free video platforms. Take Facebook Watch, which has tapped well-known actors in an effort to promote the medium and reach a variety of audiences. Sorry For Your Loss, starring Elizabeth Olsen, is a prime example—the trailer evokes a big-screen film.
The drama series paints a depiction of what life is like for Leigh (Olsen) when she suddenly becomes a young widow. It officially premiered last summer with four 30-minute episodes. The series was renewed for a second season back in December, and it's set to premiere on October 1, 2019.
Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis (2008)
Zach Galifianakis' hilarious web talkshow, Between Two Ferns, first debuted in 2008 on Will Ferrell's Funny or Die site, and has persisted because the candid conversations (more like insults back and forth) Galifianakis has with celebrities while sitting in-between—you guessed it—two ferns are hilarious. Episodes run about seven minutes long and are pretty infrequent, but when they're here they're good.
Prior to this past June's episode with Jerry Seinfeld and Cardi B, the last episode aired in 2016 and featured Hillary Clinton. Other guest stars include Justin Bieber, former President Barack Obama, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Brad Pitt, and Michael Cera (who was the first to appear on the show in 2008).
Yes, the first five seconds are A LOT (in the best way), but it's a perfect cross-section of the hilarious web series, Bumbld, formerly known as Bumble Fuck. The comedy captures the dating life of a 28-year-old Upper East Side woman named Pippy. Considering an almost-engagement and a breakup happen in the span of 90 seconds, it's easy to get hooked right away. Season two has officially launched, and new episodes will be available every Wednesday.
Subway: The Series (2015)
After being laid off from her job as an IT tech for a financial service company, Mary Frick is forced to reevaluate her life in NYC. Instead of going back home to her adoptive family in Lancaster, PA, she meets aspiring artist David on the subway. Together, they come across some very interesting people on the train, inspired by real life on the MTA. @AndrewCuomo, WYD?
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Rachel Epstein is an editor at Marie Claire, where she writes and edits culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also manages the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game, finding a new coffee shop, or analyzing your cousin's birth chart—in no particular order.
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