REDEARTH88 Takes on Lonelygirl15

19 Comments

As with most pop culture sensations, Lonelygirl15 spawned a spin-off, and some competition. Falling somewhere between direct offspring and competitor is REDEARTH88, a series that’s starting to build a serious fan base at a time when Lonelygirl’s audience is falling off from previous highs.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gk-nW-VKm-M&rel=1]

If REDEARTH88‘s (RE88) format rings familiar — cute girl in room shares her life through a webcam, and heck, both shows feature run-on words with numerals in their titles — then it should come as no surprise to learn that the show’s creator, Glenn Rubenstein was once part of the LG15 team. His “OpAphid” alternate reality game (ARG) and his character “Tachyon” were both integrated into the LG15 universe. Rubenstein also worked in varying capacities on the show for about five months.

But Rubenstein and LG15 did not part amicably. In fact, neither party would provide comment on the split. Suffice it to say that Rubenstein wanted to go in a different direction. “I’m very aware of some things to avoid, based on LG15,” said Rubenstein. Speaking about the overall story arc he said, “If you ask questions you have to have answers.”

Rubenstein launched RE88 in July 0f 2007, and kept many of the same elements that made LG15 a hit. RedEarth stars a young, attractive girl vlogger who is, unbeknownst to her, wrapped up in a web of intrigue and secret agents. To be honest, it’s hard to keep up with Rubenstein as he explains the machinations of the RE88 universe — different characters upload different sides of the same story, there’s a murder, a mysterious organization, and I haven’t even mentioned the Maddison Atkins ARG that’s tied in as well.

Surprisingly, Rubenstein sees RE88 as a reinterpretation of the sit-com with misunderstandings playing a central role. “The audience has more knowledge than the characters,” he said, “If you just watch the Rachel videos, you’ll think they are just comedic. But if you’re watching the Tachyon videos you get the real story.”

This requirement of audiences to discover and keep up with multiple video from multiple characters across multiple locations adds excitement for the so-called “Red Army” fanbase, but could alienate new viewers who don’t have the time or energy to keep up. It’s something Rubenstein is aware of, and wrote about in a follow up email to me: “We find ourselves having now had some greater success with Rachel’s videos, and yet with the separate character accounts it can be easy to miss the entire concept of ‘multiple perspectives’ … we are currently working toward a better solution in terms of presentation.”

RE88 has more than 25 episodes in its canon at this point, but it wasn’t until recently that the show really started to take off. Episode 12 was the first one to break the 100,000 play mark on YouTube, and the audience is growing as three episodes in the past month surpassed 200,000 plays.

The traffic spike couldn’t have come at a better time, as Rubenstein hasn’t made a dime off the show since starting it last year. He says that since the bump in play counts, he’s been contacted by agents and managers, and with all his show’s new fans, he won’t be feeling lonely anytime soon.

19 Comments

Realistic

This article is pretty ridiculous.

To compare this series that generates a video at least every 3 months to lonelygirl15 is really pushing it.

You friends with the guy behind this series or what?

purplepluto77

Hey Chris, just wanted to let you know that the Academy is now allowing online content such as a web series to win an award at the 2008 Primetime Emmys =) It’s great to see the Academy acknowledging the internet as a viable source for entertainment, and to win against a primetime television show would rock.
If you’re interested, check out http://www.emmys.tv/downloads/index.php for the rules and regulations on how to enter. I’m currently working with the Academy to help spread this message to internet filmmakers, so definitely spread the love to others!

SFBlake

Hardly new or unique, but notable as an independent series to warrant coverage. No C-list celebrity? No Silicon Valley money behind it? No network deal? Shocking that there is any press!

Albrecht might be onto something with RE88.

joeydasani

I remember Glenn’s contributions to LG15, his editing style really gave the series something that was visually enticing and not the typical straight cut vlog kinda deal. The addition of OpAphid, Tachyon and Brother, plus the ARG elements gave it the extra kick that was needed. It’s great to see those characters are still doing their thing in RedEarth88.

jazmyngrey

While I have not been a fan of LG15 since the beginning, finding it led me to Maddison Atkins, and subsequently Redearth88.
While the format is on the outside is similar, as noted, cute girl vlogging the characters are much easier to relate to, and be sympathetic too. Glenn had done a phenomenal job not only in maintaining his story, but in maintaining his relationship with the fanbase. He is available to us to ask questions of, and will openly receive feedback on the story. He is no mysterious unseen and unheard “Creator”, he is just Glenn and he’s got a story to tell.
There has been nothing in LG15 in recent months, despite their attempts that has begun to touch what OpAphid, Tachyon, and Brother, Glenn’s characters had added to the production. Some of the most in depth character development seems to have come from his tenure there.
Which is not to say LG15 is not still a good show, but if your looking for consistent entertainment RedEarth88 is the way to go.

SlightlyCynical

I am a fan of Red Earth and Maddison, and LG15 as well.

It is remarkable that Red and Maddy have done so well as an independent production. This coverage is overdue.

Although I am sure we will also soon see LG15’s webmaster (or surrogates) over here to tout LG15’s hundreds of millions of views and downplay any impact or contribution Glenn had to LG15.

It’s only 7am on the West Coast though, so give it a little time.

Cheers!

Susan Peterson

I stopped following LonelyGirl15 after OpAphid split and it’s great to see those characters back (esp Tachyon).

The cinematic style and complexity of Glenn’s videos has always appealed to me more than the simple nature of LonelyGirl15.

angee

It’s a bummer that he doesn’t say anything about Brad Maule’s starring role in Maddison Atkins. He’s a fantastic actor and deserves at least a little attention.

The Glenn guy is pretty okay too. Kinda cute.

Matt Lauria

Kristen Nicole’s take on Mashable:

There’s a point in every show’s run where it loses popularity and the production team behind it comes up with melodramatic plot lines to increase interest. The more extravagant the plot line, the more unbelievable it is–thus creating the opposite effect the production team was after in the first place. There’s probably some scientific name for it…that’s right: jumped the shark.

I wasn’t the most avid fan of LG15, but from my point of view, the show reached its shark-jumping point when a teenage vlogger found herself mixed up in some cult society, relying on real-life help from her fans. One of the show’s creators, Glenn Rubenstein, recognized the problems with LG15’s straying plot line, and ended up leaving the team for undisclosed reasons. Rubenstein in fact went on to create his own production, featuring none other than a teenage vlogger that gets caught up in some mysterious, murderous plot of some sort.

I just can’t keep up with the shows these kids watch these days, but according to NewTeeVee, Rubenstein’s show, called REDEARTH88, has finally picked up steam. Launching in July of last year, right around the time LG15 found itself at the height of its popularity (and shark-jumping, in my opinion), episode 12 (of 25) of REDEARTH88 has passed the 100k view mark on YouTube not too long ago.

What’s it all mean? It means that Rubenstein’s ideas on where LG15 should go have been put into REDEARTH88, and this act just might pay off. That should be somewhat promising for any writers that feel like striking again. Don’t like your boss’ idea on where your sitcom should go? Make your own show and syndicate it on YouTube. That’ll show ‘em.

Matt Lauria

LonelyGirl15 jumped the shark when Tachyon and OpAphid left. So it’s awesome to see that they are back in Redearth88.

Daniel Yu

Interesting article, Chris. Always nice to see coverage on something indy that has already developed its own audience!

Singh

That actress is beautiful and charismatic. I could see myself watching this more than the LonelyGirl-less LonelyGirl15.

virginian9000

Great article Chris. As a huge fan of Redearth88 myself, I can tell you that the series is exciting for me and the multiple perspectives and mystery surrounding the story makes this a lot of fun. The actress who plays Redearth, Sara Fletcher, is a fantastic actress and the characters of OpAphid, Tachyon, and Brother are the most exciting characters we have never seen.

Good point about new fans having trouble with finding the multiple characters. I am not sure how to accomplish that on youtube, but it is an issue.

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