Tabletop, Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and the Future of Entertainment

Yesterday, Wil Wheaton made an exciting announcement.

Tabletop, the web-based show of nerdy celebrities playing awesome tabletop games, was renewed for a second season on the (also renewed!) Youtube network Geek & Sundry.

If you haven’t watched this show, you completely, 100% should.  It’s amazingly fun, it’s funny to watch the people interact, and it’s awesome to be introduced to new games in such an accessible way.  The show captures everything I love about a good game night–lots of fun, laughs with friends, and the chance to be a part of some great stories told around the table.  Or the carpet, if you’re me and don’t have a table big enough to fit all of your friends around.

I am so over-the-moon excited to have supported this show, to have enjoyed every episode, and to be anticipating its second season.  I’m excited, though, for more than just my own personal enjoyment of the show and its subject matter.  I’m excited about what it means for the future of entertainment.

Slowly but surely, quality programming is making its way to the internet FIRST, proving that web-based content is a viable alternative to  network television.

Want another example?

I’ve already talked about this incredible webshow on here before: the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Pictured: Two adorable people being awkward. And adorable.

These, by the way, are Darcy and Lizzie.  They may have created the most amazing on-screen kiss ever.  Seriously, the episode where they finally got together still makes me squeal with glee every time I see it.

The show has one more episode left, which airs on Thursday, and I am currently experiencing a strange mix of excitement and depression as I ponder its end.  It has been such a wonderful adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  All of the actors and writers and crew who put this together did it for basically no  pay, on a completely shoestring budget, because they believed in the story and the project and the medium.  They did this because they believe that internet entertainment is the way of the future, and even though it can’t make them money just yet, it’s worth investing for the future.

Right now, the crew behind the Lizzie Bennet Diaries are working on several new projects, all of which are web-based, in addition to Kickstarting a release of the entire LBD series on DVD.  As of the time I was writing this, it had made exponentially more than its stated goal in approximately 3 days of its 30 scheduled to raise the funds.  Excess funds will go towards improving the quality of their products and programming, and to paying the people who worked so hard on something they believed in for virtually no financial gain.  I am beyond thrilled that this is doing so well.  If I had money, I’d be backing it myself, both to get the DVDs and to support what I understand to be an important move in broadcasting.

There is this unspoken notion still circling that if content is created for the internet instead of for the television, it must be somehow lesser, lower in quality, not as interesting.  I have had to explain the Lizzie Bennet Diaries to people before, specifying that it is both professionally made AND hosted on the internet, as though the two were mutually exclusive.  This is not the fault of the people to whom I have explained it–this is the fault of a media culture that has marginalized the value of web streaming for fear of losing all of the money they have dumped into television networks.

Frankly, I think that TV as we know it is on its way out.  As more and more content becomes available online, eventually somebody is going to figure out how to make internet viewing profitable.  More people will realize that instead of paying hundreds of dollars a year for thousands of shows they never, ever watch, they can pay for the content that they actually want and not waste money on the other junk.

If you have some down time, please, give these shows a watch.  Take a look at what internet-based content has to offer.  Support this thing while it’s getting off the ground, and in the years to come I think you’ll have played a part in the shaping of our storytelling future.

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