Summary:

So I’m putting Shows About Craigslist into the Online Video Vault of Overdoneness. The only reason I feel comfortable calling it a day on this genre, though, is that the reality series Craigslist TV might be as good as it’s going to get.

craigslist-tv

Okay, guys, it’s time to call it a day on yet another genre of online video — joining Roommate Comedies and iPhone App Reviews in the Online Video Vault of Overdoneness are shows about Craigslist. The only reason I feel comfortable putting this genre away, though, is that the reality series Craigslist TV might be as good as it’s going to get.

Two previous series that have explored the strange tales to emerge from the bulletin board service — INST MSGS and Missed Connections Live — did so by taking anonymously posted ads and projecting characters upon them. But Craigslist TV actually follows real Craigslist users from the moment of posting their ads to the end result, whether that’s meeting a cute stranger spotted at Subway or performing chores for free dressed as a ninja.

The production values are great — including the sound, which is always tricky in a documentary/reality format — and the choice of stories told. The key to any reality show is casting, and the producers here have a talent for finding outgoing and camera-friendly people. Sometimes, they’re almost a little too enthusiastic — 28-year-old Charity isn’t exactly “vivacious” about her open casting call for a husband. The more accurate word would be “crazed.”

But Megan, who’s looking for a futon subletter, manages to be energetic and relatable at the same time.

Beyond the fully-produced documentary episodes, there are also installments sent in by the adventurous Nikki, who’s using Craigslist to travel around the country — she promises to be a strong recurring character over the show’s life.

However, the episode length is an issue — while they’ve found great characters to showcase, there tends to be a little too much chatter with the subject and the middle section has an unfortunate habit of dragging. The worst offender is the four-part episode which documents aspiring fashion designer Michael Mullen’s efforts to get Sandra Bullock to wear a dress he designed for her to wear at the Oscars. Combined together, the installment is over 20 minutes in length, contains a lot of dead weight and doesn’t have a very satisfying conclusion. Other episodes are under ten minutes, but they could all use some slightly tighter editing.

With the exception of the length, though, it’s a great package, one that’s racked up consistent five-figure viewcounts since launching in May 2010 and may have me continuing to tune in.

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Can Online Video Show Us the Future of Newspapers?

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