This is the final medium-specific category of The Sketchys. Tomorrow, I have something very special planned to commemorate the year in media.
For today, we're looking at the best new web shows started in 2013. You might be able to predict a few of the entries based on shows I've written about this year. There are a couple surprises in this unranked list. I also include my favorite episode with each honoree. Let's get to it.
James St. James' Transformations
Anyone with an interest in art, makeup (beauty and special effects), and pop culture needs to be watching this series. James St. James, famed author and original Club Kid, invites makeup artists from all walks of life to do whatever they want to his face. The guests on this show read like a who's who of artistic and performance makeup: Billy B, Mathu Anderson, Sutan Amrull (aka Raja), Mynxii White, Chad Michaels, Peaches Christ, Boychild, and a whole lot more. These artists have done beauty, high fashion, pop art, avant garde, drag, performance art, monster makeup, and more. James St. James is an excellent host, bringing out the personality of the makeup artist and briefing the audience on their background. The best part is, no matter how bizarre the makeup gets, James St. James never cracks. He is a gracious host and model even when being covered in substances not meant for application on the body. Acrylic paint (not cosmetic acrylic, but straight up craft paint) is nothing compared to being covered in black glycerin. It is a celebration of makeup as art without the confines of a competition or other producer directives.
Subscribe to WOWPresents for more Transformations.
Bee and PuppyCat
Cartoon Hangover, the amazing YouTube channel that brought us Bravest Warriors, spent 2013 airing one-off cartoons in between episodes of Bravest Warriors. These played like pilots for new series to put into production. Bee and Puppy Cat is the only one, so far, confirmed to get a full season order. A young woman who can't get her act together finds a puppycat (actually, she falls on her from a rift in space). This creature brings her through a different rift to inter-dimensional temp jobs for much needed money. The animation is stunning, like Miyazaki doing science fantasy, but with a really warped sense of humor. There's a whole lot more that seems to be going on, but it's really early in the process to tell. There is only one episode so far, split in two parts, and it's worth watching.
Subscribe to Cartoon Hangover for more Bee and Puppycat.
Jane Austen's novels have been adapted into many great films and TV series before. Emma Approved is one of the more radical adaptations, courtesy of Pemberley Digital, and it's so right. Emma Woodhouse is an online matchmaker marketing her services through video blogs/could-be documentary. The series does not underplay Emma's terrible nature, something sorely missing from other adaptations, afraid of alienating the audience with such an awful character. Austen set out to create a totally unlikable protagonist who has to earn redemption in the eyes of the reader. Vlogging is, by its nature, a self-centered (arguably narcissistic) exercise, making it the perfect setting for a truly modern adaptation of Emma.
Subscribe to Pemberley Digital for more Emma Approved.
Click through for three more great web series.
FetchQuest is an animated series on Geek & Sundry in the mold of Robot Chicken. No, not physically in that mold. It's 2D animation about various gaming topics. Each episode features a whole lot of jokes stacked back to back on a theme and a comedy song about games. No one is going to laugh at every joke in every episode, but the humor is so broad-reaching that something is going to catch you just right. The parody songs are the most consistent element, even if the catchiest song drove me up a wall for dismissing Nintendo as nothing but kiddie games. I'm also a Nintendo fanboy, so I take it way more seriously than it's meant to be. It's a damn fine song either way.
Subscribe to Geek & Sundry for more shows (I don't know if Fetchquest is actually getting a second series. Only two cancellations have ever really been confirmed (The Flog and, sadly, MetaDating)).
Tropes vs Women in Video Games
You had to see this coming, right? Anita Sarkeesian's much talked about series is brilliant. I can't think of another word to describe it. The controversy over the Kickstarter campaign (created by trolls and MRAs fighting against feminism because reasons) only improves the quality of the show by fostering discussions about video games as serious media/art and critical theory. What gets lost far too often is that Sarkeesian set out to create an educational series for use in classrooms introducing feminist criticism through video games. She never claimed this would be the be all, end all discussion. It's literally a starting point for evaluating games like any other field of art. And like any actual academic discussion, attacking the creator of the critique you disagree with is the fastest way to discredit your own argument. Her gender and appearance have nothing to do with the substance of her criticism. It is possible to engage with her videos in a way that advances a greater discussion about representation in video games. You need to actually watch them, analyze her arguments, and go from there. That's the whole point of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games: creating a discussion about video games through the lens of feminism.
Subscribe to Feminist Frequency for more episodes of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.
One of the winners of the Geek & Sundry Vlogs talent search was Kiri Callaghan. Kiriosity is her twice a month vlog looking at philosophy through pop culture. It took me a few episodes to catch onto her angle and I'm glad I stuck it out. She has covered everything from pop culture alter egos to mad scientists, pulling specific references (for example, Bruce Wayne/Batman as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde) to discuss greater issues of culture, philosophy, history, and science. Now, Kiriosity is the must-watch vlog from Geek & Sundry. Any nerd can easily get lost in these subjects, finding new pop culture holes to fall through and get lost in.
Subscribe to Geek & Sundry Vlogs for more Kiriosity.
So those are the top new web series of 2013. What did I miss? Put your picks in the comments below.