The New York Television Festival is over and the winners have won. This year 19 development deals, in various sizes and configurations, were handed out.
Quality is always pretty high at NYTVF, widely regarded as a leading showcase for independent television, one that can make a real difference in a person’s career. And this year was no different. AV Club‘s Todd VanDerWerff asserted after attending the festival that web TV was heading in the right direction. (For more festival highlights, check out Liz Shannon Miller’s dispatch at NewTeeVee).
Not every block at NYTVF has a gem, but there are gems to find. Morgan Evans is a young comedian in New York, and his series, The Untitled Webseries That Morgan Evans Is Doing, is a light spark of neuortic New Yorkism. Questionable title aside, it’s Milennial Louie, with all the flaws and greatness implied there.
The series starts by introducing Morgan Evans as a happy, conflicted, neurotic aspiring stand-up comedian. We learn about a potential deal with Paramount, one of the few story lines the show revisits.
Most episodes of the show stand alone. Untitled Webseries is pure situation comedy, distilled and assembled into artistic YouTube-sized bites.
“Baby Shower,” the show’s second episode directed by Broad City co-creator Abbi Jacobson, is a slight riff on gender.
“Emma” delivers romance in autumn, a throwback to Woody Allen, where bobo New Yorkers quip about the city and pop culture — while also falling in love (or, appearing to fall in love). It features a delightful cameo from Ilana Glazer (Broad City co-creator).
There are 15 (short) episodes total, all idiosyncratic. Your favorites may differ from mine. To watch them all, visit YouTube.
What I like about Untitled Webseries is it manages to stay in conversation with the cutting edge of TV comedy — the realist turn exemplified by Louie and Girls — while also taking advantage of the web’s space for short-form storytelling. The show’s cinematographer, TJ Misny, crafted a sharp look; he has been executing consistently with shows like Broad City and I Hate Being Single. The New York web series community continues to breed talent.
Untitled Webseries is strange and surprising, and indie television is going to need more of that to compete with the tide of money flowing into the space from the growing large networks on YouTube to the likes of Amazon ordering TV-length original programming.
Take a look.