Why There Won’t Be Another lonelygirl

Pioneering web series lonelygirl15 will draw to a close today. The online show that proved the Internet could launch compelling visual entertainment that captivates large audiences will conclude with the final 12 episodes being released over its final 12 hours. This countdown to the end is a fitting metaphor.

lg15 shutting down is symbolic of web video’s changing landscape. When the show first started in June of 2006, the web video world was ruled by the users. Fueled by credit-card debt and filled with DIY spirit, Bre was going to lead a revolution, inspiring everyday people to rise up and smash the Hollywood machine. It was going to be freaking beautiful, man.

But in 2008, the story is much different. Hollywood has struck back. While YouTube is still top video dog, Hulu is the new belle of the Internet ball. Every major network has full episodes of their shows online (some of which are even in higher-def), and web videos now feature stars like Will Ferrell, Rosario Dawson and David Spade.

Even the big names from the golden age of web video have gone Hollywood. The Ask a Ninja guys are have talked about slowing down their show and are re-making a Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and ZeFrank is writing a feature film for Universal Studios. Even the lg15 crew changed their name to EQAL, raised $5 million and signed a deal with CBS.

Will anyone fill the collective void they leave behind?

There was an innocence and an excitement to the shows of this era that can never be replicated. It’s like the first season of The Real World: It was genuinely interesting because no one knew what was going to happen. The participants of every subsequent season (and every reality show that followed) knew they could get famous from it, so it became fake. Everyone knows that there is money, or a Hollywood deal, to be made on the web now, so there’s no sense of danger. The thrill is gone, replaced by a careful eye on playcounts, CPMs and creating a brand.

So I raise a glass to lonelygirl and the rest of the freshman class of web video. There truly won’t be another group like you.

Or maybe I’m just being curmudgeonly. What do you think? Is there another lonelygirl out there? Can the likes of Fred captivate a web nation the way this cohort did? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.