Plenty of TV shows boast charming cast line-ups and great concepts, but where’s the love for web content? Emerging media built off of Kickstarters and Indiegogo projects are growing stronger and stronger, created by passionate artists and audiences that believe in their work. Other web series are produced by companies and corporations, and many of these series are still made by talented creators, except on different platforms and with different forms of funding. No matter the type, web series allow for a great amount of flexibility in style, format, character, and narrative—and that’s where many of them excel. However, some seem to even outgrow their homes on the web circuit and their stories, fanbases, or content demands more than a web series can provide.
That’s why we’re looking at seven of our favorite web series in recent history that performed so well, we think they’d do even better with a full-length pickup as TV shows. See if your favorite made the list and if it didn’t, let us hear your choice in the comments!
The digital hit Carmilla attracted a huge fanbase of Creampuffs beyond what anybody expected. Beginning on KindaTV, the lesbian vampire love story and adventure wrapped all in one already moved into the film world with a Carmillamovie. We’ve already fallen in love with Laura Hollis (Elise Bauman) and Camilla Karnstein (Natasha Negonvalis), and we’ve seen them fight supernatural creatures of all kinds in both the web series and the film. After The Carmilla Movie put the beloved Hollstein five years into the future, it’d be easy to see a TV series picking up where it left off, or in an entirely new situation altogether. What if they became an official team that fights evil, but their professional lives get in the way? What happens if troubles from Silas University come back to haunt them? With a larger production budget, a new Carmilla TV series could blossom beyond the single shot, one camera angle series and use the star power of Negovanlis and Bauman to include fight scenes, more intimacy, and visual effects of supernatural creatures. While we’d be open to this beloved couple in any situation, we better be keeping the original theme song!
In Con Man, creatorAlan Tudykstars as Wray Nerely, a washed-up actor whose fans only want to remember him from his past role in a famous science fiction TV series as he attends conventions (hence “con man”). The premise is a clever exaggeration on his own life, as Tudyk is best known as Hoban Washburne on Firefly. With cameos by Nathan Fillion and other greats, Con Man is somewhat of a unicorn—the series is clever but not disdainful of audiences when it comes to Tudyk poking fun at his status as less famous than Fillion. Con Man was technically picked up by SYFY for a run, but it simply condensed the existing web series episodes into full-length episodes. Con Man could reach its full potential by taking its existing basis and starting anew—it’s already filled with wacky, beyond realistic characters (Mindy Sterling’s Bobby is a true standout), and relatable scenarios. We’d love to see Fillion come back as Nerely’s best friend and career envy, expanding upon his role into even a full-fledged rivalry.
Brought to you by Carmilla co-stars Natasha Negovanlis and Annie Briggs, the comedy CLAIREvoyant tells the story of best friends, Negovanlis’ hopeless romantic Claire and Briggs’ eccentric Ruby as they begin their own psychic business to earn money to pay rent. However, it turns into much more when they discover Claire actually has psychic powers. CLAIREvoyant doesn’t take too much on in each episode, which makes you eagerly eat up the next one, and the premise doesn’t dissolve into a mess of situational comedy like many other series—rather, it hinges on its relatable but quirky characters and their everyday struggles. With only one season so far, CLAIREvoyant could run for a few more, and if it were to branch into a full-length comedy, we’re betting audiences would be ready for more. For instance, what if the two have a serious falling-out? What if Claire temporarily loses her abilities? What if their business expands beyond their capacity? There’s so much room to grow, and CLAIREvoyant is only getting started.
Another KindaTV hit, Barbelle is an queer, odd couple (literally), female-empowering buddy comedy that follows the fictional eponymous Toronto pop girl duo Alice (Gwenlyn Cumyn) and Veronica (Karen Knox). You see, they’re a couple, except they’ve broken up romantically but are still under contract to make music together. Naturally, this spirals out of control. Like The Carmilla Movie, Barbelle only needs to extend a bit further until KindaTV has a full-length comedy. There’s so much we don’t know about Alice and Veronica’s back story together, and so much we want to know. The series could essentially thrive on a will-they, won’t-they plot for a long time—and honestly, that’s perfectly fine, since we have their musical lives as a pop duo to simultaneously focus on. The show also throws around plenty of hysterical comedic gags and cutaways, which could set the series apart even further if KindaTV leaned into it. Alice and Veronica are also lovable but flawed in their own ways, and audiences quickly grew attached, so having this extra time on a full-length series could truly give it the airtime the narrative deserves. Until this happens, Barbelle is renewed and has an Indiegogo campaign running with some amazing perks.
Hollywood Hitmen is a hidden gem of a comedy web series starring Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse, Agent Carter) as Evan and Maximilian Osinski (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Last Ship) as Max, two bumbling hitmen determined to move up in the contract killing world. Series created by friends and collaborators are always a joy to watch (Dichen Lachman of Dollhouse and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is also a producer), and Hollywood Hitmen is no exception. Lachman and Jessy Schram (Nashville, Falling Skies) play love interests and the hitmen’s much more clever assassin counterparts—but are only featured in one episode—and an expanded full series could easily create plenty of subplots with the two of them as opposing hitmen. Hollywood Hitmen takes on almost a Get Smart-esque quality (except with killing instead of detective work), and in this day and age, we’re always rooting for the underdog.
How to Buy a Baby
CBC digital series How to Buy a Baby already plays like a full-length comedy, so why not make it one? Season 1, with 10 episodes of seven minutes each, just needs an extra stretch to make it the 19-22 minutes like comedies on TV today. However, it’s the content that really pushes it over the edge. How to Buy a Baby provides a comedic take on the struggles of going through in vitro fertilization—stigma, frustration, financial struggles, opinionated friends, and everything in between—and turns it into a concept in which anyone can empathize, not just those who wish to be parents. Current viewers of the web series will already have gotten to know the show’s charming couple, Jane (Meghan Heffern) and Charlie (Marc Bendavid), so why not take it one step further? After capitalizes on the unique premise of the in vitro fertilization process, CBC could now branch into other potential struggles of married life with ease.
Note to Self
Rakhee Morzaria’s Note to Self is a hilarious web series with short episodes starring Morzaria as a fictionalized version of herself in simple situations, thrown out of proportion when her self-righteous personality steps in. Even after a few episodes, you’re already attached and rooting for her, so centering a TV series around Morzaria is the perfect move—expanding into her circle of friends, her work life, and more. The Indian Canadian actress presents a highly relatable character, because all of us—deep down—want to be right. She’s compelling and just trying to live her life and sometimes a great character is really all you need to make a series (think Broad City). Maybe she gets herself into some tight spots or ends up in weird situations because of her over-attentiveness and occasional lack of self-awareness, but that’s all part of the fun.
Are there other web series that you think should be made into full-length television series? Let us know in the comments below!
Olivia Popp is a writer, artist, and entertainment obsessive who started living and breathing television ever since her parents told her in elementary school that it would rot her brain. Now, she's a film student and TV apologist with a penchant for providing unsolicited series recommendations and opinions to anyone within earshot. Ask her about science fiction, representation in media, improv and comedy, filmmaking, tasty cheese and barbecue sauce, or even more television. If you can’t get enough of her comedic stylings, hit up and follow her on Twitter at @itsoliviapopp.